What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Cornell

  • October 27, 2017

BY JAY GREENBERG

1) Stop the run. This is a classic matchup between a Princeton defense that is third in the FCS in rushing defense (71.5 yards per game) and a team that can pound it. In its Ivy wins over Harvard and Brown, the Big Red averaged 254.5 yards on the ground (4.5 per carry). Chris Walker, the Ivy League’s second-leading rusher a year ago, is one of three backs, including Jack Gellatly and Harold Coles, who share the load. Coles has broken a 90-yard touchdown and Walker is also the team’s second leading receiver, a continuing test for a disciplined Princeton linebacking corps and its increasingly wise secondary.

2) Get a pass rush. Even with all the depletion on Princeton’s defensive line, it is not likely that Cornell wants to get away from its bread and butter. But if the Tigers inevitably force Cornell to throw, junior quarterback Dalton Banks is a year older and wiser than he showed during Princeton’s 56-7 rout in 2016 at Ithaca. At Harvard, the Tigers picked up the blitzes after losing Kurt Holuba in the second quarter, but they will of course choose their spots. We will see how much help Princeton’s improving young secondary will need this week with extra pressure.

3) Throw.  Despite little ground success in the first quarter at Harvard, the Tigers and their loaded passing game still did not abandon the pounding, running it 40 times. So balance is a weekly goal, even if containing both Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson is a weekly dilemma for Princeton opponents.  A year ago at Ithaca, Kanoff and John Lovett threw for 392 yards against what was then a young secondary. Kanoff will test how much Cornell has grown up. The Big Red has much less of a chance if it doesn’t win the time of possession, but the Tigers can score so quickly that still wouldn’t mean Cornell would triumph in the game.

4) Win the turnover battle.  This is ever true.  Since committing five first half turnovers in the opening loss at Delaware, Cornell has protected the ball well.

5) Keep those windows spotless. The Tigers have been almost unbelievably clean–19 penalties in six games. Cornell has 48.  Year Five of David Archer’s reign is yielding a contender, pretty much on schedule, so there is little reason to believe this is going to be another rout, like Princeton’s last three games and its last four meetings with Cornell. But the Big Red is going to have to win this game; the Tigers show an increasing, and flattering, propensity not to give them away.

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