There is a reason why mid-terms are in October and finals are at the end of the semester. Students do the work class after class, week after week, and then get challenged afterwards.
Imagine getting your syllabus, having a couple weeks to do some reading, and then taking a major test during your first class.
That’s what you, as well as a nationwide audience on the NBC Sports Network, will see Saturday night at 6 pm. The Princeton football team is walking into the classroom for the first time, and it may see the highest-ranked opponent it will see in all of 2013.
But that is the way head coach Bob Surace wants it. After a big step forward last season, he wants to see just how far his team has come in nine months. After all, the next 10 weeks have the potential to be something pretty special.
Princeton has waited long enough. So have you. Let’s go.
|#22 Lehigh (2-0) at Princeton (0-0)
Preseason Preview Videos: Offensive Line l Offensive Skill l Quarterbacks l Defensive Line
Linebackers l Defensive Backfield l Overview
Lights, Camera, Action
Saturday’s season opener for Princeton will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network in the opening game of the network’s Ivy League package. Randy Moss and former Princeton and NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker ’01 will call the game.
Last season, Princeton hosted Brown on the NBC Sports Network and recorded a 19-0 shutout of Brown during the Tigers’ four-game win streak.
If you can't be at the game or by your television, the game will be streamed live on the NBC Sports Live Extra web page, as well as on the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app. Fans outside of the United States can see the live video stream via the Ivy League Digital Network; more information is available below.
The Ivy League schedule changed in 2000, and teams began to open their seasons against non-Ivy opponents, all of whom typically play at least twice before that game. Since Princeton went to that format, the Tigers have gone 3-10 in their season openers, and they have lost each of their last six (including the last three to Lehigh).
Princeton’s last season-opening victory came in 2006; the Tigers went on to win the Ivy League title that season.
Though Princeton scored the final 14 points in the 2012 season opener, the Tigers fell 17-14 to Lehigh last season in large part because of how they played at the start of the game. In Princeton’s first six drives of the game, the Tigers gained a total of 19 yards and didn’t gain a first down until there were three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Lehigh has won three straight games against Princeton, marking the second-longest winning streak for the Mountain Hawks in a series that dates back to 1887. From 1996 through 2003, Lehigh won seven straight, but Princeton followed with three wins over the next four games.
Overall, Princeton leads the all-time series 39-15-2.
Rank And File
Princeton is looking for its first victory over a nationally ranked team since Sept. 22, 2007, when the Tigers went on the road and recorded a 20-14 win over 22nd-ranked Lafayette.
After winning only one game in both 2010 and 2011, the Princeton
Tigers won five last season. The four-win improvement is the program’s most since 1991, when Princeton went 8-2 after a 3-7 season.
Princeton was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League preseason poll, which is three spots higher than it was picked to finish last season. The Tigers play all four teams picked to finish higher than them on the road, and all three teams picked to finish below them at home.
Lehigh was picked to finish second in the Patriot League preseason poll, behind only Colgate. After winning its league in both 2010 and 2011, the Mountain Hawks fell to Colgate last season.
Reid It And Weep
Senior defensive lineman Caraun Reid, a 2012 All-America and first-team All-Ivy League honoree, was named to the Preseason All-America team. Despite facing double teams throughout the season, Reid had 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season.
Captains Of The Ship
Caraun Reid joins senior safety Phillip Bhaya, who shared the team lead with three interceptions last season, as the 2012 Princeton co-captains.
Tackling The Issue
While Princeton returns plenty of experience in several areas, the Tigers did graduate their top two tackles last season (Andrew Starks and Tim Kingsbury), both of whom earned All-Ivy honors. The top returning tackler from 2012 is senior Alex Polofsky, who made 67 stops last season.
First Team, Second Time
It’s impressive enough to make the All-Ivy League First Team as a freshman, but it’s something special to do it twice. Sophomore Anthony Gaffney earned first-team honors as both a cornerback and a kickoff return specialist last season.
Gaffney recorded a team-high three interceptions last season, and he also opened the Ivy League season with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Columbia.
Old Faces, New Places
Two names that grew quite familiar with Princeton fans last season were Matt Arends and Mike Zeuli. Both are back, but in new positions for the 2013 season. Arends, who started the last six games at cornerback during his freshman season, is the starting strong safety. Zeuli, who played nickel cornerback last year, has moved to the strong-side linebacker spot.
Cat And Mouse
One name Princeton fans will certainly miss this season is Mike Catapano, the 2012 Bushnell Cup recipient as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. He was drafted with the first pick of the seventh round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Catapano is the 13th player from Princeton to ever get drafted,
although the 10th in the modern era (post-merge), and the first since Dennis Norman was selected by Seattle in 2001. Since the modern era, only two Princeton players have been drafted before him: Jon Schultheis (Philadelphia, 1983, 182nd pick) and Bob Hews (Kansas City, 1970, 156th pick).
