Junior Eaddy Thriving in Role as Featured Back, Starring as PU Football Tops Columbia in Ivy Opener
GETTING THE CALL: Princeton University running back Collin Eaddy heads upfield last Saturday against Columbia. Junior star Eaddy rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown and had 52 yards receiving with a TD catch to help Princeton defeat Columbia 21-10. The 19th-ranked Tigers, now 3-0 and riding a 13-game winning streak, host Lafayette on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Coming into this fall, Collin Eaddy was fully prepared to be the featured running back for the Princeton University football team.
“It has been a cool experience, I got groomed into it playing behind Charlie [Volker], I was able to learn a ton from him and I really appreciate that,” said Eaddy, a 5’11, 210-pound native of Raleigh, N.C., who gained 663 yards last year as an understudy to the now-graduated Volker.
“Quigs [senior Ryan Quigley] is also an older guy so it was learning from those guys and spending a lot of time in the offseason working on various little aspects of my game.”
Last Saturday against visiting Columbia in the Ivy League opener for both teams, Eaddy displayed his diversified game, with 21 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown and making three receptions for 52 yards and a TD to help Princeton rally from a 10-7 halftime deficit and pull out a 21-10 win over the Lions before a crowd of 5,225 at Princeton Stadium.
“We knew they had a strong run defense, but we are not going to stray away from what we do best,” said Eaddy.
“I knew I would get carries. When we started rolling in the second quarter and after halftime, I got the ball more and you kind of get into a groove.” Eaddy and his teammates knew they faced a stiff test in a rugged Columbia squad.
“We get into Ivy League play, we know these guys are going to be good,” said Eaddy.
“They were top five rushing defense, so we knew that all week long that it was going to be a grind and that is exactly what it was. Our coach [Bob Surace] doesn’t lie to us, he tells us the truth. A shout out to those guys, with that defense, they are going to be all right this year.”
With the Tigers still trailing 10-7 midway through the third quarter, Eaddy kept grinding as he made some clutch runs. He bulled his way for two yards on a fourth and one at the Columbia 26 for a key first down and capped the drive with a one-yard TD plunge as Princeton went ahead 14-10 and never looked back.
“That is important. The running backs coach [Jamel Mutunga] always talks about driving the bus, and today it was on us to get those chunk plays and the first downs when it was really crucial,” said Eaddy. “That was a big thing for us”
Getting better at receiving has been a big thing for Eaddy, and his first touchdown of the day came on a 25-yard scoring strike from Kevin Davidson with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
“I spent a lot of time in the offseason just working on my hands in general and route running,” said Eaddy.
“Coach [Andrew] Aurich put me in some good positions to catch the ball and it worked out well.”
In the fourth quarter, Princeton worked the clock, putting together a 10-play, 80-yard scoring march that took 4:06 and ended with a 31-yard TD run by Quigley.
“We felt like we were the better team, we knew that they were going to have a lot of adrenaline coming in,” said Eaddy.
“Knowing last year that we got a big win (45-10) against them, they were going to come in here and play. I feel like we did wear them down, our coaches talk to us about being strong all the way through the whole game.”
Princeton head coach Bob Surace liked the strong effort he got from his team as it outlasted the Lions.
“I thought we did a really, really great job,” said Surace, as the Tigers improved to 3-0 and posted their 13th straight win.
“We buckled down when we needed to, we won third downs. Our pressure on the quarterback was outstanding. We ran the ball with authority.”
Even though Princeton was down 10-7 at halftime, Surace had words of encouragement, not criticism,
“They are used to me yelling at them when we are up by 35 points,” said Surace with a chuckle.
“I was literally excited, this was a resilience game. It was a mental toughness test. It was going to come down to a few plays and with a young team, you let them know that you believe in them. They were playing hard.”
The Tigers responded by playing hard to the final gun. “It was a battle every play; they are so good defensively,” said Surace. “You have to be so precise. We weren’t as completely on it as I would like us to be, but we made plays when we had to. We made great decisions.”
In Surace’s view, Eaddy is making a great contribution with his versatility.
“Most running backs come in and they are runners; they don’t have the complete game,” said Surace.
“Collin is really close to being the complete player. He has worked really hard to take that next step, so credit him. He has worked so hard to be a better blocker, to be a better receiver. We have done our best with he, Quigley, and Trey Gray to take advantage of them, not only as runners but in other capacities.”
While quarterback Davidson didn’t produce eye-popping numbers as he had in the first two games of the season, he took advantage of opportunities in hitting 22-of-31 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought Kevin managed this game so well,” said Surace. “On that third down [in the final scoring drive] where he took off and got the first down and slid, that was awesome. That is just mature for his fourth start. Seeing his maturity is like watching a guy just develop right under our eyes. As a coach you feel really good when you are seeing a guy just get better every day.”
As Princeton looks to defend its Ivy title after going 10-0 last fall, the hard-earned win over Columbia was a good first step.
“You want to get the first one; you always feel better getting one,” said Surace, whose team is now ranked 19th nationally in the AFCA Coaches’ Poll and will look to extend its winning streak when it hosts Lafayette (0-5) on October 11.
“There are four teams that are 1-0 and four teams that are 0-1. We wanted to get that first one. I thought our guys had a lot of resilience. You can mentally break against a defense like that. This is going to be hard, we are going to have to go 15 plays. When you play a defense where you are not making big plays, the drives are extended and you are not going to have the ball as much. You are not going to score 45 points against that defense so when you do have it, finishing that drive is even more important.”
Eaddy, for his part, was encouraged by how the Tigers finished off Columbia.
“We are going one game at a time; it is a different team this year so we have to play to our strengths and work on our weaknesses,” said Eaddy.
“Coach talked about executing and being decisive this week. I feel like we did that today, especially in the second half. We got the job done.”