The Numbers Multiply and Still Don’t Add up
BY JAY GREENBERG
Princeton outgained Yale 527 yards to 513 on Saturday during a game in which the Bulldogs had the ball 41 minutes to the Tigers’ 19. Nope, no typos there; the incongruous numbers speak to the Tigers’ explosive playmaking ability but also to how quickly they put the defense back on the field, which caught up to Princeton in a 35-31 defeat.
It was practically quick strike or nothing.
“We missed a lot of opportunities,” said Bob Surace Sunday morning.
“I look at the first drive; we had an open receiver (Tiger Bech) not on the same page with the route so we miss an open third down. The next time we don’t score, same thing; (Stephen Carlson) was open on third down.
“At the end of the first half we have time to score and had a beautiful play drawn up and don’t get the ball to the open receiver (Jordan Argue). Missed throw. We fumble (Collin Eaddy) to start the second half, then the next series there is a missed pass interference call (against Carlson) and then we drop a pass (Carlson) on third down.
“Yale had only given up 32 points in the last four games. We scored 31. But we didn’t score on seven possessions when we had opportunities and have to kick ourselves on that.
“Our receivers were fighting through holds and interference by an aggressive man-to-man coverage team. So these were not easy catches. But we didn’t catch the ball like we had been.”
After throwing for 454 yards on Saturday, Chad Kanoff is only 145 yards away from the Princeton career passing mark of 3175 by Doug Butler ’85, remarkable considering at mid-season Kanoff needed to raise his average by more than 100 in the remaining games to be able to take a shot.
“And he’s doing it on a limited number of series—only 10 to 12 a game,” said Surace. “Between our blowouts earlier in the year (when Princeton would run the ball and clock during the second halves) and lately with how shorthanded we are on defense, he hasn’t gotten the ball as much as normal.
“So we are scoring points at a high rate but not scoring on enough drives. And, not getting turnovers. So given the lack of field position and the number of drives, what we are doing is unreal.
“There are five really good defensive teams in the league this year: Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Dartmouth, which we haven’t played yet. And if you look at it, the only team that scored against any of them was us.”
Kanoff’s four touchdown passes on Saturday were all impressively thrown, none more so than the 58-yarder to Bech.
“Yale had 33 sacks in the first eight games and probably is averaging 20 pressures a game in addition,” said Surace. “Our line did a great job; they only hurried us a few times, but [the Bech touchdown] was one of them.
“Chad had the guy breathing down his neck and couldn’t have delivered the ball any better (to Bech in full stride just over the reach of the defender).
“All the touchdowns were good throws. When the ball is delivered so precisely and the routes are so well run, it allows the catches and runs that we got on all four scores.”
Overstayed Welcomes Dept:
With a decimated front seven-and an increasing shortage of backups in the secondary, too–volunteers are being accepted and shuttle service is being provided to get the Tigers through the season.
On Saturday, one fumble and an interception–when Kanoff, in the grasp on fourth down, was looking for a miracle–was, against a top defense, a tolerable number of turnovers. But Yale had none, high on the list of reasons it won.
So no excuses for the pass rush being on crutches. The brave and overworked survivors still are being held responsible for getting themselves off the field.
“There are other ways to get turnovers,” said Surace. “We still have to put the hat on the ball, get the second guy in.”
“Yale was able to force a fumble when a guy being driven back on a great block by Graham (Adomitis) still was able to reach around him and swipe the ball.
The defensive mistakes did not include giving up the edge on Zane Dudek’s 47-yard touchdown run down the sideline that jumpstarted a Yale offense that had been forced to punt on its first three possessions. “On that one, both Nico (Bayless) and Jack (Simcox) couldn’t get off blocks because they were restricted,” said Surace. “We then missed a tackle, but it was impossible for either of the those guys to make a play.
“The touchdown before the half (by Jaeden Graham on a 58-yard pass from Kurt Rawlings on a failed T.J. Floyd breakup gamble), we’ve got to keep that to an 18-yard gain. And we have to do a better job getting a pass rush from the interior. Credit a great job of protection by Yale, but we did not push the pocket at all.
“We did a lot of good things. The guys tackled, especially well in the first half. The heartbreaking series, after Jesper’s [third-quarter touchdown catch gave Princeton’s its final lead] was the one [the Bulldogs] chewed up the clock (for 7:48). They ended up missing the field goal, but they had converted a bunch of third-and-mediums and third-and-shorts and we didn’t get the ball back until there was [2:08] to go.
“We are giving up 55 per cent third-and-fourth down conversions way too much. We have to get off the field.”
Players of the Game Dept:
Again, the coaches do not award balls after losses, so we are on our own.
Offense: Tiger Bech, usually overshadowed by Horsted and Carlson, had 175 yards on six catches.
Defense: Tom Johnson made 16 tackles, a ton whether the Tigers were on the field for 40 minutes or 60 minutes.
Special Teams: Bech accumulated 148 return yards despite losing another 40 on a highly arguable fourth-quarter facemask penalty.