What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Lafayette
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Continue to secure the ball. Turn it over enough times and upsets will happen. The Tigers suffered no fumbles or interceptions in the opener against San Diego and caused one of each, a winning formula any week.
2) Hurry the passer. We have to assume that quarterback Sean O’Malley, a true freshman, is both talented and inexperienced. Six interceptions in his first three games certainly bear out the latter. Even the accuracy of veterans suffers when they are hurried, but they are also more likely to have learned to get rid of the ball, so this is an opportunity for the Tigers’ shuffling deck of pass rushers to cause some havoc. They rotated nine defensive linemen in the muggy opener, which probably helped the pressure pick up in the second half. This one is a night game, but it still is going to be humid.
3) Cover. Returning Lafayette receivers Matt Mrazek and Rocco Palumbo had 81 and 101 yards respectively during Princeton’s 35-31 squeaker in the 2016 opener. Only two returning Tiger DBs were participants in that one–Chance Melancon as a back-up, T.J. Floyd as the nickel–so there are no long memories to catch Princeton’s secondary’s attention. But these guys can hurt you.
4) Run the ball better. Three yards per carry, all the Tigers had last week, is not going to cut it when conference play begins. This is a good opportunity to build some momentum in what should be, health permitting, a good ground attack. Lafayette (0-3) has surrendered 241.3 yards per game on the ground.
5) Assume nothing. Lafayette’s 59-0 loss to Villanova last week could have happened to most of the Ivy or Patriot League teams, the Wildcats being eighth ranked in the FCS poll. The Leopards put up a good fight for a half against Monmouth and Sacred Heart. It may indeed prove to be another long season for a rebuilding program but, in Week Four, Lafayette will be far from ready to concede that.