Monday, October 14, 2019

D Plus

From his perch in the Princeton Stadium press box, TigerBlog could see Jeremiah Tyler in warmups before the game, before he even put on his uniform, and he could tell that Tyler was about to play really well.

And that's exactly what happened.

There was something about the way Tyler was getting ready that really stood out, for some reason. By halftime, the junior linebacker from Detroit would have six tackles, three for loss, as the Princeton defense already showed what kind of night it was going to be.

The final score was Princeton 28, Lafayette 3, as the Tigers improved to 4-0 on the year, heading into a sprint of six Ivy League games in six weeks.

Princeton threw a complete blanket over a good Lafayette offense, one that came into the game with an average of 383 yards per game. How dominant was Princeton's defense? Consider all of the following:

* Lafayette had 162 yards of total offense

* Princeton held Lafayette to 1.5 yards per rush and seven first downs

* Lafayette had the ball 12 times. Only once did the Leopards cross midfield

* Of those 12 drives, they ended with eight punts, two interceptions, once on downs and the one field goal

That's a pretty good night for the Princeton D.

Even better is that Tyler was hardly a one-man wrecking crew. It was more like an 11-man wrecking crew on essentially every play.

No player had more than six tackles, and 13 players had at least two. There were two other players with six tackles, including Joey DeMarco, who had two sacks to go along with the tackles. Delan Stallworth was the other player with six.

There were five players who had at least half a sack - DeMarco, Tyler, James Johnson, Matthew Jester and Daniel Beard. Two other players - Sultaan Shabazz and Jayden Wickware - had interceptions.

Princeton's defense has allowed an average of 260 yards per game, a number that ranks second in the FCS, trailing only Kennesaw State. Princeton is also second in the FCS in scoring defense, allowed 10.8 points per game. TB will get back to the team that is first in a minute.

Keep in mind, this is a defense that lost, among other players, two first-team All-Ivy League linebackers from a year ago. And yet the Tigers have been on wipe out mode all season.

Princeton also comes at you in waves on the defensive side of the ball. It's a unit with a lot of depth, a lot of it young depth.

Up next for this team is a trip to Brown, where the Bears average 414 yards of total offense per game. That game will be the halfway point of the season.

And where do things stand as the halfway point approaches?

Princeton is 4-0, winner of 14 straight. The Tigers are one of three teams in the FCS who are unbeaten, along with top-ranked North Dakota State and Ivy rival Dartmouth.

The Big Green have been very impressive so far this season, especially this past Saturday's 42-10 win over Yale. Princeton and Dartmouth meet in Week 8, Nov. 9, at Yankee Stadium, as part of the 150th anniversary of college football celebration.

Princeton has three games between now and then - the trip to Brown, a home game against Harvard and a trip to Cornell. In other words, there's just way too much to do between now and the game at Yankee Stadium for anyone to even think about a second-straight 7-0 vs. 7-0 matchup featuring Princeton and Dartmouth, who played an epic game last year that Princeton won 14-9.

Harvard, along with Princeton and Dartmouth, is unbeaten in the Ivy League. No league game is going to be easy.

Still, Princeton has looked very sharp so far this year. Maybe the best part is the fact that it's been a total team effort, and each week it's hard to figure out which players to nominate for Ivy Player of the Week because there are endless options each time.

A week ago, the team's official Offensive Player of the Week was offensive tackle Henry Byrd. After the Tigers rushed for 203 yards and had an 11-minute edge in possession time against Lafayette, TigerBlog nominated center Alex Deters.

Princeton has gotten to this point of the season exactly where it wanted to be - unbeaten, with room for improvement and laser focused on the coming challenges.

It's a good place to be 40 percent of the way through your season. 


Friday, October 11, 2019

Football Nostalgia

TigerBlog was talking with Stacie Traube, the longtime assistant in the football office, about something the other day when she brought up the first Princeton freshman to score a touchdown in a varsity game.

The first year of freshman eligibility for football in the Ivy League was 1993, and Princeton had three freshmen who won varsity letters that year: Nick Avallone, Ben Gill and Marc Washington. None scored a touchdown that year.

In fact, it wouldn't be until the 1994 season when a freshman would score a touchdown, and it wouldn't be an offensive player who did so. It was actually linebacker Tim Greene, who blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in Week 3 against Bucknell.

It was actually a huge play, as it came with 2:09 to go in the game and the Tigers behind 7-6 and gave Princeton a 12-7 win in Palmer Stadium. TigerBlog, then in his first go-round as the football contact, remembers calling Greene's hometown newspaper to get them to include the news.

Perhaps that's why he remembered Greene's hometown when Stacie brought him up. It was Cartersville, Ga.

He's less certain how he remembered Greene's actual first name, when Stacie tested him. It's Ronald.

How TB knew that he has no idea, but he answered it immediately.

Greene, by the way, would end his career as a 1996 and 1997 first-team All-Ivy League selection. He was also a captain of the 1997 "Road Warrior" team, the one that played away all season (well, one home game at The College of New Jersey and a neutral site game at Giants Stadium) as Palmer was demolished and Princeton Stadium built.

It's always good to stroll back to the old days. The old days? Does that make TigerBlog old?

He looked at the 1995 media guide yesterday (those are books that used to get printed before the season and couldn't be altered at all; Bruce Wood, longtime Dartmouth chronicler, is the only person TB knows who misses them) and, among other things, saw the page that had pictures of the administration and support staff. Athletic communications was not included on that page.

There were 28 people pictured on the page, of whom three currently still work here: Stacie in the football office, Elysee Nicolas of the grounds crew and ticket manager Stephanie Sutton.

While TB is being nostalgic, he goes back to the 1989 Princeton football season, one in which the Tigers ended a 20-year drought by winning the Ivy League championship. The team's first-team All-Ivy center that year was Bob Surace, who is now its head coach.

TB doesn't quite make it back to 1987, when Surace was a sophomore and John Garrett was a senior wide receiver. John is the older brother of Bushnell Cup winners Jason (1988) and Judd (1989), also teammates of Surace's. Jason, of course, is now the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Those two will set aside their long friendship tonight when Princeton hosts Garrett, who is the head coach of the Lafayette Leopards. Kickoff on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium is at 7; you can see the game on ESPNU if you're not in the Princeton area.

Surace and Garrett have more in common than one varsity season together at Princeton.

Surace was the head coach at Western Connecticut in 2000 and 2001, putting together a fairly impressive 18-3 record in those two seasons. Then one day his phone rang, and it was an invitation to join the Cincinnati Bengals' coaching staff.

The caller? John Garrett.

During their time in Cincinnati, the two were neighbors who commuted to work together. They were close friends with families who were close to each other as well.

And tonight, they're on opposite sidelines. That was also the case two years ago, when Princeton and Lafayette last played (a 38-17 Princeton win in Easton in Garrett's first season with the Leopards).

The game is the final non-league one for both, who finish their season with six straight league games. Lafayette is 0-5, but the Patriot League figures to be a wide-open dogfight.

The Ivy League does as well. There are currently five unbeaten FCS teams, and three are in the Ivy League - Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale. The latter two play tomorrow in Hanover.

Princeton is coming in off a tough 21-10 win over Columbia in the Ivy opener. The first of the remaining league games is next weekend at Brown, which is coached by former Surace offensive coordinator James Perry.

That'll be a different kind of nostalgia.

And that'll also be the halfway point of the season, shockingly enough.

The rest will be here fast - six league games, including one at Yankee Stadium against Dartmouth.

First, though, it's Lafayette tonight at home.

Old friends. It's always good to see them - even if you're coaching against them.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Iron Men

The men's soccer game against Delaware Tuesday night had just started when TigerBlog noticed something fascinating on the Blue Hens' bench.

There was one player on it. Just one - and he was the backup goalkeeper.

In other words, Delaware had only 10 healthy field players for this one, and so they'd all have to go all 90 minutes. And that's what happened.

Of course, even playing against a team with no subs, the Tigers had to go out and win the game, which the Tigers did 3-0. Daniel Diaz Bonilla scored his first career goal to start the evening, and Spencer Fleurant finished it with his first two-goal game.

Yes, Princeton was able to use eight players off the bench and, not surprisingly, outshot Delaware 11-2 in the second half. Does not going to the bench automatically mean a loss though?

Any Princeton men's basketball fan can tell you the answer to that is a resounding "no."

