Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scouting Princeton

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Before I analyze the Tigers, let's look at the announced starting lineups for Columbia according to the just released game notes.

At WR, Mike Stephens is indeed out and I expect him to be out for the next few weeks.

That gives the official start to seniors Paul Havas and Kurt Williams, with freshman Connor Nelligan and junior Ian Cummins as the backups.

Replacing Stephens on the two-deep as a kick returner is freshman Alec Fisher who impressed last week.

Nick Gerst is listed as the backup RB and hoping that means he will get more than the nine carries he had last Saturday.

Junior Eric Walker gets his first start, (at least on paper), at left guard.

On defense, AJ Maddox is listed as one starting corner... although he was listed as the starter last week too and he didn't play, (ah the little games with the two-deep, how much fun they must be to play). His absence, and Ross Morand's absence were sorely felt against Albany and getting either one back this Saturday could make a huge difference. Alas, Morand is not listed on the two-deep at all.

Other new names listed as backups include sophomore CB Jeremy Mingo and sophomore LB Brian East, (who got into a good deal of the Albany game).

Sophomore Paul Delaney is listed as the starting punter.

Princeton's Bob Surace is under the gun

Taking on the Tigers


The frustration in Tigertown is pretty obvious as Princeton is riding a 10 game losing streak and confidence in second year Head Coach Bob Surace is very low.

But Princeton's 0-2 record so far this season masks the fact that the Tigers player powerhouse Lehigh pretty tough in week one, and take away a turnover or two last week against Bucknell and you've got a team that some could argue is slowly on the rise.

But optimism alone won't turn this program around or grab them a win Saturday night.


This unit still doesn't seem to be buying in to OC James Perry's system or personality, but its injuries and other personnel issues that are the real problem.

QB Tommy Wornham have never been All Ivy caliber, and he's starting this season on a bad not. He's still struggling with interceptions and while he can be a good runner he's never had quite enough leg to win a game on his own.

Speaking of legs, Princeton seems to be recovering a bit in the running game for the first time since Jordan Culbreath went down with a life threatening genetic disease in 2009, (Culbreath came back to make a miraculous contribution last season, but well off his 1,200 yard pace of 2008. He has now graduated and is thankfully doing pretty well).

The Tigers sent up a glimmer of rushing hope in week one when freshman Chuck Dibilio had a strong performance against Lehigh and earned Ivy Rookie of the Week honors. But Debillo is not listed on the two deep at this week and it's a mystery whether he's 100%.

Junior Akil Sharp is doing a decent job getting most of the carries other than Debillo, but he only has 16 carries total.

A bigger concern is the wide receiving corps. Senior Isaac Serwanga, (a guy Columbia recruited heavily), is the go-to guy right now but this crew is as thin as we thought it would be at the beginning of the season after Trey Peacock graduated.


This unit was supposed to be much improved with the return of star players like senior LB Steven Cody who missed just about all of last year with an injury.

But it's hard to judge how badly the defense is doing on numbers alone, because Princeton played offensive juggernaut Lehigh in game one and gave up a lot of points because of offensive turnovers in week two against Bucknell.

Cody is indeed still the leader, but another star is junior DT Caraun Reid from the Bronx.

Junior SS Mandela Shaeffer is the team's leading tackler, which says a lot of good things about him but bad things about a defense with a defensive back as its top tackler.

Special Teams

Special teams are a definite strength for Princeton up and down the line.

Senior PK Patrick Jacob may be the best in the league, while junior punter Joe Cloud is also excellent.

The RB Sharp is a dangerous kick returner and is generally more dangerous at this position than with the set offense.

Kickoff is 6pm at Princeton Stadium.

There are just a few days left to register for the cool Columbia tailgate event at Princeton Stadium.

The deadline to RSVP is September 30th.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.


At Thu Sep 29, 02:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see that Eric Walker has broken into the starting line-up at offensive guard. He will help us immediately on the offensive line.

At Thu Sep 29, 04:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Inwood Dave said...

Some random notes from the only Tiger fan who reads this blog:

- I have no idea why Princeton plays all their games at night -- this is the third one in a row. Maybe they let the much more popular basketball team use the stadium during the day for practice. (That was a joke, but not far off.) Will the night/lights distract the Lions? Princeton is pretty used to it by now though they also lose all the time, so it's probably a wash.

- While the Tigers may lose again to Columbia (utterly unthinkable during the 90s), you can rest assured that the bigger, funnier, peppier Princeton Band will whip the Columbia Band but good. They actually remember to play more than once every 20 minutes in the stands and bring life to the whole atmosphere. Look for a band concert in (that's "in", not "at") the Woodrow Wilson fountain after the game should Princeton pull out a "W".

- Attendance for this one should be around 9,000 or so. First Ivy home game, but at night, bad team, and Columbia at that. A bit more lively than your typical game at Wien, but nothing too rowdy or distracting. Will be very family-friendly if you take the kids.

- Princeton has pretty much zero rivalry with Columbia, no matter the recent history. Columbia hates Princeton at almost Penn-like levels, yet Princeton only considers itself a rival to Yale, who spurns them in order to direct their love/hate to Harvard, who consider themselves rivals to no one. ("Rivalries" in the Ivy League can be pretty one-way.) From Princeton's perspective, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown are pretty much interchangeable non-entities on the sporting field. You expect to beat them, and if you don't, meh.

