WHAT PRINCETON MUST DO TO DEFEAT YALE
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Pressure Griffin O’Connor. Freshman quarterback debuted throwing for four touchdowns last week but that was against winless-in-the-Ivies Brown, no comparison to what he will see from Princeton. Yale offensive line is the best Tigers have faced all year, quite the compliment considering Dartmouth’s skill and size. Thus it stands to reason that Tigers rushing just four guys all day will not get the job done. Princeton’s blitzes have been beautifully executed and almost perfectly timed all year thanks to good plans and even better tackling.
2) Handle the Yale blitz. Bulldogs bring extra guys more often than any team the Tigers have seen so far, a challenge for fullback Cody Smith, tight end Graham Adomitis, and the tailbacks, all defacto members of an excellent Princeton O-line. It will help, of course, to have a quarterback with the escapability of John Lovett.
3) Continue to protect the ball. Yale’s 12 turnovers in eight games is a number you can live with, but Princeton’s five is remarkable. More than ever, this needs to continue as Yale can do more with a short field than any club the Tigers have faced. And of course, the last thing the Bulldogs want is to set up a Princeton team with a 72 percent touchdown rate inside the red zone.
4) Eyes right. This goes back, in part, to Princeton’s blitzing needing to continue to be precise. Yale won last year hitting big plays when badly needed, including a 47-yard run by Zane Dudek within a minute after the Tigers had taken a 14-0 lead and a 59-yard pass play 19 seconds after Princeton had gone up 24-7 just before the half. Killers. Even excusing the absence of a pass rush because of a depleted D-line, Princeton surely let Yale off the hook.
Some of the same Bulldog playmakers are back, some are not but Yale has just as much team speed out of the backfield and from its wideouts as a year ago. The Tigers hit some big plays in 2017 too, but Yale got stops on two fourth quarter drives and survived.
5) Have Fun. Tigers have been superbly focused thought eight wins and rose to the occasion of Harvard and Dartmouth cliffhangers with excellent fourth-quarter execution. These guys have been utterly professional in their preparation, a joy to watch. Of course, the closer they get to doing something historic, the more the pressure can build, but we would be surprised if the Tigers do anything other than embrace the opportunity.