Football Friday: Coach Of The Year Finalist Bob Surace Previews Potential Championship Showdown
Being named a finalist for 2016 FCS Coach of the Year for the third time in five years was a nice honor for Princeton head coach Bob Surace, but it would pale in comparison to sharing the joy of a championship locker room for the second time in four years. That’s the ultimate goal this weekend, as it was 10 weeks ago when Surace started the Football Friday video series to discuss the journey of this 2016 Princeton football team.
In the final installment of the Football Friday video series, Surace looks back at the 31-3 win over Yale, including the breakout performance of senior running back AJ Glass, and another standout performance by the Ivy League’s top-ranked defense. He then looks ahead to Saturday’s showdown with reigning Ivy League champion Dartmouth, which enters Saturday’s game having won six straight over Princeton, and he gives some thoughts on a special Class of 2017, which plays its final game Saturday.
You can read the full game preview below.
Nov. 18, 2006.
It was 10 years ago, and it remains the only time in the last quarter century that Princeton held this position and finished on top.
It isn’t easy what Princeton is trying to do Saturday, and that’s what makes it so special.
Current head coach Bob Surace knows the feeling. He was a senior captain on Nov. 18 (lucky date), 1989, when Princeton topped Cornell 21-7 — and received some help from Harvard — to claim a share of the Ivy title. Since then, Princeton has played its finale at home and both lost (1992, still shared the title) and won (2006, shared the title). In 1995, the Tigers played at Dartmouth and tied; that won’t happen this weekend.
This set of Tigers has run the gamut of emotions over the last month, starting with the heartbreaking overtime loss to Harvard four weeks ago. At that point, Princeton hit a fork in the road; how it would handle that adversity would reveal plenty about its character.
56-7. 28-0. 31-3. Character? Got it.
Princeton’s 31-3 win over Yale, which followed a final-minute Penn victory over Harvard, moved the Tigers into a three-way share of first place with one week remaining. Harvard hosts Yale, and Penn travels to Cornell this weekend. If either or both win, they’re Ivy champions.
And it will have no impact on Princeton. If the Tigers win, they will bring an 11th Ivy League championship to Old Nassau.
The team that can impact it — and has made a recent habit of impacting Princeton finales — is Dartmouth. The Big Green won the 2015 Ivy title, and it has a junior quarterback in Jack Heneghan who is averaging nearly 270 passing yards per game. Senior linebacker Folarin Orimolade will be a top candidate for Ivy Defensive Player of the Year honors, and he helped the Big Green extend its win streak over Princeton to six last season. The Big Green record isn’t what Dartmouth hoped, but look closer — four of the team’s five losses have come by the narrowest of margins. They would love nothing more than to win their finale, and to extend their win streak over Princeton to seven.
The Tigers don’t want No. 7. They want No. 11. They earned the right to play one game for it.
The time is here.
|Week 10: Dartmouth (4-5, 1-5 Ivy) at Princeton (7-2, 2-1 Ivy)|
|Date • Time • Location||Nov. 19 • 1:30 pm • Powers Field at Princeton Stadium|
|Watch Live||One World Sports l Ivy League Digital Network|
|Tickets||Princeton Ticket Office|
|Radio||103.3 FM l Listen Live on the TuneIn App|
|Game Coverage||Live Stats l @PUTigers l @PUTigerFootball|
|All-Time Series||Dartmouth leads 48-43-4|
|Last Meeting • Current Streak||DARTMOUTH 17, Princeton 10 (2015) l Dartmouth 6 wins|
|Princeton Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Dartmouth Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Ivy League||Standings l Statistics l Weekly Release|
|Last Week||Princeton 31, YALE 3 l Brown 24, DARTMOUTH 21|
|Next Week||Happy Thanksgiving!|
Lights, Camera, Action
Saturday’s Ivy League showdown on Powers Field will be televised live on One World Sports (check local listings) and streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network. Bill Spaulding and Ken Dunek will call the action for One World Sports. The game can be heard live on WPRB 103.3 FM and the Princeton TuneIn App (Princeton IMG Sports Network), with Cody Chrusciel and Dave Giancola providing the call.
