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Vol. LXV, No. 42
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
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BEAR ATTACK: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace shows his frustration in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, Surace had plenty to frown about as the Tigers fell 34-0 at Brown. The Bears outgained Princeton offensively 415 yards to 208 and built an edge of 37:39 to 22:21 in time of possession. The Tigers, now 1-4 overall and 1-1 in Ivy League action, play at Harvard (4-1 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 22.

PU Football Takes Step Back in Loss to Brown; Must Execute Better to Produce Upset at Harvard

Bill Alden

Two weeks ago, the Princeton University football team found itself trailing Columbia 7-3 in the first quarter after a Tommy Wornham pass was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

Sparked by the resilient senior quarterback, Princeton responded by producing a 62-yard drive that culminated on a touchdown pass from Wornham to Mark Hayes to take a 10-7 lead on the way to a 24-21 win.

Last Saturday at Brown, the Tigers dug a 7-0 hole in the first minute of the game as another Wornham aerial was turned into a pick six.

With the memory of the Columbia game fresh in his mind, Princeton head coach Bob Surace wasn’t fazed by the early miscue. “They jumped out into the lead but there were 59 minutes left,” said Surace.

But this time, Princeton replied by going three and out and punting the ball back to the Bears, who proceeded to drive 39 yards and get a field goal out of that possession.

“On the next drive, they make three or four terrific catches and it is 10-0,” lamented Surace.

Brown kept making terrific plays the rest of the afternoon, rolling to a 34-0 win over the Tigers before a crowd of 5,265 at Brown Stadium.

Surace remained optimistic in the early stages of the game as the score held at 10-0 before Brown scored two touchdowns in the last nine minutes of the second quarter to build a 24-0 halftime lead.

“Even at 10-0, I thought we were just a turnover or a big play away,” said Surace, whose team fell to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in Ivy League play while Brown improved to 4-1 and 1-1 Ivy. “We were never able to do that. You have to give Brown some of the credit for that, they played well.”

The third down conversion rate reflected Brown’s dominance as it made first downs in 9-of-16 such situations while the Tigers went 3-of-15 on the afternoon.

“We knew Brown was good and that they had an exceptional QB [Kyle Newhall-Caballero],” said Surace, whose team was outgained offensively 415 yards to 208 and had possession for 22:21 as opposed to 37:39 for Brown.

“Their receivers played exceptionally well; they made toe-tapping catches on the sidelines and diving catches. They executed on third downs.”

Princeton, by contrast, struggled in the air, as Wornham hit on 11-of-27 passes for 75 yards while freshman back-up Connor Michelsen went 3-of-4 for seven yards.

“The biggest area that needs improvement is our passing game; we ran the ball consistently considering how Brown was playing us with nine guys in the box usually,” said Surace, whose team gained 126 yards on the ground with freshman star Chuck Dibilio rushing for 78 yards on 16 carries.

“Dibilio had a solid game. Tommy had a long run in the second half. We need to do more in the passing game to loosen up the defenses.”

Coming off good efforts in the win over Columbia and a subsequent 28-23 loss at Hampton, Surace was expecting a solid performance against Brown.

“I thought we were conditioned and tough enough to play with Brown,” said Surace. “I really thought we would have greater
energy.”

Looking back, Surace sees that there was an inkling that the Tigers might come out a little flat against Brown.

“We had a good practice on Tuesday,” said Surace. “I was disappointed with execution on Wednesday; that was frustrating.”

With Princeton heading up to Cambridge, Mass. this Saturday to play a Harvard team (4-1 overall, 2-0 Ivy) riding a four-game winning streak, the Tigers are going to need to execute much better than they did in the loss to Brown.

“I think their starting quarterback [Collier Winters] got hurt and they have a backup [Colton Chapple] playing terrific,” said Surace.

“Treavor Scales has tons of yards per carry; he is a terrific runner. The offensive line is really good. The left tackle [Kevin Murphy] and left guard [John Collins] could play at the next level. Harvard gets the ball down the field in large chunks. They are also playing well on special teams; they had a kickoff return for a TD against Bucknell. Defensively, everyone in the league knows what they had coming back. They have balance in all three phases of the game.”

In order to win against the Crimson, Princeton will need to make the most of every moment of the game.

“I told the guys you are only guaranteed 600 minutes a season,” said Surace. “We have only 300 minutes left; we need to make the most of every minute. We have to fix our house; there are errors we are making that we have to fix.”

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