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Experienced Defensive Backfield Is Focus Of Football Preview Series

Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications                                                                      Release: 09/03/2013
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Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer
Sophomore Anthony Gaffney returns as a first-team All-Ivy League cornerback.
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Preseason Preview Videos: Offensive Line l Offensive Skill l Quarterbacks l Defensive Line
Linebackers l Defensive Backfield l Overview

One year ago, this is what you knew about the defensive backfield: Khamal Brown was your top cornerback, and Mandela Sheaffer was your most experienced safety.

Neither holds true this season, but Princeton still feels like it has more answers heading into the 2013 season than it did at any similar point in the Bob Surace era.

In the sixth part of Princeton's seven-part video preview series on the 2013 football season, the panel looks at the defensive backfield, an area that must be prepared to stop several premier offenses in the Ivy League this season.

The conversation starts with first-team All-Ivy League cornerback Anthony Gaffney, who enters his sophomore season as an anchor on the defense. Gaffney started all 10 games at cornerback last season and recorded three interceptions, including two in the Ivy-opening win at Columbia.

The coaching staff was excited to see how far his game could come after a full offseason, but they will also be looking across the field at a host of challengers for the No. 2 cornerback position. The likes of Jakobi Johnson, John Hill and Trocon Davis will be among a handful of players who will get quality time this season. While one will win the starting spot, others will be needed often in nickel and dime spots, so the competition will be an interesting one to watch.

Early in his Princeton career, senior co-captain Phillip Bhaya was needed to play cornerback, but he moved to his more natural safety position and seemed immediately comfortable in the spot. His interception return for a score helped break open the win at Lafayette, and he had a key turnover against Harvard to keep the Tigers alive in the first half.

He will look to his side and see sophomore Matt Arends, who also moves from cornerback and will take over for Sheaffer. The coaches saw this as his inevitable position, even while they needed him to play corner last year, and the immediate results have been exciting.

You can watch the preview series video, which includes PrincetonTigersFootball.com writer Jay Greenberg and Princeton radio commentator Dan Loney, by clicking on the play link on the image above. If you are receiving this as an email newsletter, please note that you will need to access this on GoPrincetonTigers.com to view the video.

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