At Thu Sep 29, 04:11:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Columbia does most of its practicinh at night.

At Thu Sep 29, 04:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Mitch '68 said...

Nelligan is potentially a star player. His hs reel on youtube is the most impressive I've seen, playing both O and D. He's skilled and also really aggressive.

Mitch '68

At Thu Sep 29, 04:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dibilio is not on two deep because Mills is regarded as the TB backup; he was hurt and unavailable for Lehigh. Hence,Dibilio got his chance and made the most of it,boding well for the long-term. Mills is now healthy.

The thin Tiger WR corps is even thinner with first game starter Connor Kelley out. As a former QB last year, he also adds other dimensions to a struggling offense and will be missed.

At Thu Sep 29, 04:43:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analysis, Jake. A rerun of the Princeton-Lehigh game was, for some reason, on cable last night in NYC and I watched a little of it. The RB Dibilio is very good, very shifty. Wornham rarely throws the ball downfield but he moves well and is an accurate short passer. Princeton looked okay vs. Lehigh. They dropped an easy pick and got hurt by a no-call on an obvious pass interference by Lehigh in the end zone. They get the pick and the call and maybe they win. I suspect this will be a close game, especially if Dibilio plays.

As for the Tiger fan, I'm a die-hard CU alum and fan but even I find it amusing that our contempt for Princeton is both bottomless ceaselessly proclaimed and yet Princetonians are only vaguely aware of our existence. Your indifference only makes us hate you more!

At Thu Sep 29, 04:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The outcome of this game will set the tone for the rest of the season. This is a must win game for the Lions !
Preparation and execution are critical for us to win. Defense must tackle and pass coverage is critical especially for LB 's . We can't have turnovers, they are game changers. Go Lions,

At Thu Sep 29, 08:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tiger guy forgot to put down Dartmouth for some reason....

At Thu Sep 29, 08:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, my mistake. He did slam Dartmouth. That's more like the Princeton arrogance we have all come to know...

At Thu Sep 29, 08:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one more comment on Princeton.

One of the happiest moments in my life was the Lions' victory over them at St. John arena in the Ivy League playoff in 1968.

We had a good laugh as we headed to the subway watching all the fancy sports cars heading out of the parking lot on the run back to Jersey.

As a normal working class kid it never occurred to me to apply to Princeton, thank God. They would probably given me a work-study job polishing those sports cars.

Go Lions!

At Thu Sep 29, 09:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Inwood Dave said...

I think you guys are reading a bit too much into my tongue-in-cheek. Princeton alums are only arrogant if that is what you want to see them as. I was just giving you a little bit of context from the perspective of Princeton football games. And by the way, we truly enjoy every single visiting crowd that comes to town slamming us for "New Jersey", turnpike exits, county club snobs, J. Crew wardrobes, blah blah blah. Very original, hardy har har.

If it warms your heart any, Columbia is now a more selective school to get into than Princeton (6.4% to 8.4%). So just chant "6 point 4" during the game to send the Nassau elite home in tears.

At Thu Sep 29, 10:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, give the Princeton guy a break...he seems balanced enough. I know plenty of normal ones. But the subset of elitists are pretty good at it, which is why Columbia fans react as we do.

At Thu Sep 29, 10:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Princeton fan and I read this excellent blog and I'd like to win this game.

At Thu Sep 29, 11:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Inwood Tiger we are sweating the admissions rate. A lot. Meaningless statistics.

But if I was not someone likely to be invited to one of your eating clubs I would say stay far away if you did not want to be treated as the hoi polloi. Or do you claim that Princeton is now a meritocracy that welcomes rabble such as me? Maybe the place has dramatically changed.

I will always thank God that I went to the least "ivy" of the League. Life is too short to worry about social class when trying to study Western Civilization.

Anyway you seem like the least offensive Tiger I have run into lately. Thanks for your comments and good luck to your team except for the next game.

At Thu Sep 29, 03:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice retort by that Princetonian. What can you say after that?

At Thu Sep 29, 11:16:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is clear that the biggest rivalry is Yale/Harvard, which no one can touch--it is hands down the oldest rivalry in the history of college sports.It's just a fact, not a judgement, and will never change as long as the sun comes up. The Princeton rivalry to Yale seems minor in comparison,and the rest of the Ivy League has nothing really comparable. Having said that, nothing diminishes the intense desire for every Ivy to want to beat their league opponent whenever and as often as possbile!

At Thu Sep 29, 11:25:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some CU fans seem to want to ignore the fact Princeton has a higher percentage of students on financial aid than Columbia. You're still fighting 1950's stereotypes.

At Fri Sep 30, 02:14:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

It is absolutely unconscionable that Stephens is out following a kickoff return against Albany in a game which, at that point, was out of reach. Did we not learn from our mistakes from the previous year? This was a poor personnel decision that we as fans of this board anticipated...
Are Brackets interceptions up because of: a) poor pass protection
b) poor decisions
c) lack of separation
from our suddenly
depleted receiving
corps ?
I 'd look for our running game to jell now that we've had two weeks for the OL to work out kinks. Look for Gerst to shine( unless we have him running back kicks!)


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