Under Friday Night Lights, Tigers Prepare For Home Opener, ESPNU Cameras
The Princeton football team is looking to build off a strong second half at nationally ranked Lehigh, and it knows it will be tested again by Patriot League contender Georgetown Friday night. With both a home crowd and the ESPNU cameras in Princeton Stadium, the Tigers know this is a perfect time for their first win of the season.
WEEK 2 LINKS:
All-Time Series: Princeton 5-0
Last Year: no game
Last At Site: no game
Last Five Years: 0-0
Last Princeton Win: PRINCETON 17, Georgetown 0 (1923)
Current Streak: Princeton 5
Princeton will make its 2012 home debut Friday night when it hosts Patriot League contender Georgetown at 7 pm on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Princeton leads the all-time series with Georgetown 5-0, though the two teams haven’t played since a 17-0 Tiger victory in 1923. In five meetings between 1903-1923, the Tigers have never allowed a single point by the Hoyas.
Lights, Camera, Action
Friday night will be the first of at least five games that will be available to a live national audience on at least one platform. ESPNU will televise the Princeton-Georgetown game, with Joe Beninati and Rene Ingoglia calling the action. The game will also be available live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, the online and mobile streaming platforms for ESPN. This will be Princeton’s fifth game all-time on ESPNU; the Tigers are 2-2, though they have lost their last two, including a double-overtime home loss to Colgate during the 2009 season.
Princeton will also have games on both the NBC Sports Network (Brown) and the YES Network (Yale) this season, while both the Harvard and Penn games will be available on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
All 10 Princeton games can be heard live on WPRB 103.3 FM and on GoPrinceton Tigers.com. Dan Loney will be calling all games this season.
The first 2,000 fans at Princeton Stadium Friday night will receive a free football schedule magnet, courtesy of Suburban Transit.
Home And Home
Since 2001, Princeton has had significantly different results in its home openers depending on whether they were played in Week 1 or Week 2.
During that period, Princeton’s season opener has been played at home five times, and the Tigers have gone 1-4 during that stretch. In the six years that the home opener has come in Week 2, the Tigers are 6-0. Four of those six victories have followed losses.
Princeton is 1-6 in its last six games against Patriot League opponents, including last weekend’s loss at Lehigh. Prior to that stretch, Princeton had gone 6-2 against the Patriot League.
Princeton dropped its season opener to Lehigh 17-14 last weekend, though the Tigers played a significantly different level of football in the second half. Princeton trailed 17-0 at halftime, but scored twice in the fourth quarter to get within three points of the two-time
defending Patriot League champion. It marked the sixth straight season that Princeton has lost its season opener, though it has come back four times in the previous five years to win in Week 2.
Georgetown also lost last weekend, as a 98-yard touchdown pass helped lead Yale to a 24-21 road victory over the Hoyas. It was Georgetown’s first loss of the season.
Sophomore Connor Michelsen started the season opener at quarterback last weekend and completed 14 of 30 passes for 103 yards. The last two sophomores to start at quarterback during a Princeton season opener were Tommy Wornham (2009) and David Splithoff (2001).
Michelsen led Princeton to two first downs and no points in the first hald against Lehigh; in the second half, Princeton recorded 10 first downs and 14 points. Michelsen had only five completions in the first half for 29 yards. He had nine in the second half for 74 yards.
With Chuck Dibilio being unable to play this season and junior Brian Mills being moved to defensive back during the spring, the most experienced tailback for the 2012 season is senior Akil Sharp. He showed why head coach Bob Surace felt good about the running game last weekend; Sharp was named to the All-Ivy League Honor Roll after rushing for 79 yards on 22 carries and scoring two touchdowns.
A Family Affair
Freshman DiAndre Atwater played on special teams last weekend, but he could be a prominent part of the rushing attack this season. He is the son of former All-Pro safety Steve Atwater, who made his name on the great Denver Broncos teams.
If Atwater makes his offensive debut tonight, another family member will be there to see it. Brother Steve is a junior defensive back on the Georgetown Hoyas.
After two injury-plagued seasons, junior wideout Roman Wilson looks ready to have his best year at Princeton. He led the Tigers with four catches for 40 yards last weekend, and he added a two-point conversion catch to get Princeton within three points.
In his first two years at Princeton, Wilson had recorded a total of three receptions for only 25 yards.
Tackling The Issue
Senior Andrew Starks has led Princeton in tackles every year under head coach Bob Surace. He got off to a nice start in 2012, recording a team-best 11 tackles last weekend to earn a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll. In each of the previous two seasons, Starks averaged a team-best 8.9 tackles per game.
Starks had seven solo tackles and two stops for losses; last season, Starks had only five tackles for losses the entire season.
