Football Opens 143rd Season Saturday, Hosts No. 16 Lehigh
Princeton has been waiting 42 weeks to get back on the football field, and it will do so Saturday night against the highest-ranked team it has faced in years. The 16th-ranked Lehigh Mountain Hawks, winners of the 2010 Patriot League title, will be the Tigers' first opponent Saturday night at 6 p.m. on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.
This is part of the GoPrincetonTigers.com wall-to-wall coverage of Opening Day of the 2011 Princeton football season. This coverage includes:
Friday, Sept. 9 - Offensive coordinator James Perry on Media Day
Monday, Sept. 12 - Defensive coordinator Jared Backus on Media Day l Season preview Q&A
Tuesday, Sept. 13 - Lehigh preview/game notes (including depth chart)
Wednesday, Sept. 14 - Head coach Bob Surace on Media Day
Thursday, Sept. 15 - 2011 debut of TigerCast, including Lehigh preview
Friday, Sept. 16 - Notes on following your Tigers throughout the season
|Date/Time||Sept. 17/6 p.m.|
|Field||Powers Field at Princeton Stadium|
|All-Time Series||Princeton 39-13-2|
|Last Year||LEHIGH 35, Princeton 22|
|Last At Site||PRINCETON 10, Lehigh 7 (2008)|
|Last Five Years||Princeton 3-2|
|Current Streak||Lehigh 1|
Game Notes • Week 1
A Few Fast Facts To Get You Ready…
In the last 10 years, Princeton is 3-7 in opening games. In the three seasons it won its opener, the team combined for a 21-9 record and won the 2006 Ivy League title. In the other seven seasons, including last year, Princeton had only one winning season (2002).
During that 10-year stretch, the Tigers opened more seasons (five) with Lehigh than anybody else. The Mountain Hawks have won four of those five openers, including a 35-22 shootout last season. The one Princeton win during that stretch opened the 2006 Ivy championship season.
Lights, Camera, Action
The Princeton-Lehigh game will be televised live on WFMZ-TV and FCS Atlantic, with Steve
Degler providing play-by-play and Mike Yadush handling color commentary. The game can also be seen locally on Verizon FIOS 1, as well as online at GoPrincetonTigers.com
Princeton and Lehigh have played each of the last five seasons, and the Tigers own a 3-2 edge. While the Mountain Hawks may have owned the advantage in opening games,
Princeton beat Lehigh in Week 2 of both the 2008 and 2009 season.
Light Them Up
Princeton is playing its first of three consecutive home night games tonight. The Tigers will be looking to re-capture the night magic of 2010, when they topped Lafayette in double-OT during the home opener.
Two of Princeton’s most important defensive players will be seeing their first action since the 2010 Lehigh game. Both senior linebacker Steven Cody and junior defensive lineman Caraun Reid were injured in Bethlehem last season and missed the final nine games.
Cody was a 2010 first-team All-Ivy League selection and led Princeton in tackles in both 2009 and 2010. Reid made 34 tackles in 2009 and earned the team’s Top Defensive Freshman honor during The Donold B. Lourie ’22 Football Banquet.
Princeton is led by three senior captains this season. Cody, voted captain of the 2010 team as well, has returned to that position. He is joined by quarterback Tommy Wornham, who is playing his first game since Week 5 of last season, and defensive lineman Mike Catapano.
Princeton has won its home opener seven times in the last 10 seasons, including both a 10-7 win over Lehigh in 2008, and last season.
In the last two Princeton-Lehigh games, the team that has gotten the most first downs has lost. In both cases, the losing team recorded 22 first downs. Last season, Lehigh recorded 17 in a 35-22 victory; in 2009, Princeton recorded six first downs in a 17-14.
Last year, Princeton came into its season opener with seven new coaches, including a new head coach and two new coordinators. This year, Princeton has only one new coach in Andrew Aurich ’06, a former Tiger starter on the offensive line. Aurich comes from the coaching staff at Rutgers and will coach the running backs.
Princeton radio voice Dan Loney will be part of the new “Inside Ivy League Football,” an in-depth look at both the on-field action and all the news and notes surrounding Ivy football. The 10-episode show will air Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on BlogTalkRadio.com, and will feature interviews with players and coaches, as well as analysis on each of the Ivy teams.
Princeton was picked to finish in a tie for seventh with Cornell in the 2011 Ivy League preseason poll; the Tigers have never been picked below sixth in the poll. The last two times Princeton was picked sixth were 2010, when the team finished last in the league, and 2006, when the team
The Crystal Ball
Princeton will welcome Bucknell to Powers Field next Saturday at 6 p.m. for the first meeting between the two programs since 1996. The Bison are led by head coach Joe Susan, who was the Princeton offensive coordinator during that 1996 game. The Bison are playing against Cornell tonight in the Big Red’s season opener.
A Princeton Win Would …
• give Princeton a victory in the season opener for the first time since 2006; that season, Princeton went on to win the Ivy League title.
• give Princeton its sixth win in its last eight home openers.
• end an eight-game losing streak, dating back to last season.
• be its fourth win over Lehigh in the last six meetings; prior to that, Lehigh had won seven straight over Princeton from 1996-2003.
• give Princeton its first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 22 Lafayette on Sept. 22, 2007.
• give Princeton its first home win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 16
Harvard on Oct. 22, 2006.
Offensive Notes and Anecdotes…
After starting 15 straight games from the start of his sophomore season through Week 5 last year, Tommy Wornham will return to the field as the starting quarterback. He is the first Princeton quarterback to start games in three different seasons since 2002-04, when Matt Verbit ’05 started the final 24 consecutive games of his career.