Back in the first round of the 1999 NIT, Princeton found itself playing at home against Georgetown. In that game, Princeton head coach Bill Carmody played the same five players for all 40 minutes each, while Georgetown substituted frequently.

The result?

Princeton 54, Georgetown 47.

TigerBlog sat in the first seat on press row next to the Princeton bench. At one point, it began to dawn on him that the Tigers had not subbed at all in the game, and he was trying to figure out if Carmody and his staff realized it - and if so, was this the plan.

In the end, two of Princeton's five players had four fouls, but there was no sense of subbing for them. Instead, the same five went start to finish.

Today's trivia question - can you name the five players? TigerBlog will list them at the end (hint - one of them had six points and 18 rebounds, and only one Princeton men's basketball player that TB has ever seen could have put up that stat line).

It's the only game TigerBlog can think of where a team, in any sport, never subbed. Maybe he's overlooking something obvious? And he's not counting squash or golf or tennis or a sport where your lineup is simply your lineup.

Anyway, that's what TB thought of when he saw Delaware go with 11 players Tuesday night.

Next up for the men's soccer team is a second-straight road Ivy road trip, this time to Brown. It's a doubleheader with the women, with the women's game at 3:00. 

The women defeated Dartmouth 1-0 last Saturday, evening their Ivy record at 1-1. In that game, Natalie Grossi recorded her 30th career shutout, making her the first Ivy goalkeeper male or female to reach 30 career shutouts.

Whenever you're the only person in Ivy League history to do something, that's a pretty amazing thing to have on your resume.

As for the women's soccer team, there are two currently unbeaten teams in the Ivy League - Brown and Harvard. That obviously makes the game Saturday a big one. Princeton heads to Providence knowing that if it wins out, it wins at least a share of the league championship.

Princeton will be home this weekend in two Ivy League sports.

The field hockey team is home at 1 Saturday against Columbia. The Tigers, who are ranked seventh this week, are 2-0 in the Ivy League, set to take on the 1-1 Lions.

Princeton should be extremely well-rested, at least by its standards, since it hasn't played since Sunday. That's six whole days. The six days prior that? It featured three games, all of which were decided by one goal, including a 5-4 OT win over then-No. 2 Duke.

The women's volleyball team hosts Brown Saturday and then Yale Sunday at 1 on ESPNU. Princeton is currently 2-1 in the league, behind 3-0 unbeatens Cornell and Yale - with a very long way to go in the race.

There are other events this weekend too, on the road though. The men's water polo team plays Iona and St. Francis in Brooklyn Saturday and then at Fordham Sunday. There's a big men's and women's tennis event in Oklahoma.

And of course the football team hosts Lafayette tomorrow at 7 on Powers Field.

By the way, the answer to the trivia question: Brian Earl, Ahmed El-Nokali, Gabe Lewullis, Mason Rocca (he had the 6/18), Chris Young.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Fast Fast

Every now and then, TigerBlog goes back in the archives to see what he's written about certain holidays or events and such and then quotes it back in the current year.

Usually he does this because he remembers what he wrote and figures he's already said exactly what he wants to say in the way he wants to say it. That's because he can almost always remember what he's written through the years.

Yesterday, he read something from two years ago that he didn't remember at all and that made him laugh out loud.

He did a search for "Yom Kippur" to see what he's said about the Jewish Day of Atonement, which is what today is, and he found this from just two years ago:

If you've never tried to fast for 24 hours, it seems more daunting than it really is. Yes, you get hungry. No, it's not overwhelming. The worst part is looking at the time and thinking about how much longer you have to go.
If you really wanted to make it tough to atone for sins, then instead of going 24 hours without eating, it should be having to go 24 hours without using a smartphone or computer or checking email or getting texts or using social media. 


That's actually even more true now than it was then.

TigerBlog and his people will be fasting for 24 hours as part of the High Holy Days, a time of reflection and self-awareness that begins with the Jewish New Year and culminates in the holiest day of the year, a day of repentance.

As he said it seems overwhleming. No food and nothing to drink for 24 hours? Yikes. Who could do that?

In reality, it's not that difficult. The mistake is stuffing yourself before you start, because that won't help in the long run. For the first few hours, you have to fight off the instinct to have something to drink or a snack or something. In the last few hours, you have to not stare at the clock.

Other than that, it's not a big deal.

Of course, there's always that day during the year when circumstance prevents you from eating for awhile and you look up and realize you've gone always an entire day without food and think "why couldn't this have been Yom Kippur?"

So sure, you get a little hungry. And maybe you get a headache. But that's part of the deal.

Hey, it's the single most important ritual in the Jewish religion.

But no electronics for 24 hours? TB hasn't come close to being able to do that for the last, oh, 10 years or so. In fact, he may have to try that one of these days. He won't last until 7 am, he thinks.

His experiences with Princeton Athletics at the holiest day of his people have varied. On a normal year, he will take the day off and often go to services.

In other years, the holiday has corresponded with a game.

He remembers vividly the time he went to services at Brown, in a temple across the street from the football stadium. While there, he saw a Brown player in his football uniform.

There have been other times as well, including once at Lehigh when he was on the radio, fasting, about five feet from a giant tray of chocolate chip cookies. That was a real test of repentance.

For this Yom Kippur, he worked at the men's soccer game against Delaware last night.

He did so with no food and no drink, and it wasn't that difficult.

He did have two laptops and his cell phone.

Good thing they didn't have those 5800 years ago.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Fun Few Days Of Field Hockey

TigerBlog starts out today with a question.

When you order take out, they give you the same credit card receipt as if you sat in the restaurant and ate there. Knowing that, when you get take out, do you leave a tip? If you do, how much?

TB isn't sure about this one. He's never been sure.

Apparently, neither is anyone else. He did a search for "do you leave a tip with takeout" and got a lot of different answers.

He did find one survey that suggested that only 13 percent of people leave a tip when they buy takeout.

His sense is that if you pay cash for something and there's a tip jar near the register, then you're likely to throw a dollar or two into it. This, of course, requires that the people behind the counter see you do it, since you need to feel like they understand that you tipped them or else what was the point? A credit card though? Yeah, he's not sure.

Of course, when it comes to tipping etiquette, nothing really sums the entire situation up quite like THIS.

For the record, in his entire professional career, TigerBlog has never once received a tip for anything he's done.

Well, when he first wrote about Princeton rowing for the newspaper, then-head coach Dan Roock gave him a Princeton rowing hat, which was his first-ever piece of Tiger gear. Does that count as a tip?

If anyone deserves a tip this week, it's the Princeton field hockey team. DISCLAIMER - That's speaking rhetorically (or is it metaphorically?), understanding full well that NCAA rules prevent actual tips from being awarded.

The Tigers had themselves quite a week.

It began with a 1-0 win over No. 11 Delaware Tuesday night. Hannah Davey scored the only goal in that one with 2:09 to go - and that would be the least dramatic of the Tigers' three games.

Next up was an Ivy League game against Yale Friday afternoon. This time, instead of having the first goal with 2:09 left, the first goal came 2:16 in, and it came from the Bulldogs.

So did the second one, which came less than three minutes later. Stunningly, it was 2-0 Yale early in the first quarter.

Princeton came back though, scoring the next three, including the first two of the career of sophomore Claire Donovan, but Yale wouldn't go away, tying it at 3-3 with a little more than six minutes left to force overtime.

If you remember the Princeton-Yale game of two years ago, it was also a game where Yale led only to have Princeton come back and win it late. That time, it was Ryan McCarthy, who scored on a penalty corner with 0:00 on the clock.

This time it was another McCarthy, Ryan's sister Ali, who scored the game-winner, this time in overtime.

Is that enough drama for the week? Nope. It was just betting started for the Tigers.

After the Yale game, Princeton hopped on a bus and drove to North Carolina to take on No. 2 Duke Sunday afternoon. How'd that one go?

Well, Ali McCarthy scored the first goal. Then Duke scored the next four, making it a 4-1 game late in the second quarter.

Did Princeton say "hey, they're ranked second, we got two good wins this week, we're done?"

Nope.

First McCarthy scored again, making it 4-2 at halftime, and then Marykate Neff made it 4-3 in the third.

It stayed that way until, of course, the final minute, because what would a Princeton game be without very late game drama. In fact, there were just 43 seconds left when Clara Roth tied it, forcing the overtime again.

And, again, the Tigers would score the winner, this time from Davey, the hero from Delaware. Princeton 5, Duke 4.

Of Princeton's last 15 games, there have been 14 decided by one goal. That's extraordinary.

