WHAT PRINCETON MUST DO TO DEFEAT DARTMOUTH
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Contain Jared Gerbino. The running quarterback had 202 yards and four touchdowns in Dartmouth’s 54-44 win a year ago in Hanover. That was then—the Tigers were depleted by eight defensive linemen–and this is now: Princeton is yielding only 3.1 per rush. But this is an all-senior Dartmouth offensive line, anchored by Matt Kaskey, an NFL candidate. It is the biggest challenge yet for the deep Tiger D-line to keep Kaskey and cohorts off the tackling-efficient Princeton linebackers and defensive backs.
Throwing quarterback Derek Kyler has been accurate and returning receivers Drew Hunnicutt, Hunter Hagdorn and Drew Estrada hurt the Tigers a year ago. They are among multiple X factors on two teams without an obvious weakness and thus have plenty of talents to step up. Dartmouth doesn’t pass much, but passes well.
2) Block. Big Green front has three 300 pounders, two of which—Jackson Perry and Rocco Di Leo–are NFL candidates. It took three quarters for Princeton’s O-line to win the day at Harvard. It did, and now this takes the challenge up another level. Dartmouth has surrendered just 2.9 yards per rush and has 13.5 tackles for losses. Fullback Cody Smith and tight end Graham Adomitis have been unsung heroes all season. This week they might prove to be the unsung stars of the game.
3) Stay balanced as usual. Princeton has run 299 times, passed it 213, and has 102 first downs rushing to 76 passing. At Hanover last year, Princeton threw 46 times, ran it 22, managed only 2.3 yards per carry, had the ball 10 fewer minutes than Dartmouth, and lost 54-44. Of course, John Lovett was out for the year, making these Tigers a whole different animal, But Charlie Volker, Collin Eaddy and Ryan Quigley also will need room to cut back if Princeton’s offense is going to be, well… Princeton’s offense.
4) Take Some Shots. Dartmouth can get a pass rush with three or four, leaving the linebackers to play the underneath stuff that has made Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson deadly as possession receivers as well as home run threats. Isiah Swann, the Ivy leader in interceptions, will be the best challenge for the 50-50 balls the dynamic duo has faced, but Sean Gleeson will be undeterred. The more the Big Green can be stretched, the more advantageous for the Tigers in the long run. Tiger Bech and Adomitis are Princeton’s X factors.
5) Do the details. Both teams have been remarkably turnover and penalty free. This would be the worst possible time for the Tigers to lapse. Hunter Hagdorn is a big return threat who won’t be taking fair catches like Cornell did last week; the work of Tavish Rice and George Triplett needs to be unreturnable as much as possible.
Nico Ramos made a 37-yarder and was nine-for-nine on PATs last week in the rain, which was reassuring after some glitches, mostly blocking, in previous weeks. Dartmouth PK Connor Davis is only 6-for-13 on field goals. It’s been since 2005 that Princeton made a last-drive field goal to win a game. Just saying. It’s going to be close.