Prior to his injury, Wornham was on pace for one of the most productive seasons in Princeton history. He ranked 12th in the FCS and first in the Ivy League with 284.5 yards of total offense per game. He threw for 266 yards per game, second-best in the Ivy League at the time. Had he played 10 games to both averages, he would have placed third in both Princeton single-season rankings.
Wornham currently ranks ninth on the all-time Princeton passing list with 2,735 career yards. He is 124 yards away from the eighth spot, currently held by Brent Woods ’83.
Princeton averaged 330.7 yards of total offense per game last season, but it recorded 528 yards in the 2010 season opener at Lehigh. Tommy Wornham threw for 392 yards, tied for the 13th-highest total in program history and the second-most in the last 20 years.
Line ’Em Up
In the 2010 season opener, Princeton started more offensive linemen who moved from defense during the offseason (two) than it did returning starters (one). This season, all five linemen will have started at least one game over the last two years; included is left tackle Kevin Mill, who finished the 2009 season as a starter before suffering a season-ending injury before the 2010 season. The trio of seniors Matt Allen and Kevin DeMaio and sophomore Joe Goss combined for 27 of a possible 30 starts in 2010.
Princeton will be depending on some new faces to provide a scoring punch this season. Of the Tigers’ 19 touchdowns scored in 2010, only three were scored by returning players: Tommy Wornham rushed for two touchdowns and Brian Mills rushed for one.
Only three players on the Princeton roster have ever scored a collegiate touchdown. The third is senior linebacker Steven Cody, who returned a 77-yard interception for a touchdown during the 14-7 win at Lehigh two years ago.
Princeton will need to do a better job of capitalizing on its opportunities tonight. In the last three games against Lehigh, the Tigers have reached the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20) nine times and scored only one touchdown.
The last three touchdowns Princeton has scored on Lehigh have all begun on the opposite end of the field. Besides Steven Cody’s 77-yard interception two seasons ago, Tommy Wornham scored on a 68-yard touchdown run. Last season, Princeton’s only touchdown came on an 80-yard pass from Wornham to Trey Peacock.
Senior placekicker Patrick Jacob made his collegiate debut a memorable one against Lehigh last season. He made five field goals, including a long of 43, and was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week. Only one other FCS kicker has ever made five field goals in his collegiate debut, and it hasn’t happened since 1983.
Defensive Notes and Anecdotes…
Hold Them Back
Princeton and Lehigh have split the past six games in this rivalry. In the Tigers’ three victories, the defense has limited Lehigh to an average of 10.3 points per game. In the Tigers’ three losses, the Mountain Hawks have averaged 31.7 points per game.
Quick As A Cat
Senior tri-captain Mike Catapano had one of his best games last season against Lehigh. He
recorded three tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup in what would ultimately be an All-Ivy League season for Catapano.
The 6-4, 280-pound defensive lineman was one of two Princeton players honored as preseason All-Americas this year. Both he and kicker Patrick Jacob received that distinction from the FCS Senior Scout Bowl selection committee.
Tackling The Issue
Senior tri-captain Steven Cody has led Princeton in tackles in each of his two seasons as a full-time starter. A two-time All-Ivy League honoree, Cody has averaged 9.6 tackles per game in his 21 starts at linebacker, including the 12 he made against Lehigh last season before suffering his season-ending injury. As a point of comparison, only three players in the Ivy League averaged more than 9.6 tackles per game last season, and only one returns this season (Yale senior linebacker Jordan Haynes).
The Stark Truth
No underclassman in the Ivy League recorded more tackles last season than linebacker Andrew Starks, who made 89 stops in his first year as a starter. He earned All-Ivy League Honorable Mention last season and has impressed the coaching staff this preseason with improvements on pass defense.
Senior Blake Clemons is Princeton’s most experienced player in the defensive backfield, and he is expected to start at one cornerback position tonight. He has two career interceptions, including one last season in the opener against Lehigh.
42.7 Yards And A Cloud Of Dust
Junior punter Joe Cloud earned All-Ivy League honors last season after leading the league with a 42.7-yard punting average. He had eight punts of over 50 yards last season, including a best of 67.
Last Year: LEHIGH 35, Princeton 22
Despite gaining 528 total yards, including 392 in the air, Princeton fell to Lehigh 35-22 in its 2010 season opener at Goodman Stadium. Penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities plagued a squad that fought hard in the debut of head coach Bob Surace.
Princeton, displaying its no-huddle offense for the first time, gained 201 more yards than the eventual Patriot League champion, but it managed only one trip to the end zone. Mountain Hawk tight end Alex Wojdowski scored twice on his own and set up a third score to help Lehigh pick up its second win of the season.
Quarterback Tommy Wornham completed 32 of 51 passes for 392 yards and a touchdown, and he added seven rushes for 17 yards. Senior Trey Peacock caught eight balls for 196 yards and a touchdown; his 196 receiving yards ranked eighth-best all-time at Princeton and were the most since 1991. Classmate Andrew Kerr caught a career-high 11 passes for 125 yards.
Making his triumphant return to the field was senior running back Jordan Culbreath, who started and gained 56 yards on nine carries, a team-best 6.2-yard average. Freshman Brian Mills showed early promise as well, gaining 35 yards on seven carries for a 5-yard average.
Steven Cody led the defense with 12 tackles, but he broke his leg in the fourth quarter and missed the rest of the season. Linebacker Andrew Starks added six tackles, while Matt Landry recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Defensive back Blake Clemons had his second career interception. The Tiger defense forced two turnovers; besides Clemons’ interception, junior Mike Catapano recovered a fumble.
Kicker Patrick Jacob had an impressive career debut, making five of six field goals, including one from 43 yards. It was the most field goals for a Princeton kicker since Derek Javarone kicked five in a 2003 win over Columbia. He would go on to win Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Princeton hurt itself with penalties (10 for 91 yards) and turnovers, including an interception to end a potential go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.