Princeton has now played 11 games this year (10 against ranked teams) and had five go to overtime.

The rest of the regular season now features five Ivy games and Boston University. Princeton and Harvard are the two ranked Ivy teams, and they met last year in the regular season (Harvard won) and NCAA quarterfinals (Princeton won). That game is Oct. 26 in Cambridge, which means that both teams have two other Ivy opponents to worry about first.

In Princeton's case, that means Columbia home Saturday and then a trip to Brown and BU the following weekend.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Good To Have A Tough One

Kevin Davidson started to walk away after finishing his postgame interviews Saturday and summed up the entire afternoon perfectly in a few short words.

"It was good to have a tough one," the Princeton senior quarterback said.

He was definitely right about that one. After two weeks of putting up video game numbers and having the starters out in the fourth quarter, Princeton found itself pushed for 60 minutes by a tough Columbia team. The Tiger would win 21-10, stretching their winning streak to 13 straight while taking the Ivy opener on a day that was anything but easy.

And that was the best sign.

How would Princeton respond to its first serious test? The answer turned out to be "very well."

Columbia brought to Princeton Stadium 1) a defense that was top five in the FCS in a bunch of categories, 2) Ronald Smith, who broke the Tigers hearts on the same field two years earlier with a 63-yard TD reception with 1:12 left for a 28-24 win and 3) an attitude that the Lions deserved a shot at the Ivy title as much as anyone.

Add to that the fact that the Tigers, whose previous two first halves ended by a combined 70-21, found themselves behind at the break 10-7 and you can see that a win was hardly preordained.

One issue that Princeton had in the first half was that time of possession was completely lopsided, as Columbia had the ball 20 minutes to Princeton's 10. Sometimes that's not that big a deal, when, say, one team scores really quickly.

Sometimes it is a big deal. Princeton's offense never really got into great rhythm in the first half, largely because it hardly ever had the ball.

It all changed in the second half. Possession time was even. Princeton put together three long drives - two that ended in touchdowns and a third which essentially killed the second half of the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

The defense in those final 30 minutes allowed no points. The closest Columbia got to scoring was on a field goal attempt that would have made it a 14-13 game early in the fourth, but Joey DeMarco got a hand on the kick, and that was that.

Princeton's defense held Columbia to 206 total yards and 1.1 yards per rush. There were four sacks. Columbia's two quarterbacks combined for a great completion percentage by hitting on 24 of 30 passes (80 percent), but the fact that it added up to just 166 yards indicates that the Tigers tackled well.

There were several players who seemed to be everywhere, including linebackers James Johnson (11 tackles) and Jeremiah Tyler (10 tackles, 3.5 for loss, one sack) and defensive lineman Samuel Wright (2.5 sacks, seven tackles).

As for the offense, Davidson came into the game having completed 81 percent of his passes. Against Columbia, he "only" completed 63 percent.

He looked so good in the first two games that his numbers against Columbia seemed a bit tame: 22 for 35 for 271 yards and a TD, with his first interception of the season.

You want a little context on those 271 passing yards? You know who never threw for at least 271 yards against an Ivy League opponent? John Lovett.

Yes. That's not exactly apples to apples, since Lovett did so many other things to perfection and brought with him more intangibles than any Princeton football player TigerBlog has seen.

But still. It does tell you a bit about how high Davidson has set the standard for himself and that his performance was still first-rate. He is poised, moves well outside the pocket and has an incredible arm - all qualities he displayed in the second half yesterday.

He calmly led his team on those long drives in the second half, and he made the biggest play of the day when he dropped a perfect pass in to Dylan Classi on a 3rd and 10 from the Princeton 31 on the drive after the blocked field goal.

Had he and Classi not made that play,  Columbia would have the ball and a chance to drive the other way for the lead. Instead, it took just four more plays to get in the end zone for the score that pretty much put the game away.

That touchdown, by the way, came on a 31-yard run from Ryan Quigley. He and Collin Eaddy continue to be a great complement to each other, and the two running backs accounted for all three Tiger scores against Columbia.

Next up is Lafayette, Friday night at 7 at home and on ESPNU, in the final non-league game of the year. Then it's six Ivy games in a six weeks.

Princeton, as TB pointed out last week, has won 12 Ivy titles and has won the league opener in all 12 of them. That was what was on the line Saturday afternoon.

Get a win and take that first step.

And that's exactly what Princeton did.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Michael Sowers, And An Ivy Opener In Football

If you were on goprincetontigers.com yesterday, perhaps you noticed TigerBlog's nearly 4,000 word feature on Sowers. If you didn't, you can read it HERE.

Of everything that TB has done here at Princeton and even with the changing world of how people consume information now (often in 280 characters or less), his favorite is still writing feature stories.

HERE'S another one, on football offensive linemen Brent Holder and Alex Deters. 

He was planning on writing one on Sowers in the spring before Inside Lacrosse approached him about the idea of doing one as fall ball is beginning. TB jumped at the chance.

The result is a story that he thinks pretty much tells you who Sowers is. As TB says in the story, he's the single most polite Princeton athlete he's ever met and he's the best lacrosse player he's ever seen.

That second statement is pretty bold, considering, he's seen, among others, Tom Schreiber, Jesse Hubbard, Kevin Lowe, Ryan Boyle, Scott Bacigalupo, David Morrow and Zack Currier. That group is either already in the Hall of Fame, about to be inducted or pretty much a lock to get there one day.

One thing TB didn't include in the story was that Sowers enters his senior year fifth in Division I history in points per game (6.07), which is the best total in 38 years, and that he already ranks 20th in Division I history in career assists. That's with a full season to go.

Should he match his point total of last year, he'd move up to seventh all-time.

Here's something else TB had to cut from the story: A few years ago, TigerBlog Jr. decided he wanted to put together a team to play in the Philadelphia summer box lacrosse league, and so he did. 

Then, the next year, he decided he wanted to win the league, so he went out and recruited Michael Sowers to be on his team. Box lacrosse is a very, very physical version of the sport.

This is what TigerBlog had to say to his son when he told him the news that Sowers was going to play with him, knowing that his son had already had four shoulder dislocations in his lacrosse career: "If you get hurt, I'm going to be mad. If Sowers gets hurt, I'm going to be really, really mad."

Fortunately, neither would end up getting hurt. And, along with Princeton's George Baughan, they would in fact win the championship that summer.

Hey, like he said, it was getting up around 4,000 words.

Speaking of TBJ, he used to play Pop Warner football before middle school, and he played on a team in fifth and sixth grade that include a kid named Dylan De Iuliis. That "kid" went on to become a linebacker on Colgate's NCAA quarterfinal team last year.

When TBJ's Pop Warner team would practice, TB clearly remembers Dylan's younger brother, who would have been in second or third grade at the time. He'd stand on the fringes of practices, hoping the ball would roll to him or something.

You could tell he wanted to be a football player.

These days, Dawson De Iuliis is a Princeton sophomore. He's also a defensive back and key member of the Tiger special teams.

Dawson's father, Dino, was one of the Pop Warner coaches back then. He also played football at Middle Tennessee State.

TB hadn't seen him in years before he saw him before the Bucknell game last week, along with his wife Kathy and Dylan. It was great to see them and catch up.

Next up for Dawson and his teammates is tomorrow's home game against Columbia, which kicks off tomorrow at 1 on Powers Field. It's the Ivy League opener for both.

Princeton has won 12 Ivy League titles. It has won its Ivy opener in all 12 of those seasons - and only three times this century has a team lost its Ivy opener and won at least a share of the title, with two of those a co-championship with the team it lost to in that first game.

Princeton is 2-0, averaging an FCS-best 52.5 points per game, with a quarterback (Kevin Davidson) who is completing 81 percent of his passes and four receivers who have combined for 10 TD receptions.

Columbia on the other hand has one of the best defenses in the FCS, a top five statistical defense. Columbia also has a great set of wide receivers with Ronald Smith and Josh Wainwright.

On top of that, Columbia is in the year after the year with all of the injuries. The Lions had a ton of injuries in 2018 and still went 6-4.

Like Princeton, Columbia is thinking about playing for an Ivy League championship next month.

There's no chance that you were at the first Princeton-Columbia game, since it was back in 1874. You might have been at the last Princeton-Columbia game in Princeton, two years ago, when the Lions stunned the Tigers on a 63-yard touchdown catch by Smith with 1:12 to play.

As TB said, kickoff is at 1. It should be a pretty good matchup.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Lot Of Teams Play This Weekend; Will Mike Ford?

