Friday, September 16, 2011

Back To School

Last night was Back To School Night for both TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog.

TigerBlog ended up at LMTB's school, where he went through her daily schedule, heading from one class to the next in abbreviated 10-minute periods to hear the teachers talk about expectations, policies, etc. When it was over, TigerBlog was amazed that he somehow was able to make it through his own school days without an internet from which his parents could monitor every homework assignment, quiz and test score.

Back To School Night is necessary, TB assumes, though he did turn a bunch of disbelieving heads among his fellow parents - who looked at TB like he was from another planet - when he asked the teacher in one class if she'd mentioned all these rules to the kids themselves and when informed that the answer was "yes," replied with "then it's up to them to follow through."

TigerBlog was a bit late getting to BTSN, because he and LMTB were in the middle of what has now become a rather common occurrence - a game of Monopoly. This game, by the way, appeared to turn big when LMTB landed on Atlantic Avenue with three houses on it, only to turn back around the other way when TB ended up Boardwalk with three houses.

When TB pulled up to the school - minus the $1,400 for landing on Boardwalk - he saw the parking lot was essentially jammed. The school borders two others, so the overflow parking took him to the parking lot of one of the other schools.

In fact, TB parked further away from the school than anyone else, except for one car further away. As TB was pulling in, the woman who parked just behind him was getting out her car, and TB could see she was on crutches.

Realizing that it was a fairly long walk back to the school, TB offered a ride to the woman, whom he'd never seen before. She looked into TB's car, thought about it for a second and then said "no thanks," and then started to hobble up the path to the school.

TigerBlog thought it was fairly obvious what was going through her head. Stranger. Car. Bad idea. TB figured she'd probably seen one of the 30 or so episodes of "Criminal Minds" where the supposed Good Samaritan is actually a serial killer.

Anyway, BTSN always comes on the Thursday of this week, which means it's always two days before the start of Princeton football season.

The 143rd football season at Princeton opens tomorrow night at 6 at home against a Top 20 opponent, Lehigh, who comes in for its third game with a record of 1-1 after defeating Monmouth and losing a thrilling 48-41 overtime game against another top FCS team, New Hampshire.

For Princeton, the 142nd season ended at 1-9, 0-7 in the Ivy League and with a possibly unprecedented number of injuries that decimated the team as the year went along.

When TigerBlog thinks about Princeton football heading into 2011, this is what he sees: a lot that could go right or a lot that could go wrong.

And it all revolves around Tommy Wornham, the quarterback who was injured in Week 5 last year and who is now healthy for his senior year. Wornham alone makes Princeton a much better team, even with the loss of receivers Trey Peacock and Andrew Kerr.

The same is true on defense, where Steven Cody went down in Week 1 last year against Lehigh and didn't return. The same is true of Caraun Reid, who also played only against Lehigh last year and then did not come back after getting injured.

Just having those three healthy should make a huge difference.

So too should the fact that it's Year 2 of the coaching staff, so the newness factor is gone and everyone is on the same page as far as not only schemes and game plans but also simply how business is done.

Then there's the other side of the coin, which TB sees as two main issues.

First, there's the schedule. Lehigh is a power. Bucknell is improved. Columbia has been more than a handful the last two years. And after that, there are five away games in seven weeks, including what could be the most daunting three-game road trip in those 143 years - trips to Hampton, Brown and Harvard all in a row.

Then there's the fact that the other league teams all seem to be as good or better than they were last year as well, with returning quarterbacks and studs all over the Ivy rosters.

So what's the bottom line going to be? What would be improvement? What's practical?

If the Tigers go 3-7, they've tripled their win total but still are just 3-7. Is 5-5 possible? A winning record?

Set the goals high and go from there. See what happens along the way.

Hey, it's a 10-week sprint, and if nothing else, it's almost Opening Night, with a perfect weather forecast and healthy home team.

What could be better than that?

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