What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Penn
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Tackle Karekin Brooks. Then, keep tackling him. The workhorse has had 28 carries or more seven times in his career, leading the Ivy League in both 113.5 yards per game and 5 yards per rush. “Very similar to (Yale’s Zane) Dudek,” said Defensive Coordinator Steve Verbit P05. “Good speed, strong, and makes terrific cuts at the line of scrimmage.”
2) Keep Nick Robinson contained. By design or scramble, the quarterback is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Princeton’s lane discipline in the pass rush broke down badly against Yale, allowing a mobile Kurt Rawlings to have a field day during a 2nd quarter nightmare. Burned, the rush became tentative, a betwixt and between struggle that led to six touchdown passes for the game although the secondary, opportunistic through seven games, had some chances to make plays on the ball and didn’t.
3) Run the ball. Stifled early, the Tiger ground game was showing signs of life against Yale before the deluge opened, forcing Princeton, down 30-7 in a flash, to throw in the second half. Penn has allowed 160 yards and two touchdowns rushing per game. Princeton ran for 298 yards in last year’s 42-14 win. Explosive plays have dwindled as the Tigers have played better defenses the last four weeks. The ground game needs to put Princeton in more3rd and shorts so that its precision passing game is in more advantageous positions.
4) Convert. It wasn’t just the offensive line failures to get a push that left Princeton 1 for 4 on 4th downs a week ago and a mediocre 7-for-15 on 3rds. The backs missed some blocks too. It’s not just a matter of will but of execution.
5) Force turnovers. The Tigers had 13 interceptions after seven weeks, none the last two and with only one recovered fumble coming off a botched Dartmouth handoff. Tackles for a loss— 12 last week-suggests there has been little loss in the level of aggression but, with every reason to believe this is going to be a close game, it would help if the defense provides some short fields, like Yale enjoyed a week ago off those 4th down failures.