If you are one of the people who emailed TigerBlog yesterday to let him know whether or not your senior thesis had a colon in it, well, he appreciates that you had fun with it like he did.

He got 11 emails yesterday from Princeton alums with their thesis titles. Of those 11, there were seven who had colons in them.

That's way more than 43 percent.

If you didn't read yesterday, then 1) you're wondering what in the world he's talking about and 2) why didn't you?

You can click HERE to see what he was talking about.

By the way, TB said yesterday he likes semicolons better than colons, so he decided to work one into today's headline. 

TB enjoyed that whole thing so much that he included it on a list of trivia questions that Mollie Marcoux Samaan asked him to put together for today's monthly staff meeting.

Another one involved Mike Ford, the Princeton alum who spent this season with the New York Yankees. Ford, the only player ever to be the Ivy League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, had a very productive rookie season.

In fact, Ford had 143 at-bats for the Yankees this year. How many home runs did he hit?

If you guessed 12, you'd be correct. That's a lot of home runs in a short amount of at-bats.

Ford actually hit .259 and scored 30 runs. In the world of baseball analytics, the 12 home runs and 30 runs scored matter way more than the 28 strikeouts. His .909 OPS would be considered pretty much excellent.

The Yankees begin the playoffs tomorrow night against the Twins in the American League Division Series. Ford probably won't know if he's on the 25-man roster for the series until the deadline tomorrow morning, but TigerBlog is hoping he will be.

He'd certainly include him. He's a lefty with power in Yankee Stadium. That bat would come in handy at some point in the series, TB would think.

Plus, the Yankees have been dealing with injuries all season. It was those injuries that gave Ford his chance in the first place, and he made the most of it.

He certainly appears to have a future, either in the Bronx or somewhere else.

So that's one of the things that TB wanted to share with you today.

What else does he have for you on your Thursday?

While the Yankees head into the playoffs, it'll be a typically busy early October weekend for Princeton Athletics.

As far as Ivy League events go, there are three teams who are playing at home this weekend in league matchups.

The football team is home against Columbia Saturday at 1 in a matchup of one of the top offenses in the country (Princeton's) and one of the top defenses in the country (Columbia). TB will have more on that one tomorrow.

In the meantime, he refers you to THIS STORY he wrote about senior offensive linemen Brent Holder and Alex Deters and what it's like to be on the O line when your quarterback (Kevin Davidson) and receiver (Andrew Griffin) are setting Ivy League records.

As for the rest of the fall teams, the women's volleyball team, who defeated Penn last weekend in its Ivy opener, hosts Columbia tomorrow night and then Cornell Saturday.

The field hockey team is home tomorrow at 5 against Yale before heading to Duke to take on the second-ranked Blue Devils Sunday. This was after a 1-0 win over yet another nationally ranked team, Delaware, Tuesday night.

If you're going to be in the Hanover, N.H., area, there's a soccer doubleheader Saturday afternoon between Princeton and Dartmouth. The women's game is at 1, followed at 4 by the men.

The Princeton women dropped their league opener to Yale last weekend, but there's a long way to go in a league where very, very few teams go unbeaten.

As for the men, this is the Ivy opener. They come in with a four-game winning streak, which includes a 6-3 win over St. Joe's Tuesday night. That's a lot of goals. In fact, that's the most Princeton has scored in a game since a 7-3 win over Seton Hall in 2011.

There will also be home men's water polo, against Harvard Saturday at noon and then Sunday against Brown (10 am) and MIT (3).

The women's golf team, women's tennis team, women's cross country team and men's cross country team are also playing away this weekend.

The complete schedule is HERE.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Wednesday TigerBlog: Thoughts On A Story TB's Friend Todd Sent Him.

Wednesday TigerBlog: Thoughts On A Story TB's Friend Todd Sent Him.

That's a good title, no?

It was yesterday morning when TigerBlog got a text from his friend Todd. The story was from a website called "towardsdatascience.com," and it was about how nearly half of Princeton's senior thesis all-time have a colon in the title.

The story even used a term for this that may or not be made up: titular colonicity. You can insert whatever punchline you wish to insert.

Seriously, here's what it said:
Princeton’s thesis database lists nearly seventy thousand titles, dating from when first establishing the senior thesis in 1926 to the class of seniors who graduated in June. We can use this huge dataset to discover how titular colonicity (yes, there’s actually a term for it) got its start.

The basic premise of the story is that someone or a handful of someones took the time to analyze the Princeton senior thesis database to to see what percentage of the time the author used a colon in the title. This is also broken down by majors.

HERE is the story. It fascinated TB, for some reason.

At first TB thought it was a gag, some sort of parody of a science website. Here were the two main headlines yesterday afternoon:

"Conversational Sentiment Analysis ... Methods for determining sentiment towards named entities" and "Top 5 Mistakes With Statistics In A/B Testing ... A/B tests (a.k.a. online controlled experiments) are widely used to estimate the effect of proposed changes to websites and mobile apps"

Seems on the level.

According to the story, 43 percent of Princeton's all-time senior theses - and there have been 67,359 of them - have had a colon in the title. That's a lot.

TigerBlog has never liked using colons. He much prefers semi-colons, but there's probably not a lot of those in titles.

TB has always loved the senior thesis database, which you can find HERE.

Whose thesis do you want to know about? Bill Bradley?

"On That Record I Stand" – Harry S. Truman's Fight For The Senatorship In 1940. Wait. That's a long dash, not a colon.

Bradley and Truman were both from Missouri. Between them, they'd serve five terms in the U.S. Senate, which is something Bradley couldn't have know when he was figuring out what to write about in 1965.

It would be 13 years between when Bradley would graduate from Princeton to when he was elected to the first of his three terms in the Senate. In between, he'd win two NBA championships with the Knicks, who haven't won one since.

Who else?

How about Rachael DeCecco, who was Rachael Becker when she won the 2003 Tewaaraton Award and led Princeton to its second straight NCAA women's lacrosse championship (and third overall). She's also two weeks away from getting into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Her thesis?

Depression and the Elderly: A Function of Loss. She's one of those colon people.

When TB went to check on Rachael Becker, he also saw Max Becker, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Clarkson in the 2018 ECAC men's hockey championship game, sending the Tigers to the NCAA tournament.

His was this: "Bitcoin: Financial Instrument or Speculative Asset? An Analysis of Bitcoin in the Foreign exchange Market."

You're seeing the trend. 

She's one of three Princeton alums who are going to be inducted in Baltimore on Oct. 18. The other two are Ryan Boyle and Matt Striebel. Colons? Hmmm.

Here's Boyle's: "An Investigation of Meditation: The Influence of Meditation on Stress, Risk-Taking, Creating Thinking, Framing Effects, and Locus of Control."

Here's Striebel's: "Green Lights and Other Forms of Earthly Transcendence: "Anguished Yearning" and the American Dream."

That's a lot of colons for the Hall of Fame.

Surely some random Princeton athlete must not have had a colon.

Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan: "The Social Construction of Sport and Gender: A History of Women in Golf, 1890-1955."

Colon.

Men's soccer head coach Jim Barlow: "Deepening the Chasms: A History of Race Relations in the One Square Mile Paradise of Hightstown, New Jersey."

Colon.

Wait. He finally found one.

Caroline Lind, like Bradley an Olympic gold medalist. Actually Lind won two gold medals, in rowing.

Her title?

"Flow In Rowing."

No colons.

That was fun. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Players Of The Week

So say part of your job is to decide which players to nominate for player of the week each week.

And say that you have two players whose weeks were 1) record-setting and 2) completely intertwined in essentially every way. And the rules said you couldn't nominate both.

Then what would you do?

Well, that's where TigerBlog was yesterday.

You had Kevin Davidson, who threw an Ivy League-record seven touchdown passes against Bucknell Saturday. And you had Andrew Griffin, who tied the Ivy League record by catching four of them.

There was more, too. Davidson was 29 for 37 for 381 yards and no interceptions. Griffin caught nine passes for 200 yards. Both were big-time, dominant performances.

On top of that, neither would have set any of those records without the other. Griffin had to get open and catch the ball, but doing so without having Davidson deliver the ball would have been worthless. To TB, they were both equally impressive.

So now what?

In the end, TigerBlog nominated Davidson for Ivy Player of the Week and then successfully advocated with his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues to have Griffin be the goprincetontigers.com Athlete of the Week.

