Tigers Missed Way Too Much To Grieve One Missed Opportunity
BY JAY GREENBERG
Cornell shocked Dartmouth, invitation to lament what might have been. Losing 51-14, as the Tigers did Saturday to Yale, they would be flattering themselves by harboring any such regret. They at least had to be in the ballpark to take a swing and miss.
“Yale was playing better than anyone the last three weeks ” said Bob Surace ’90 Sunday morning, a reality he learned watching film last week, not in reviewing his team’s 2nd quarter collapse that opened up a 30-7 Yale lead. The better and more experienced team punished the Tigers for their sins. In practically every chance they had to make a play in that three touchdown, six minute stretch, Princeton failed. Yale seemingly did not allow the Tigers to get away with a single mistake in an unsightly rapid fire of them.
The door remains slightly ajar for a three-way title tie because improving Brown has a long shot of winning a shootout against Dartmouth, and slumping Harvard could summon about 150 years worth of grudges to reenergize itself against Yale. None of that is worth even a crazy dream unless Princeton can get out of its own way Saturday at Franklin Field against Penn and finish the season on an up note becoming of the Tigers’ 7-0 start.
“Look at [Yale’s] flurry of points,” said Surace.
“On the first field goal they convert a 4th and 7. On their first touchdown they convert a 3rd and 10 when we blitz but don’t disrupt the quarterback in a man-to-man situation.”
“They converted a 3rd and 3 deep against man-to-man, when we had good coverage. But on the next touchdown we had very disappointing tackling. And then on the rest of the scores they have conversions on 3rd and 1, a 3rd and 10, and a 4th and 8 when, up until last week, we had been really good on 3rd downs.
“Last week there were a lot of mediums – needing two, three, four and five yards – that [Dartmouth] converted. This week, even more disappointingly, it was a lot of eight, nines and tens. (Defensive Coordinator) Steve Verbit (P05) couldn’t recall a miscommunication in the secondary all year and it happened on the touchdown (Kurt Rawlings’ 47 yarder to Reed Klubnik) that made it 23-7.”
“You play a long enough season, even the best players are going to have those. Our team has been really good at overcoming those things – responses from the other side of the ball serving as pick up. Those 3rd and longs are something we have been so good at and against that team we weren’t.”
“I felt so great about our practices. We were so exact with our responsibilities, then we made a mistake (muffed punt by Jacob Birmelin) and we didn’t move forward with the plays we needed to make after that.”
You Can’t Just Tip Your Hat Dept:
JF Shohfi and Klubnik made some outstanding catches for two touchdowns a piece over and through the blankets the Tiger secondary threw over the Yale receivers in the end zone. But close proximity doesn’t get the job done.
“DB is an extremely hard position to play,” said Surace. “We mixed our coverages between zone and man and the majority of those contested catches were on 3rd and 4th downs.
“They made some tremendous plays on those, but we have to continue to work on breaking those up. On the one right before the half the safety had a chance to push the receiver out of bounds before he could come down and didn’t. A couple times it was something we could do better technically and a couple times we could have timed the jump better or play the ball better.”
Fourteen Points Weren’t Going to Get it Done Anyway:
“Offensively, negative plays hurt us,” said Surace. “The first series we get one (penetration caused a loss of 2 yards on a Collin Eaddy run) and end up having to punt.”
“The second (Eaddy) got stopped on downs on 4th and 1. We score a touchdown and the next series we get 3rd and 1 and we lose a yard (Eaddy at the Yale 37). Next series we have a guy break wide open and he doesn’t finish his route.”
“We took a game that was 10-7 – and with us about to get the ball back – and when we don’t catch the punt, the next thing you know its 30-7, which is hard to fathom, given the situation we had been in.
“If it was one position or one play over and over again, that’s sometimes easier to correct. This was a flurry of everybody making a few mistakes at different times against a team playing as well as anybody the last bunch of weeks. You are not going to overcome them; they are too good of a team.”
Silver Lining Dept:
Yale’s first offensive play was a 35-yard run by Zane Dudek, but thereafter the damage was done by the pass. That one rush represented almost half of Dudek’s total of 72 yards for the day and Alan Lamar had only 28.
“We missed the very first run,” said Surace. “(Anthony) Corbin did a great job at the line of scrimmage and then we missed a couple of tackles.”
“That’s a really good running team and there were a couple. But for the most part we did a really good job in that area. Just would like to have the first one back but that part of our play was solid.”
They Are Coming Dept:
Sophomore Michael Azevedo had Princeton’s only sack and blocked a point after touchdown while freshman linebacker Jaylen Bailey had six tackles.
“We’ve got a group of young D-linemen who are emerging,” said Surace. “Michael is one of them.
“He has worked hard to improve his pass rushing. On a day we struggled to maintain our pass rushing lanes, that was a nice play.
“Bailey and Corbin have worked really hard on special teams; a challenge in itself as a freshman, when you struggle to get on the bus. It’s progress. Jaylen is a really hard worker.”