Playing The Percentages
Princeton scored 35 touchdowns last season and it returns players who scored 28 of them (80%). Fourteen returnees scored at least one last season, including All-Ivy League wide receiver Roman Wilson, who led Princeton with seven scores in 2012. Wilson also led the Ivy League with 17.5 yards per catch.
At this point last season, the quarterbacks on the Princeton roster had started all of one game. Last season, three different underclassmen played the position, with the majority of the time being split between
Connor Michelsen (1,634 yds, 6 TDs, Ivy Offensive Player of the Week vs. Harvard) and Quinn Epperly (794 yds of total offense, 6 TD passes and 6 TD runs, threw winning touchdown pass against Harvard).
For the 11th straight game, both Michelsen and Epperly are listed as the co-starting quarterbacks.
Princeton averaged only 3.3 yards per passing attempt against Lehigh last season. The next lowest total for Princeton in a game was 5.7 yards, which came against Penn. The Tigers also averaged only 2.9 yards per play; they averaged at least four in every game.
Senior Brian Mills, who earned the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week award after Princeton defeated Columbia in 2011, has returned to running back after playing defensive back last season. Mills joins a backfield that returns 2012 rushing leader Will Powers (114 for 455), DiAndre Atwater (39 for 181) and Dré Nelson (19 for 63).
Nobody scored more rushing touchdowns last season than Quinn Epperly, who averaged 4.4 yards per carry and ran for six scores. Five of his touchdown rushes came in Princeton’s final five games of the season.
While Princeton’s offense started to click midway through the season, the Tigers will be looking for a far quicker start than it had last season. In the 2012 season opener at Lehigh, Princeton gained a total of 19 yards and zero first downs in its first six drives against the Mountain Hawks.
Princeton went 3-1 last season when it was +1 or better in turnover margin, and it was 0-3 when it was -1 or worse. During Bob Surace’s three seasons at Princeton, the Tigers have gone 1-15 when they are at least -1 in turnover margin.
Just For Kicks
While several freshmen are expected to see time early in the season, the only newcomer in the projected starting lineup is punter Tyler Roth, who replaces All-Ivy punter Joe Cloud. Roth was a first-team All-Pennsylvania punter while at Mount Lebanon in Pittsburgh.
The Crystal Ball
Princeton will head to Georgetown next weekend for a 2 pm showdown at Multi-Sport Field. Last season, Georgetown kicked a 33-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to rally for a
Home Sweet Home
Princeton returns to Powers Field Oct. 5 (1 pm) for the Ivy League opener against Columbia. If you can’t make it, all three Ivy League home games will be shown live on ESPN3.
Princeton plays four Ivy League road games this season, and each will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network. For more information, see below.
The Ivy League® Digital Network is the Ivy League’s first-ever digital sports network at IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com.
Featuring live and on-demand video and audio content from home and away contests across a variety of sports, the nine-channel network features a channel for each of the eight schools and a League-wide channel showcasing all available digital content across the conference.
Powered by NeuLion, The Ivy League® Digital Network includes an easy-to-navigate interface, a League-wide network schedule and new interactive features, such as simultaneous four-game viewing, full DVR controls and social media integration. These new features enhance the viewing experience for the expanded range of events and other content offerings, all of which are available on computer, mobile and tablet devices, all without the use of an app.
Packages for the League-wide channel are $119.95 for 12 months, $49.95 for four months and $15.95 for one month and include multi-camera HD coverage of all available home and select away games in football and men’s and women’s basketball and selected home and away games in men’s and women’s ice hockey. Every available Ivy League contest in those sports will be shown on the network.
Packages for the school-specific channels, which feature live and on-demand video and audio content from available home and away contests across a variety of sports, are $89.95 for 12 months, $39.95 for four months, $10.95 for one month and $9.95 for a single day.
On The Inside
“Inside Ivy League Football,” a weekly online radio show dedicated to Ivy League football, returns for its third year for the 2013 season but now has a new home on The Ivy League® Digital Network.
Airing Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and hosted by Princeton radio commentator Dan Loney and Brian Seltzer, “Inside Ivy League Football” takes an in-depth look at all the on-field gridiron action and all the news and notes surrounding football in the Ancient Eight.
Each episode is packed with highlights, statistics and expert analysis in its ‘Around the Ancient Eight’ segment. With its interview segments ‘Program Profile’ and ‘Alumni Spotlight,’ the show visits with players, coaches and administrators who impact Ivy League football, both past and present in exclusive one-on-one conversations.
Fans and alumni can engage with the show via Facebook (facebook.com/InsideIvyLeagueFootball) and Twitter (@insideivyfb, #IvyFootball) and contribute content for its ‘Social Media Mash’ segment with chances to win prize packs courtesy of The Ivy League.
Check IvyLeagueSports.com each week for this season’s episode schedule and guest lineups.
Every episode from the first two seasons are also available on The Ivy League® Digital Network at IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com.