James Stagg, a freshman defensive lineman with a very bright future, was the Ivy Rookie of the Week after a sack and an interception that he returned to the two.

Griffin was so good against Bucknell that it almost became an oversight that Andrei Iosivas, who didn't catch a pass at all last year as a freshman, caught two more touchdown passes, giving him back-to-back two touchdown games to start his sophomore year.

Or that Princeton's wide receivers have caught 10 touchdown passes in two weeks, which leaves them - Griffin, Iosivas, Dylan Classi and Jacob Birmelin - more than halfway to the 18 that current NFL players Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted caught a year ago. Griffin, by the way, has already matched the five that Carlson had a year ago - and Carlson is third all-time at Princeton in career touchdown receptions.

The Tigers open their Ivy League season Saturday at home against Columbia (kickoff at 1). TB will have more on that later in the week.

While the subject is Players of the Week, Princeton also had the Ivy League field hockey Player of the Week, junior Clara Roth, who won for the second time this year.

Roth had two goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 4 Maryland and then came back with two goals and two assists in a 4-0 win over Dartmouth in the Ivy opener in Hanover Saturday.

Princeton has scored 20 goals this season in eight games (seven against ranked teams), and Roth has either scored (five) or assisted (seven) on 12 of them.

When TB looked up where Roth was from, he learned that she's from a town in Germany called Schweitzingen, which sits about six miles southwest of Heidelberg and dates back to the eighth century. He considered logging on to Wikipedia to add Roth to the town's list of notable people.

And why not? She deserves to be listed.

She was the 2018 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year after leading the team in goals (13) and points (34) while the season ended in the Final Four. She was first-team All-Mid Atlantic Region and third-team All-America, after earning honorable mention All-Ivy and second-team all-region as a freshman.

She's currently tied for 11th in career assists at Princeton, and she's on the cusp of being listed in all-time leaders in goals and points.  

Roth and the Tigers play another ranked opponent tonight, as they travel to No. 12 Delaware. Like Princeton, Delaware has won an NCAA field hockey national championship this decade.

It's also the start of a very busy week for Princeton, who hosts Yale Friday at 5 in the second Ivy game. Speaking of second, that game will be followed by a trip Sunday to second-ranked Duke.

After that, it's a run of five Ivy opponents and unranked Boston University for the rest of the regular season.

And hey, TB just realized it's October 1st. That means, among other things, that the fall season is going to reach its peak, right around the time that the foliage does as well.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Davidson To Griffin

Princeton had the ball, third-and-10, late first quarter at the Bucknell 44 Saturday afternoon.

The Bison, 0-3 on the year coming in, were ahead 7-0 and playing with confidence. Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson took the snap, rolled right and looked like he had room to run. Instead, he threw for Jacob Birmelin in the end zone, incomplete.

Even had the pass been complete, it wouldn't have counted, because Davidson was clearly beyond the line of scrimmage when he let it go. Penalty. Loss of down.

From his spot in the radio booth, TigerBlog thought to himself - "This is good. It's a chance to see how Davidson will respond when things hadn't been going easily."

Want to know how he responded?

His next pass went to Andrei Iosivas for 29 yards and a touchdown after the defense got him the ball back. For the rest of the first half, he went 13 for 15 for 166 yards, with three more touchdowns mixed in.

He even had a 10-yard run on a third-and-seven to keep a touchdown drive alive in the second quarter.

By the time his day was over, Davidson had put away the pesky Bison with a 29 for 37, 381-yard performance. Oh, and he finished with seven passing touchdowns.

Those seven touchdowns weren't just a new Princeton record. They were an Ivy League record.

They also got Davidson a game ball on ESPN on its college football wrap up show.

So, yeah, he seemed to respond well. And in doing so, he showed you a lot about himself.

Davidson turned a close game on the road into a 56-23 Princeton win. Davidson didn't play in the final 11 minutes of the game, and all 62 Princeton players who traveled got in the game.

And, to all the people who reached out to TigerBlog yesterday to find out how participation works, the in-game stat program records starters and anyone who gets a statistic in the game. Any player who doesn't get a stat in the game needs to added to the participation list, but for an away game, where TB is on the radio and doing social media in-game, he waits until it's over to confirm with the coaches as to who played and who didn't. When he got the list from the coaches yesterday, he added those players to the stats for the game.

So just to repeat, the correct answer is that all 62 Princeton players in uniform got in the game. Who knew the subject of participation could be so interesting to so many people?

Meanwhile, Davidson wasn't the only Princeton player who had a record-setting day.

Senior wide receiver Andrew Griffin caught four of Davidson's touchdown passes, tying the Princeton and Ivy records for TD receptions in a game. If you go back as far as TB with Princeton football, you remember Michael Lerch's four TD game at Brown in 1991, a game in which he also had 370 receiving yards.

Griffin didn't quite get to 370, but he did catch nine passes for 200 yards to go with the four touchdowns. His TD receptions were from 57, 27, 59 and 14 yards, and he became the sixth player in program history to reach 200 receiving yards in a game.

In his three career starts, Davidson's numbers are otherworldly: 91 for 118 for 1,362 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Through two games, he leads the FCS in passing efficiency rating and completion percentage. Passing efficiency rating is a complex formula, but Davidson has a rating of 236.8. The next-best total is 194.9, of Trey Lance of North Dakota State. That's a 41.9 point lead over the second-place quarterback.

If you go 41.9 points down from 194.9, you have 153.0. That would put you in 21st place.

In other words, the distance from first to second is also the distance from second to 21st. That's a big gap.

It's even larger in completion percentage. Davidson has completed 81 percent of his throws; the distance from first to second is the same as the distance from second to 26th.

Does that make sense? You get the point.

As for Griffin, he's gone from three receptions for 31 yards and no touchdowns in his career (and playing on special teams), to 11 catches for 251 yards and five touchdowns in two games. He is averaging 22.8 yards per catch.

Against Bucknell, he was unstoppable. He'd get open, Davidson would find him and he wouldn't quit until he reached the end zone.

It's been a great two weeks for them. It's even greater when you consider that they walked into the two positions where Princeton had its greatest question marks after graduation last year.

Now it gets a bit more serious.

Princeton, winner of 12 straight, opens its Ivy League season Saturday at home at 1 against Columbia. The Lions are looking to be a major factor in the Ivy race this year, just like Princeton.

TigerBlog has a lot of respect for all different kinds of Princeton athletes, but among those who earn his biggest respect are seniors who have not had a great deal of playing time in their first three years but remain loyal parts of the program and end up making the most of their one year to be a starter.

Davidson (one career start prior to this year) and Griffin (no career starts before this year) personify that group.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Road Trip

Keith Elias carried the ball 736 times for the Princeton football team.

No Princeton player has ever run it more.

For every one of those that he saw - which is a lot of them - TigerBlog thought Elias was going to break it the distance. TB has never been a fan of the term "taking it to the house;" he wonders if anyone ever said it back in the early ’90s, when Elias was playing.

For that matter, what would have been the reaction had somebody randomly blurted that out as Elias was in fact running for one of his 49 career touchdowns? They would have gotten a weird look.

They also would have gotten a weird look had they said words like "blog," "smartphone" and "tweet" and if they used "text" as a verb. The world has changed quickly.

In the meantime, TB will get to the point. Of those 736 carries, he's wondering how many times Elias was tackled for a loss.

He's not 100 percent sure there's a way to check, but he'll try to look it up at some point.

He started wondering about that when he was looking up the last time current running back Collin Eaddy was tackled for a loss. In fact, Eaddy, a junior, has gone 107 straight carries without being stopped for negative yardage.

Is that a record? How does that compare?

No idea. It seems pretty impressive though, no?

Another impressive streak is the one by Tavish Rice, the senior placekicker. Rice started the 2019 season by having a touchback on all eight of his kickoff attempts against Butler. This came after he had touchbacks on his last two against Penn last year, in a game in which he went 6 for 7.

As an aside, every time TB types "touchback," it comes out "touchdown," because he's so used to typing that word instead, so he has to go back and change it.

For his junior year, Rice kicked off 76 times, with 50 touchbacks. TB watched him in practice last week, and the ball was just rocketing off his foot. 

Eaddy and Rice will put their streaks on the line tomorrow for the second game of the year and first road trip, as the Tigers head to Bucknell. The teams meet for the first time since 2011, which is the only meeting the teams have had between back-to-back games in 1995 and 1996 and the meeting tomorrow.

Kickoff in Lewisburg is 3:30.

