Kanoff’s Sizzling Passing Performance Sets Tone, Triggering Tiger Football’s 52-17 Rout of Harvard
KAN DO: Princeton University quarterback Chad Kanoff prepares to unload the ball in recent action. Last Friday at Harvard, senior star and tri-captain Kanoff enjoyed a career game, completing his first 21 passes on the way to going 31-for-35 for 421 yards and two touchdowns as Princeton defeated Harvard 52-17. Kanoff was named as the STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week and the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week in the wake of his performance, which amounted to the eighth-most single-game passing yards in Princeton history. The Tigers, now 5-1 overall and 2-1 Ivy, host Cornell (2-4 overall, 2-1 Ivy) on October 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
While Bob Surace liked what he was seeing from his Princeton University football team on the practice field, he knows that doesn’t guarantee success on game day.
“I really felt the last couple of weeks that we have really practiced well,” said Princeton head coach Surace.
“It doesn’t always hold true that you are going to play that way. I think more often that not as a coach you feel a lot better when the guys are moving on the field the way they are; we are lining up right, we are in the right responsibilities, and we are not making bad mistakes. We are executing at a really high level at those practices; it gives you a better sense of confidence.”
Last Friday evening at Harvard, Princeton executed at a very high level, building a 31-10 halftime lead on the way to a 52-17 rout of the Crimson as it improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 Ivy League.
It was Princeton’s biggest win over the Crimson since a 45-6 victory over the Harvard on November 11, 1967.
Senior quarterback and tri-captain Chad Kanoff showed that practice can almost make perfect as he completed his first 21 passes on the way to going 31-for-35 for 421 yards and two touchdowns.
“I felt like the ball never hit the ground,” said Surace of Kanoff, who was named as the STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week and the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week in the wake of his performance, which amounted to the eighth-most single-game passing yards in Princeton history.
“We get practices like that. We have seen it in training camp. We have seen it during the week. But that was something else to see it in a game against a defense that is as good as their defense is.”
Noting that Quinn Epperley completed 29 straight passes in a win over Cornell in 2013 and that John Lovett produced some memorable efforts last year on the way to being an All-America honoree and Bushnell Cup Ivy Offensive Player of the Year, Surace put Kanoff’s outing Friday in that pantheon of special performances.
“You recognize how fortunate you are to have these guys on your squad,” said Surace.
“They are fun to coach. You just love watching guys develop and get better and they are getting better.”
Junior receiver Jesper Horsted seems be getting better and better, producing a career game against Harvard, catching 13 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns; the 246 yards is the third-most in Princeton history, trailing only Michael Lerch (370) and Derek Graham (278). Showing his versatility, Horsted threw a two-yard TD pass to Tiger Bech in the third quarter.
“Because Jesper does so many other things, including baseball, he is going to be a little bit behind in the beginning of the year,” said Surace.
“He does his best to catch up. We saw that last year in the second half of the year, he really took off as he got more comfortable. I think we are starting to see that this year.”
Surace tipped his hat to Princeton’s battle-tested offensive line, which dominated in the trenches to lay the foundation for the rout.
“The passing game goes hand in hand with the line,” said Surace. “If the quarterback can’t throw well, it doesn’t matter how long you protect him and run routes. When you add really good protection and really crisp routes and with the way the quarterback was throwing it, you get pass efficiency that is off-the-charts high.”
The Tiger defense had a really good night as well, bending but not breaking in thwarting a high-powered Crimson offense.
“The strength of their offense has been the running game; they have got really good runners and I thought we did a really great job,” said Surace, who got 10 tackles apiece from linebackers Thomas Johnson and John Orr against Harvard.
“Charlie Booker had 72 yards but he had to earn those yards. We gang tackled well and we didn’t give up the huge long run to him that he has been getting every week. When you look at the game tape, you have got to stop their running back and you have to stop their outside receivers, Adam Scott and Justice Shelton-Moseley, who are so dynamic. If the other guys beat you, you tip your cap to them. Those guys did beat us a few times but we did really well once we got inside the red zone.”
Having posted three straight wins and scored at least 50 points in each of those games, something that no Princeton team had done since 1890, in the wake of a tough 28-24 loss to Columbia on September 30, the Tigers are in a really good spot right now.
“I think our guys are doing a really good job of focusing on the play,” said Surace.
“In the Columbia game, I thought we played our hearts out. Our effort was great but we just had some momentary lack of focus on both sides of the ball where we gave up some big plays.”
Princeton will have to maintain that focus to come through with a win this Saturday night as it hosts a surging Cornell team that is 2-4 overall and 2-1 Ivy, having won two of its last three games after a 0-3 start.
“They beat Harvard; they are running the ball extremely well and their defense is playing well,” said Surace.
“It seems like after the first two games, they have completely flipped the script, changing their identity and their team. It seems to be working. We will have our work cut out for us; it will be a battle.”