Once And For All
Princeton plays Saturday for the opportunity to clinch at least a share of the 2016 Ivy League championship. The Tigers moved into a three-way tie for first place last weekend; following Penn’s 27-14 win over Harvard Friday night, Princeton posted a 31-3 victory at Yale. All three teams are now 5-1 in Ivy play.
Since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956, Princeton has won 10 league titles, including its most recent title in 2013.
This is only the fourth time in the last 50 years when Princeton has earned this situation — one home game, where victory assures you an Ivy League title, during the final weekend of the season. Princeton won both of the other two — a 27-17 win over Dartmouth on Nov. 18, 2006, a 35-7 win over Dartmouth on Nov. 22, 1969, and a 7-0 win over Cornell on Nov. 19, 1966.
When Princeton won its 2013 Ivy title, Dartmouth handed the Tigers their only Ivy loss of the season, a 28-24 win on a snow-covered Memorial Field that kept Princeton from an outright title.
It Ain’t Easy Beating Green
Since Bob Surace ’90 took over at his alma mater, he has beaten six of the Ivy League teams at least twice. The seventh — Dartmouth — has gone 6-0 over Princeton during that stretch. There have been close games (28-24, 2013; 17-10, 2015; 24-17, 2011) and not-so-close games (31-0, 2010; 41-10, 2014).
Princeton has won six straight in this series twice. Dartmouth has won the last six. Neither has won seven in a row in a rivalry that has extended over 95 games.
Reversal Of Fortunes
Saturday’s matchup is the exact opposite of the 2015 season finale, when Dartmouth jumped back into a three-way share of first place following a Week 9 Penn win over Harvard. The Big Green hosted a Princeton team that was out of contention, but the Tigers didn’t trail until Dartmouth scored a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining to clinch the win and title.
The Defense Never Rests
Princeton leads the Ivy League in scoring defense (15.9), total defense (311.2), and rushing defense (82.2). Last year, Princeton ranked fourth (23.7), eighth (430.2), and seventh (158.6) in the Ivy League in those respective categories.
Nationally, Princeton ranks fourth in the FCS in scoring defense, sixth in rush defense, and 17th in total defense.
Princeton has allowed only 143 points this season, and it is on pace to have the fewest points allowed since the 1997 team allowed only 132. The 1998 Tigers — the first to play inside Princeton Stadium — allowed 162, while the 2006 Tigers allowed 179.
Driven To Succeed
The Princeton defense has now allowed one touchdown (when it led 35-0) and one field goal (on a drive that started on Princeton’s 11 following a turnover) over its last 44 drives in regulation.
Princeton is allowing only 8.8 points per game in Ivy League competition. Only two Ivy League teams this century (Yale, 2008; Penn, 2009) have allowed fewer than 10.0 points per game in Ivy play. The Tigers would need to hold Dartmouth to 16 points or fewer today to become the third.
Princeton has not allowed a single second-half touchdown in a game within 30 points at any point during the Ivy League season, and it has allowed only two field goals during that stretch. In the last two games, the only score Princeton allowed was a Yale field goal, and that came when the Bulldogs took over on the Princeton 10 following an interception.
The last 35 times Princeton has either punted or kicked off, the opposing team has scored once.
The last time Princeton has held three straight opponents under double-digit points was 1975, when the Tigers opened their season by doing it against Rutgers, Columbia, and Cornell.
You Gotta Lovett
Junior quarterback John Lovett rushed for three touchdowns in the 31-3 win at Yale last week, and he needs only one more rushing touchdown to tie Princeton’s single-season record, set in 1993 by Keith Elias ’94.
Lovett currently leads the nation with 18 rushing touchdowns, despite the fact that he has played at least one fewer game than any of the next five closest players. He also leads the nation in overall scoring with 19 touchdowns (he caught a touchdown pass at Cornell), and those don’t factor in his nine passing touchdowns this season.
Lovett has more touchdowns this season than the next two closest Ivy League players combined.