You would think that two schools that are not that far apart and who have been playing football for a long time would have played more than 16 times, but 16 games are the extent of the history between Princeton and Bucknell. The teams first met in 1903, and seven of the 16 meetings were held by the United States got involved in World War I.

The Tigers are 1-0 on the year, having defeated Butler 49-7 in Week 1, last week on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Bucknell is 0-3, but the Bison have had a very challenging schedule to date - the losses are to FBS member Temple, defending NEC co-champ Sacred Heart and No. 8 Villanova.

Eaddy and Rice aren't the only ones who have streaks going. In fact, Princeton itself has a good one.

The team as a whole has won 11 straight games, which is the longest the program has had since a 17-game run in 1964 and 1965. The school record, if you're wondering, is 24 straight, from 1949-52, encompassing back-to-back perfect seasons in Dick Kazmaier's junior and senior years.

Princeton looked really good against Butler, especially considering it was the first game of the year. The key is to continue to progress and work out any issues before Week 3, which would be Week 1 of the Ivy League season, as Columbia will be on Powers Field next Saturday at 1.

The Ivy League looks pretty good from the Week 1 results. Princeton is the defending champ. Yale is the preseason favorite. Dartmouth was second last year and in the preseason poll.

At this point, though, it wouldn't be shocking to see any team beat any other team. There are two Ivy League games this weekend: Brown at Harvard tonight and Cornell at Yale tomorrow.

As for Princeton, it's what Week 2 usually is: Work out the kinks with a second-straight non-league opponent before the league season begins.

This time, it's against someone the Tigers haven't seen in awhile.

It should be fun.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ivy Openers

What is the record for most Ivy League championships won by one class?

The answer is 51, by the Princeton Classes of 2001 and 2002.

Does that make those two classes the best in Ivy League history? Presumably if you asked a member of those classes what they thought, they'd give you a quick "duh, obviously."

Is that the best metric? Well, the Classes of 2012 and 2013 won 49 each. They should at least be in the conversation.

Again, though, is total Ivy titles won the best definition? It might be, the more TigerBlog thinks about it. The downside is that you have to figure out an objective way to measure the contributions of the athletes only from those particular classes and see how directly they impacted those championships, something that might not be measurable.

TigerBlog has always said that the measure of an extraordinary year is one where you reach double figures in Ivy titles. Princeton has done that five years in a row.

If you go back before that, there was one year under 10 and then five more in a row in double figures, which means 10 of the last 11 academic years have seen Princeton win at least 10 Ivy titles.

That's fairly amazing when you consider that Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn and Yale have never done it and that Harvard has done it 10 times in its history. All told Princeton has done so 26 times.

If you've been a loyal reader, you know exactly what movie clip all of this conjures up for TigerBlog. It's THIS one.

In other words, none of this is Princeton's right, and none of this should ever be taken for granted. Princeton's coaches and athletes, backed by the "Team Around The Team," work really hard to make that success a reality.

So far this year, all eight Ivy League schools are exactly even in every Ivy League race. That changes really soon.

In fact, the first Ivy League events of the 2019-20 academic year come up this weekend.

There are three Princeton teams who will be playing their Ivy League openers. All three were voted as the preseason favorite in the Ivy League, so maybe they should just be awarded the championship and leave it at that?

Just kidding.

The first Ivy opener will see the women's volleyball team host Penn tomorrow night at 7 at Dillon Gym.

There are four Ivy women's volleyball teams who are either 7-2 or 8-2 and then four others who are below .500. Penn, at 7-2, is in the first group. Princeton, at 4-5, is in the second.

What does that mean? Nothing. It's about how the schedule prepares you for the league season, not about the wins and losses.

There are two other Ivy openers Saturday, one in field hockey at Dartmouth (at noon) and the other in women's soccer at Princeton.

The field hockey team has played just a brutal schedule, which is how the Tigers like it.

Princeton is 3-4 on the season, with all seven games against ranked teams, including three of the top five teams. Princeton has also played seven one-goal games.

This is a team that has been tested and is used to having to play at a level where it can compete with the best.

The women's soccer team is home against Yale Saturday at 4. Princeton is 3-3-2, with its most recent outing a 1-0 win over William & Mary. Yale is 6-2, and the teams have not played any common opponents.

There are other events this weekend as well. The whole schedule is HERE.

The current Princeton senior class, by the way, has won 34 Ivy titles in three years - 11 and 11 as freshmen and sophomores and then 12 last year. That leaves them 17 off tying the record, and the record for one year is 15, back in 2010-11.

That's always a good goal to shoot for - as long as you keep in mind what Patton was saying on his walk.

Right now, everyone in every Ivy sport is 0-0.

TigerBlog has a chart each year of Ivy titles and where every team has placed. He needs to reset it for 2019-20 before this weekend.

It's the start of the race for Ivy championships in 33 different sports. It's always a fascinating run. 



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Remembering The Rain

So Monday was Bruce Springsteen's 70th birthday.

Seventy? And still rocking like he does?

In honor of the occasion, the people at E Street Radio had a voting for the top 100 Springsteen songs. The only rule was that they had to be off of a studio album, as opposed to a live cover, which left off, among others, "Jersey Girl," "Pretty Flamingo" and "Jole Blon," all of which TB would have had in his top 20.

The countdown was played Monday, and TB caught much of it. He heard the last eight songs while he was out on his bike, and he thinks the voting was pretty accurate.

The top three were, in his own mind, not debatable, and that's how it would play out: No. 1 was "Thunder Road," No. 2 was "Born To Run" and No. 3 was "Jungleland." TB thought it might go "Born To Run" and then "Thunder Road," but those were the correct three.

If you want to see the complete list, you can click HERE.

He doesn't have too many complaints. He would have had "4th of July Asbury Park" higher than 31st and "Out In The Street" higher than 37th. He would have had "Mary's Place" way higher than 74th.

The whole thing got TB thinking about how someone like Springsteen can still have that level of energy at this stage of his life. The same applies to other musicians who have moved into their 60s and 70s.

Heck, Mick Jagger is 76 years old. Keith Richards? He's 75. And they're still touring, right?

Contrast that with athletes. The physical toll just takes too much out of them. That, and the fact that there's a finite number of spots available. You can't just keep adding players to rosters, the way you could with musical acts.

As you may be aware, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a concert in Jadwin Gym once, back on Nov. 1, 1978. He would play seven of the top eight songs on the 70th birthday list in that concert, which was 41 years ago.

Presumably, there was no live tweeting of the concert.

A world without Twitter. Who even remembers such a thing?

As TB has said before, the best thing about Twitter is the way it can be used for in-game highlights of Princeton sporting events, of course.

And postgame celebrations too.

The short video that TB made of wide receiver Andrei Iosivas after the 49-7 win over Butler Saturday night had more than 3,000 views. The one of the team in the locker room celebrating had more than 8,000.

Those are pretty good numbers.

Up next for the Tigers is a trip Saturday to Bucknell, with a 3:30 kickoff. This will be TB's second football game ever at Bucknell, after a game in 1996 that is pretty hard to forget.

If, instead of the top Springsteen songs, you're making a list of the 100 Princeton football games played in the worst conditions, you might want to include that 1996 game. 

That game had to be the wettest football game TB has ever attended. It rained all afternoon and night on Friday and then never let up on Saturday.

TB brought his nice pants and shoes to wear to the game but instead went with jeans and sneakers. He's pretty sure he was never able to wear those sneakers again.

The field at Christy Mathewson Stadium was all mud, which made any attempt at offense difficult. In fact, the teams would combine for 205 yards of offense, or less than half of what Princeton put up against Butler in the first half alone Saturday night. There would be 14 fumbles, 19 punts and no touchdown drive longer than 15 yards.

The final score would be Bucknell 10, Princeton 6.

As TB remembers it, the winning points came after a great Princeton goal line stand and then subsequent fumble and touchdown for the Bison. He remembers mostly a defensive struggle, with a lot of mud-covered uniforms.

This year's game doesn't figure to be a repeat of that. For starters, Christy Mathewson Stadium is now FieldTurf. For another, the forcast for Lewisburg for Saturday is for sunny weather and a high in the 80s.

It's too bad that there was no in-game tweeting back in 1996. People love to see football highlights in terrible weather.

Anyway, Princeton will be playing its second game when it travels to Bucknell. After that comes the Ivy League opener against Columbia, on Powers Field on Oct. 5.