Reid It And Weep
Princeton has one returning first-team All-Ivy League honoree in senior defensive lineman Caraun Reid, who led all Ivy linemen with 68 tackles, including 29 solo stops. He led Princeton in tackles for loss (16), sacks (eight), pass breakups (three), quarterback hurries (three) and blocked kicks (three) last season and has recorded more than 20 sacks in his two seasons as a starter.
Reid was credited with only one tackle last weekend, though both he and fellow All-Ivy honoree Mike Catapano were consistent forces in the backfield.
Junior Phillip Bhaya started the 2011 season opener at cornerback, but he was overtaken by then-freshman Khamal Brown for the
remainder of the year. Bhaya looks like he has found his comfort zone now at free safety, where he had eight tackles, including seven solo stops, against Lehigh. He also had a pass break-up to go along with a number of tackles that seemed to be heard throughout Goodman Stadium.
The Middle Of It All
Junior Greg Sotereanos matched a career high last weekend with five tackles, all of which were solo stops. The second-year starter at nose tackle, Sotereanos is the link between Caraun Reid and Mike Catapano on a defensive line that figures to be Princeton’s strength in 2012.
While several freshmen made their collegiate debuts last weekend, none turned as many heads as Anthony Gaffney, who played in all three areas at Lehigh.
Gaffney was the starting cornerback, opposite of Khamal Brown, and he recorded two tackles and one pass breakup. He was also used on a handful of offensive plays and ran one end around for a three-year gain.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also returned one kickoff for 27 yards.
Princeton head coach Bob Surace talked about using two quarterbacks during the preseason, and he backed those words up in the opener against Lehigh. While Connor Michelsen got the majority of the offensive snaps, fellow sophomore Quinn Epperly played in both halves; he completed one pass for six yards and rushed three times for 13 yards.
Epperly was the more experienced of the two quarterbacks heading into the season; he played a significant amount during the second half of the season and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after his first career start in the 2011 season finale against Dartmouth.
Senior punter Joe Cloud is a two-time All-Ivy League selection, and he is averaging more than 40 yards per punt in his career. He has 23 career punts that have pinned opponents inside the 20, and he has 19 punts of greater than 50 yards.
Cloud currently ranks second in the Ivy League with a punting average of 42.8 yards. He punted 12 times last weekend, with four ending inside the 20 and three going more than 50 yards, including a 65-yarder.
Lights, Camera, Action
Princeton will play several games on either national television or Watch/ESPN or ESPN3 (the ESPN online streaming services).
The Sept. 21 home game with Georgetown will be on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
The Oct. 13 home game with Brown will be on the NBC Sports Network.
The Oct. 20 and Nov. 3 home games with both Harvard and Penn will be on ESPN3.
The Nov. 10 road game at Yale will be on the YES Network.
Princeton was picked to finish eighth in the 2012 Ivy League media preseason poll. Reigning champion Harvard was picked first, followed by 2009 and 2010 champion Penn.
Dan Loney will be the radio voice for the Princeton football team this season; all 10 games can be heard live on WPRB 103.3 FM and on GoPrincetonTigers.com.
GoPrincetonTigers.TV will have video coverage and highlights of the team throughout the season. Due to contractual issues with ESPN/NBC Sports Network, the only live streamed game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium with be the Nov. 17 game against Dartmouth.
GoPrincetonTigers.com will provide weekly coverage of the team, including previews, postgame recaps, video interviews, highlights, stats, bios, podcasts, blogs and more.
For those on Twitter, you can get coverage at @PUTIGERS (the official Twitter handle for the athletic department) and at @PUTigerFootball.
The football team has its own site, PrincetonTigersFootball.com, and Jay Greenberg will be writing three blogs each week during the season.
The Crystal Ball
Princeton will play its Ivy League opener next weekend when it travels to Robert K. Kraft Field in New York City to take on Columbia. The Lions opened their season with a 10-9 home win over Marist last weekend, and will host Fordham Saturday afternoon.
Princeton earned a 24-21 home win over Columbia last season, while the Lions won the last meeting in New York City 42-14 (2010). The Lions are now led by head coach Pete Mangurian, who had a 2-1 record against Princeton while coaching at Cornell (2008-2010). Mangurian was the opposing head coach in the first game ever played at Princeton Stadium.
The winner next weekend would take its first step in disproving the low expectations of local prognosticators. Columbia was picked to finish seventh in the Ivy League, one spot higher than Princeton.
Princeton is on the road the next two weeks, but will return to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium Sat., Oct. 13, for a noon showdown with Brown. That game will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network.
The Bears have won five straight in the series, including a 34-0 victory in Providence last year.