Thursday, June 23, 2011

Talking Football

TigerBlog was on his way to Caldwell Field House with another OAC type, on their way to their daily squash match. These days, start time is delayed, due to the fact that the squash camp kids are hogging the courts until lunchtime.

Anyway, as TB and partner walked to the lockerroom, they were passed by two athletic-looking young men, who were walking out of Jadwin toward Lot 21.

After hearing the interaction between the two and the other OAC-er, football contact Craig Sachson, it was obvious that the two were quarterback Tommy Wornham and wide receiver Isaac Serwanga.

A year ago, Serwanga caught 15 passes and averaged 10.7 yards per reception behind senior receivers Trey Peacock (72 catches, 955 yards, six touchdowns) and Andrew Kerr (51 receptions, 467 yards, five touchdowns).

And Wornham?

Well, as any Princeton football fan knows, Wornham was off to a strong start before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Brown in the first quarter of Week 5. Playing in just four games and one quarter, Wornham threw for 1,104 yards and five touchdowns, completing 107 of 187 passes, or 57.2%.

If you were to double his yardage from last year to 2,208, he would have had the seventh-best single-season total in school history. If you doubled his yardage and added nine, he would have been in sixth.

Unfortunately, that is all speculation at that point, as is TigerBlog's contention that Princeton would not have been 1-9 overall, 0-7 in the Ivy League, with a healthy Wornham all year.

In all, Princeton had eight players throw a pass last year, including four quarterbacks, a running back (whose passer rating was 707.2), two wide receivers and a tight end (whose rating was 614.8).

Wornham said his shoulder was fine and that he couldn't wait to get started for the 2011 season.

For those keeping track of such things, opening day for the 2011 Princeton football season is Sept. 17 at home against Lehigh, or 85 days from today. Princeton opens the season with three straight home games, against Lehigh, Bucknell and Columbia, before heading to the road for five of the final seven games, including three straight at Hampton, Brown and Harvard.

In other words, Princeton has only two home games after October 1.

The chance meeting with Wornham and Serwanga touched off about a 15-minute talk about Princeton football between TB and Sachson, going into all different subjects.

TigerBlog Jr. played in a lacrosse tournament at Lehigh last weekend, and during some of the down time, TB would go into the football stadium to get something to eat or use the bathroom.

Each time he walked in the stadium, he could still see Peacock as he split two Lehigh defensive backs and went 80 yards with a perfectly thrown pass from Wornahm. In fact, TB sent Sachson a text message that basically said: "on line for ice cream; two Lehigh DBs still chasing Peacock."

Princeton lost that game 35-22 and then beat Lafayette the next week, and TB and Sachson talked about how after those two weeks, it seemed like Princeton was on its way to 6-4 if all went well and maybe 4-6 if it didn't.

For awhile, the pre-squash conversation focused on Wornham and his obvious value to the team, in 2011 and beyond as the Tigers bring in three freshmen quarterbacks.

Eventually, the talk went back to 2006 and the Tigers' last Ivy League championship. It focused on Jeff Terrell, and the question was knocked around as to how much of the credit for that championship season (and, extended out, the 16-4 record over two years) belonged to the quarterback himself.

TB tried to recall as many players as he could from the 2006 team, and when he got stuck, Sachson filled in the blanks. TB briefly forgot who the top running back on the team was and then remembered Rob Toresco, who went on to play a season with the men's lacrosse team and who, it was pointed out, was the only player on the 2006 football team with whom TB has a picture of himself in Ireland from the 2008 men's larosse trip.

TigerBlog recalled how, as the PA announcer at Princeton Stadium, he'd been on the phone with TB-Baltimore, who was that day covering men's soccer at Lourie-Love Field, when Toresco flipped the ball back to Terrell in the second overtime against Penn for the dramatic winning touchdown - one that wouldn't have been the winning TD had Pat McGrath not made a tackle on the two-yard line after a botched snap on an extra point attempt after Penn scored on its possession following Princeton's.

TB was trying to describe the fourth-down play to TB-Baltimore when Toresco made his flip back to Terrell, prompting TB to say something like "Princeton scored; call you back in a minute."

The 2006 flashback came during warm-ups, and it would be Sachson who would win the match, five games to three (the usual best-of-nine match), to end TB's recent winning streak.

TB and Sachson will play again today when the squash kids go to lunch.

If TB had to guess, the pre-match conversation will be heavy on the NBA draft - though who knows who might walk by and change all that.

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