This team looks like it'll be a lot of fun to watch.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Two Homecomings

The first college football game ever played was between Princeton and Rutgers, in New Brunswick, on Nov. 6, 1869.

TigerBlog was talking to a few people at the Princeton-Butler game Saturday night about that game, how it was essentially 25 on 25 full contact soccer. When TB thinks about it, he wonders what in the world it must have looked like.

Imagine it. Two teams of 25 each going after each other. It had to be total chaos, no? 

The second football game was a week later at Princeton.

That game was Homecoming Day for Princeton that year. The alums came back in big numbers to see the new sensation. There was a parade before the game, and a Homecoming King and Queen were crowned to ride in the lead float with then-President James McCosh, who mentioned that one day there'd be  a health center and a classroom that pretty much every Princeton student would have at least one class in during their four years named for him along what then was the parade route. 

Actually, the last paragraph was a complete fabrication.

When was the first homecoming game? It depends whom you ask.

There is pretty much universal acknowledgement that Princeton-Rutgers was the first game, which makes this the 150th anniversary season for the sport. Everyone can agree on that.

As for the first Homecoming game? Here's a list of schools who claim to own it: Baylor, Illinois, Missouri, Southwestern University and Northern Illinois. All of these go back to the early 1900s.

This past weekend's two Princeton homecomings got TB thinking about the origins of what people consider when they think of Homecoming Games. Football. Alums. Tailgates. Parades. That sort of thing.

The two this weekend were of another variety, when old friends came back to visit.

The men's water polo team hosted Wagner and Navy this past weekend, winning both. The Tigers are ranked 14th nationally.

Navy, of course, is led by former longtime Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao. The team put together a pregame video recognizing the old coach.

 
Luis is one of the great characters who ever worked at Princeton. That's obvious from the video, which mentions 1) how he used to be Santa Claus every year at the holiday party and 2) how he once fell in the pool during a match.

The other homecoming was Sunday on Myslik Field, where Princeton defeated William & Mary in women's soccer 1-0. The W&M coach is now Julie Shackford, who, like Luis, was coached at Princeton for 20 years.

Shackford and Nicolao are by far the coaches with the most wins at Princeton in their sports. Between them, they had a Princeton combined record of 1,071-431-29. That's a lot of winning.

Both coaches took their Princeton teams regularly to the postseason, including to the NCAA Final Four. Both also coached Olympic medalists - Ashleigh Johnson won gold in water polo, and Diana Matheson won two bronzes in soccer.

And they were back this weekend.

TB never got a chance to see Luis. He did see Julie, whose daughter Kayleigh started for the Tribe in the game and whose son Keegan was in attendance.

So were a lot of her Princeton alums. When the game ended, it was non-stop hugs and photos, and TB presumes the same happened in DeNunzio Pool as well.

It can't be easy for a longtime coach to come back to Princeton and coach against the program that they helped build and had so much success with for so long. TB understands why certain coaches are so resistant to it.

On the other hand, it did make for a pretty special weekend for Princeton water polo and women's soccer.

And probably for a few additional pregame jitters for the returnees.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Shoe Filling

TigerBlog's thoughts as kickoff neared for the Princeton-Butler game Saturday were actually on someone who wasn't even in the stadium.

And that was news.

No, he's not talking about two-time Bushnell Cup-winning quarterback John Lovett, or graduated wide receivers Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson. They weren't in the stadium either, or if they were, TB didn't see them.

Those three are in the NFL now, and they left some gigantic shoes to fill. TigerBlog could relate to the players who had to fill them, since he was doing something similar.

For the first time in 17 years, Craig Sachson was not the Princeton communications football contact for a game. TB was, for Game 1 of his second go-round in the position.

Craig left the University in April, ending a long run in college athletics in which he did so much for so many teams and really thousands of athletes. He loved all of his teams and all of his coaches, and he did as much as he can to treat them equally.

Still, there was something a little more special for him about Princeton Football. Perhaps it's the quantity of work involved. Perhaps it's the number of players. Or, in his case, perhaps it was from not missing a single game for 17 seasons, a total of 170 straight Princeton football games that he worked.

For almost all of that time, TB was the Princeton Stadium PA announcer, a role he has relinquished to Spenser Smith, who did one women's lacrosse game last year and who works for the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team. Spenser was tremendous behind the mic for the his first Princeton football game, leading TB to joke that everyone would like the new PA guy more than the old one and the old communications guy more than the new one.

As Saturday late afternoon rolled around, here it was, for the first time since the 2001 season, a Princeton football game without Craig Sachson - a season-opener that Princeton won 49-7 over Butler.

It was a bit different not to have him there.

And it's why TB could relate at least a little to the players who were stepping in for the NFL guys, at least on some level.

It's not easy when there have been such established presences in a role that is now your responsibility. Everyone is so used to the old guys, how they operated, what they did, what they meant to the program. And now they're just not there anymore, moved on to a different challenge - in the case of the players professional football, and in the case of Craig, biomedical informatics.

For Week 1, things seemed to go well for all the newbies.

TigerBlog thought he wrote a good story, which was aided by the fact that the real newbies had such a dynamic game.

It started with Kevin Davidson, the 6-4 225-pound quarterback who started one game a year ago, when Lovett was hurt against Brown. Davidson has spent three years learning from Lovett and Chad Kanoff, and he was clearly ready for the start of his senior year.

By halftime Davidson had thrown for 318 yards, completing 16 of 18, with a pair of touchdowns, and led the Tigers on six straight TD drives. He'd throw only three more passes in the second half, completing two, making the final line 18 for 21 for 341.

It's not just that he was completing passes. It's that he was throwing perfect passes. And it's not just that he was throwing perfect passes, he was throwing all kinds of perfect passes, to basically every area of the field.

And beyond all of that, he was doing so to a new generation of receivers, and they looked as good as he did.

As big a question mark as was left by Lovett's graduation, at least there was the knowledge that Davidson had throw for 300 yards in a start last year. It was the loss of Horsted and Carlson at wide receiver, at least to TigerBlog, that was a bigger unknown.

Horsted and Carlson rank 1-3 on Princeton's career touchdown receptions list, with 44 between them. a year ago they combined for 123 catches, 1,730 yards and 18 touchdowns.

In their place were four players - Andrew Griffin, Jacob Birmelin, Andrei Iosivas and Dylan Classi. That group last year combined for 17 catches, 185 yards and one touchdown.

And that didn't matter at all Saturday night.

All four of them made big plays. All four of them played with great confidence.

By halftime, they had zoomed past last year's combined receiving yardage total. For the night they caught nine passes for 257 yards, with three of them touchdowns - two from the 6-4 Iosivas, who was the Ivy League indoor heptathlon champ a year ago. That's pronounced "YO-see-vosh," by the way.

The contributions were well-spread between the four. One of the Iosivas TD receptions came on a pass from Classi, who also made a great catch on a 44-yard pass to set up another touchdown. Griffin had his first career TD reception, and Birmelin led the group with 87 yards.

Princeton was completely dominant in the first half, in all phases. Tavish Rice was 7 for 7 on extra points and had eight touchbacks in eight kickoff attempts.

With this one over, Princeton plays its first road game this coming Saturday, at Bucknell. Then it's the Ivy opener against Columbia at home. The league this year looks pretty strong, at least through one week's results.

TB has been trying to find the right balance of talking about last year's unbeaten season and the players who graduated with the idea that this is a new year and a new team with a new identity.

In Week 1, the ones who weren't here anymore were a big part of the story.

A bigger part was how impressive their replacements were.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Opening Kickoff

TigerBlog isn't usually a big celebrity gossip fan or anything like that.

He's never watched any of those "Real Housewives" shows or the Kardashians, and he never will.

He did notice a headline in the New York Post Wednesday, though, that caught his attention. It was about the new quarterback for the Giants, Daniel Jones, and his girlfriend. The headline was this: "Meet Ella Bonafede, girlfriend of Giants' starting quarterback Daniel Jones."

TB immediately put it all together. Bonafede. As in Sam Bonafede, former Princeton men's lacrosse face-off man. As in, Sam Bonafede, whose sister played lacrosse ... at Duke ... where Jones went to school.

Then he double-checked, and Bonafede's sister is in fact named Ella. He didn't really need to check, of course, since the picture of Ella Bonafede with Jones makes it fairly obvious that she's Sam's sister.

And there you have it.

Sam Bonafede, by the way, is a 2018 grad who is currently at the University of Chicago Law School. TB once wrote this about him:
 "Bono," as they call him, could be the perfect Princeton ambassador, always upbeat, always supportive. He's the kind of kid you look at and know that he's going to make a real difference in the decades to come.

