What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Columbia
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Tackle. More precise angles to the ball. Relentlessness on the pursuit and forceful wrap-ups all are needed, here, there everywhere, and especially in the red zone. Bucknell was four-for-four there last week, including three touchdowns.
2) Contain Josh Wainright. The All-Ivy receiver already was lost for the season in week three a year ago, when John Lovett ’19 did a passing and running tour de force during a 45-10 Princeton win. Wainwright caught seven balls for 78 yards in Columbia’s 28-24 victory at Princeton two years ago, which would have been a pretty good effort against him had Ronald Smith not caught 10, including a 63-yard game winner. Smith, caught 7 for 62 a year ago without a score but this has resumed being a two-headed monster. This is a good Tiger secondary, reliant on a pass rush like even the best ones, and the Lions, seeing the success Bucknell had with short drops and quick outs, likely will try to similarly minimize the Princeton pressure.
3) Win the turnover battle. The Lions already have thrown four interceptions and lost two fumbles. The Tigers so far have been clean except for two bad snaps, both recovered for losses. Takeaways usually decide close games, which this one figures to be.
4) Play fast as usual. Kevin Davidson got hot after a slow start, opening up Bucknell’s box, and the Tiger running game started to move. Even with the gaudy passing numbers and deception that has hallmarked three Ivy titles in six seasons, the Tiger offenses has always maintained a near-perfect pass-run balance, which will be necessary. Too early to put much stock in statistics, but Columbia’s 251 total yards against per game so far, almost equally stingy against the run and the pass, hints this has a chance to be a defense that can keep the Lions in the Ivy title hunt.
5) Make it a Green Zone. Because the Tigers so far are lighting up the scoreboard as usual from all over, a goalline offense without Lovett, Mr. Automatic, plus two tall receivers unstoppable on the fades, has yet to be tested much. It probably will be for the first time Saturday.