Senior Chad Kanoff moved into eighth place on Princeton’s all-time passing list two weeks ago. He currently has 3,831, and he has a chance of moving into the Top 5 Saturday.
5th – Tommy Wornham, 2008-11 • 4,012 • Kanoff needs 181 to tie
6th – Connor Michelsen, 2011-14 • 3,926 • Kanoff needs 95 to tie
7th – Quinn Epperly, 2011-14 • 3,857 • Kanoff needs 26 to tie
Time, Time, Time Is On Our Side
In the first six years under head coach Bob Surace and the “Fast and Physical” style of football his offense utilized, Princeton averaged fewer than three games per season with more of time of possession than its opponents. This season, the Tigers have done so six times in their first nine games, and they rank second in the league in time of possession. Much of the Tigers’ success here comes on third down efficiency — the offense ranks first (47.0), while the defense ranks second (31.9).
Princeton leads the Ivy League in both forced turnovers (21) and fewest turnovers committed (10). The Tigers’ turnover margin is currently +11; the next closest team in the league is Penn (+3).
The Ring Is The Thing
The only two men who have won an Ivy League football title as both a player and a coach will be coaching on Powers Field today: Bob Surace (Princeton) and Buddy Teevens (Dartmouth).
Coach ‘Em Up
Head coach Bob Surace has been named a finalist for the 2016 STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award for Coach of the Year. This is the third time in the last five years that Surace has been a finalist; he was also among the 2012 and 2013 finalists as well.
Head Of The Class
The Princeton Class of 2017 has won 25 games so far over their careers, which matches the win total of the Class of 2008. A win today would match the four-year total of 26, set last by the Class of 1997.
This senior class also has the chance to do something that no Princeton class has been able to do in 50 years; because freshmen weren’t eligible to play varsity football until 1993, no Tiger player has played on two Ivy championship teams since the 1960s.
Sunday Scores Are Twice As Nice
Seth DeValve ’16, whose fourth-round selection last year was the highest for a Princeton player in the modern era of the NFL Draft, scored his first career NFL touchdown on a 25-yard catch 10 days ago on Thursday Night Football. He is the second Princeton graduate to score a touchdown; Caraun Reid ’14 returned a fumble 61 yards earlier this season for San Diego. It marked the first time two Princeton players have scored an NFL touchdown in the same season since 1924 (Fred DeStefano and Dutch Hendrian, per Andrew Borders).
Reid, DeValve, and Mike Catapano ’13 are each on NFL rosters this season, marking the first time three drafted Princeton players have all been on NFL rosters for the same weekend since the 1980s.
The Crystal Ball
The 149th season of Princeton football will begin Sept. 16 on Powers Field against the University of San Diego. Fans will get plenty of opportunities to get an early look at the Tigers next fall, as they open up with four straight home games (Lafayette, Columbia, Georgetown follow San Diego).
Princeton will also play host to both Cornell (Oct. 28) and Yale (Nov. 11). All dates are tentative; check back with GoPrincetonTigers.com over the summer for complete information.
Thanks for being part of another exciting season. Hopefully you’re treated to the ultimate feel-good ending Saturday.
At 11:00 a.m. on November 19, 2016, prior to Saturday’s game, please join us to hear Professor Paul Frymer, Professor of Politics and Director, Program of Law and Public Affairs. He will discuss “Declaring and Fulfilling American Borders.” Professor Frymer teaches and writes on topics in American law and politics, particularly as they intersect with issues of democratic representation, race and civil rights, and labor and employment. He is a former LAPA fellow (2004-2005), and served two terms as Acting Director (2009-2010 and 2012-2013) before his appointment as Director in 2015. He is the author of two books: Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America (reissued in 2010 with an afterward on President Obama’s election) and Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party (2008), both of which were published by Princeton University Press. He has also either authored or is currently writing about topics ranging from legal understandings of political parties to the racial politics of Hurricane Katrina and affirmative action to the role of law and politics in the historical development of American territorial expansion. 11:00-12:00 a.m. in McDonnell A01