To say that it’s been an up and down start for the Princeton football team would be something of an understatement. After a disappointing 35-22 season-opening loss at Lehigh in which the team lost defensive captain Steve Cody, the Tigers returned home and bounced Lafayette in a 36-33 double-overtime thriller. Then there was last week, when Princeton laid an egg in New York, losing 42-14 to Columbia. On the heels of last season’s 38-0 home loss to the Lions, the defeat marked the first time Princeton lost consecutive games to Columbia.
This week, the Tigers hope to restore order at home against a physical Colgate team. The game marks the first of three consecutive home games for Princeton and will be a huge test for Princeton’s defense, which struggled in the loss to Columbia. Last week, it was the passing defense that was shredded by Columbia’s aerial attack. This week, the running defense will be put to the test as Nate Eachus, one of the best running backs in the Football Championship Subdivision, comes to town. For the Tigers to stand a chance, they will need to make stops on third downs and make the most out of their offensive possessions.
Princeton holds a slight advantage in the overall series (25-24-1), but the Raiders have been closing the gap. Colgate has won the last two games in the series and three of the last four. Last year, the two teams played a Thursday-night game that was televised on ESPNU. The game was very low scoring, as Colgate held a 7-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Princeton quarterback Tommy Wornham ’12 hit Trey Peacock ’11 for a 31-yard touchdown pass early in the final period, and the game headed to overtime. Wornham threw his second touchdown of the day in the first overtime period, hitting Andrew Kerr ’11 from 23 yards out. But two Eachus touchdown runs and a Colgate defensive stand ended the game. The Raiders won, 21-14.
Players to watch
Andrew Starks ’13 (Office of Athletics Communications)
Princeton linebacker Andrew Starks ’13
With Steve Cody ’11 out, Starks has quickly emerged as Princeton’s premier player on defense. A converted safety, he is the team leader in tackles (30) and is tied for the lead in tackles for a loss (two). Last game, he led the team with 12 tackles. Starks’ ability to read the offense and make plays will be key against a Colgate team intent on pounding the ball on the ground.
Colgate junior running back Nate Eachus
Colgate will go as Eachus goes. One of the premier running backs in the nation, he was named the FCS Offensive Player of the Week after carrying 44 times for 214 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-3 blowout of Georgetown. Eachus also caught four passes for 54 yards. Through four games, Eachus has carried 137 times for 640 yards and seven touchdowns. Princeton’s defense has surrendered an average of 174 rushing yards per game this season. The Raiders will be sure to attack Princeton on the ground early and often.
The Tigers remain without perhaps their best players in each of their three defensive personnel groups: Junior safety Matt Wakulchik and sophomore defensive tackle Caraun Reid are both out with leg injuries but do expect to return this year; Cody (broken leg) is out for the season.
Around the Ivies
Yale dropped a close game at home to Albany last week for its first loss of the season. Harvard recovered from its blowout loss to Brown by smashing Lafayette 35-10. Brown fell just short at Rhode Island, losing 27-24, while Cornell secured a comfortable 21-12 win at Bucknell. Dartmouth’s offense put up 28 points against Penn’s vaunted defense in Philadelphia, but the Big Green fell to the Quakers 35-28 in overtime. Columbia, Penn, Brown, and Yale are all currently 1-0 in league play while Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell are 0-1.
“I told the guys today, ‘You gotta bring two chin straps, because it’s gonna be a physical game.’”
– Princeton head coach Bob Surace ’90, on preparing for Colgate’s style of play