What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Lafayette
BY JAY GREENBERG
1) Ignore the 0-5. Included in Lafayette’s schedule have been squeaker losses to Penn and Monmouth; the latter a probable FCS playoff team. The only game the Leopards haven’t been in was at Albany (36-7). Lafayette played with William and Mary, which gave FCS power Villanova a game. Since the 2012 turnaround, Tigers never have looked unprepared emotionally for this final non-conference game tucked into the schedule following the league opener (6-1, only loss at Colgate 31-30 in 2014). One wouldn’t expect anything different this time for what is likely to be a competitive contest against a younger than usual team that one of these weeks will begin to prove better than its record shows.
2) Take Care of the Ball. Kevin Davidson has thrown just one interception. Both Princeton fumbles have been off bad snaps but were recovered. Lafayette has lost four fumbles and freshman quarterback Keegan Shoemaker has thrown five interceptions. That’s almost two turnovers a game, not terrible but still its plus-two for Princeton based on the track record, enough to decide a close game.
3) Pressure. Shoemaker, who beat out a two-year starter, has completed 64 percent of his passes and has escapability but nevertheless was sacked five times by Penn, which doesn’t bring the heat like the Tigers did against Columbia.
4) Run It. Tigers will be balanced run-pass as always. After three quarters of incremental ground gains against a tough Columbia front, Princeton finally broke one for Ryan Quigley’s touchdown late in the game. The Tigers will keep pounding against a team that has given up 208 yards rushing per game.
5) Continue to be Special. Lafayette has been hurt by some big returns. Tigers might have their best kicking game of the Surace era and in limited opportunities have been superb in coverage of both punts and kickoffs.