And that was before his sister was apparently dating the new starting quarterback for the New York Giants.

There will be a new starting quarterback for the Princeton football team this year. And two new starting wide receivers. And two new starting inside linebackers. And some other new starters dotted throughout the lineup.

The kickoff for the 2019 Tigers comes up tomorrow, when Princeton hosts Butler on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Kickoff is at 5, after the Community Day activities at 3:30, including the youth sports clinic on Weaver Track.

For Princeton, it's the season after the season. A year ago, the Tigers went 10-0, going unbeaten for the first time in 54 years.

As TB went through last year's stats, it came back to him just how dominant those Tigers were. The average score of a Princeton game last year was Tigers 47, Other Guys 13.

That's pretty dominant.

Princeton lost its last game of the 2017 season, which means that the current winning streak sits at 10 games. The last time Princeton won 10 straight was between 1994-95. Before that, you have to go back to 1964-65. Before that it's 1949-52. Before that it was 1934-35.

In other words, it's a pretty special accomplishment.

Princeton has won three of the last six Ivy League championships, and you don't do that by having one or two great classes that come through. No, what Princeton has done is build a winning culture, and that has led to sustained success.

If you want to read a pretty good story about the Tigers' success and the link between head coach Bob Surace and Dallas Cowboys' head coach Jason Garrett (if you're a Princeton fan, you probably already know a lot about this), click HERE.

As for the 2019 Tigers, they're picked to finish third in the league, behind Dartmouth and Yale, two teams that Princeton will play on consecutive November Saturdays. The first of those game is against the Big Green on Nov. 9 at Yankee Stadium as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of college football, followed by Yale at home Nov. 16.

The game tomorrow is the opener for Princeton and Game 4 for Butler, who is 1-2 on the season. Princeton and Butler have met once before, last year in Indianapolis, where Princeton won 50-7 after leading 44-7 at halftime.

The 2019 Tigers have more sophomores (19) listed on the two-deep than they do from any other class. There are 24 freshmen and sophomores and 29 juniors and seniors. It's a great mix of returning players who had huge roles in past years, returning players who will have bigger roles and new players who are getting their first real shot at meaningful playing time.

After the Butler game is a trip to Bucknell, followed at home by the Ivy League opener against Columbia. That's in two weeks, and it'll be here in no time.

In fact, the entire season, as always, will seem to fly by. It figures to be a fun one.

That's how Princeton football has been lately. Fun, and successful.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Divided Loyalties

As part of his remembrance of Reddy Finney yesterday, TigerBlog mentioned his grandfather John, a member of the Class of 1884.

One thing TB did not include in that was the fact that John, at least according to the "Princeton Companion," John Finney is the only person who ever played football for both Princeton and Harvard.

According to the Companion, John Finney played at Princeton and then, after graduating, played the next year for Harvard while attending medical school there. Back then, there were no rules about having grad students play. There were probably no compliance officers, and, since the NCAA was still 21 years away from being formed, presumably no rule book.

Apparently, though, John did not play for Harvard against Princeton that fall.

The entry also mentions that John scored Princeton's only touchdown against Harvard his senior year, which is a little confusing. Actually, it's a lot confusing.

If you assume John's senior football season was 1883, then Princeton defeated Harvard 26-7. If it was 1884, then it was Princeton 36, Harvard 6. If it was 1882, then it was still when they had scores like 1g-1g,1t, which is the score that both teams list in their archives.

So no matter how you look at it, there's no game in there where Princeton scored only one touchdown. That's okay though.

Here's another interesting bit of information from the Companion. TB will quote directly:
A scrappy player, Finney's hard tackle of a back in the Yale game his senior year led to an exchange of unpleasantries. The following week the Police Gazette asked Finney for his photograph to include with John L. Sullivan's in a gallery of ``the leading exponents of the manly art of self-defense,'' but Finney did not avail himself of this honor. ``I got credit,'' he later recalled, ``for a lot of slugging that was going on around me, in which I had no other part than that of peacemaker.'' 

That's just funny. This part gives you a better perspective on the man:
Finney gave up football after his first season with Harvard in order to do justice to his medical studies. On receiving his M.D. and completing his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, he went to Baltimore, where as professor of surgery he was associated with men like William H. Welch, Sir William Osler, and William S. Halsted in developing the great medical school and hospital at Johns Hopkins. Finney specialized in surgery of the alimentary canal, for which he devised a number of important operative techniques.
As chief consultant in surgery for the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, Finney organized new methods for administering surgical aid to the wounded at the front, and was decorated by the United States, France, and Belgium. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England, of Ireland, and of Edinburgh, and in 1932 was awarded the Bigelow gold medal, one of the highest honors in surgery in this country. He was a founder and first president of the American College of Surgeons. He was also president of the American Surgical Association and of the Society of Clinical Surgery. He pioneered in the recruitment and training of black surgeons. 

That's quite a family, the Finney family.

Anyway, back at the point, John Finney once could understand what Julie Shackford will be thinking this weekend.

Shackford spent 20 years as the head coach of women's soccer at Princeton. No soccer coach at Princeton, with the men's or women's team, has ever won more than the 203 games she did.

Beyond that, Shackford also took her team to six Ivy League championships and eight NCAA tournaments. The crowning achievement for her came in 2004, when she led the Tigers to the NCAA Final Four while earning national Division I Coach of the Year honors.

Shackford left Princeton after the 2014 season, and she is now in her second season as the head coach at her alma mater, William & Mary. This Sunday she brings her team back to Princeton, to Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium.

Shackford will be coaching against her successor, Sean Driscoll, who has won three Ivy titles and been to three NCAA tournaments - including one quarterfinal spot - in his first four seasons with the Tigers.

There are other Princeton-William & Mary connections in women's soccer than just the Tribe head coach. W&M freshman Jillian O'Toole, for instance, is the younger sister of Princeton's Kevin O'Toole, the reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

And then there is Kayleigh Shackford, Julie's daughter. Kayleigh essentially grew up on Myslik Field, running around with that year's Princeton players and kicking a ball with her younger twin siblings Cameron and Keegan.

Kayleigh is now a William & Mary freshman. It'll be a homecoming for her too.

There have been other former Princeton coaches who have come back to play against the Tigers, most recently Jeff Kampersal with the Penn State women's hockey team and Bill Tierney with the Denver men's lacrosse team. It's always special.

Sunday's will be as well. For mother and daughter.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In Memorium

In the world of music, there are those that TigerBlog has loved, which includes, well, you know who is on that list if you've been paying attention here for the last 11 years.

Then there are those whom TB simply cannot listen to even for a minute. That's the largest group by far.

Lastly, there are those whom TB has always liked, and even owned several albums of at one point, but wouldn't say he loved them. This is the group whose music usually gets him to stop and listen when it's on, even if he doesn't actually seek it out.

These are groups that have a few songs that he likes a lot, and that's where it ends. For most of this group, he's never seen them in concert, because he hasn't cared enough to do so, but yeah, he likes them. Maybe it's because they bring him back to his much younger days? Maybe it's the genre? Maybe it's a bunch of factors like that?

However you want to describe them, their ranks have diminished by two in the last week with the deaths of Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek, the lead singer of the group The Cars.

TigerBlog liked both of them a lot. He didn't love either of them. They both sang songs that he's listened to a million times and really enjoys. He never saw either in concert.

He first came to like both in middle school or high school. Neither has come out with a song that he can think of in decades, but he still likes the old stuff.

Plus, both of them always seemed like pretty good guys. Ocasek, of course, was married to supermodel Paulina Porizkova, which proved conclusively that being a rock star meant you could overcome not exactly being the best looking guy around. Money was at one point on the road to being a New York City police officer, and he just seemed like he was having fun all the time.

Favorite songs of each? For Money, it was "I Wanna Go Back." For Ocasek, it was "Good Times Roll."

And now they're gone, both in their 70s.

TB found out about Money's death because his songs were dominating four different Sirius stations, and he assumed it was because it was his birthday. Instead, it was a memorial.

As was with the case of the two rockers, TigerBlog never met Redmond Finney. It doesn't mean that he doesn't know a lot about him.

Finney was a three-sport athlete at Princeton, in wrestling, lacrosse and football. How good was he at lacrosse and football? He became an All-America in both. How common is that? Only one other person has ever done so.

Care to guess who that was? It should be obvious. It was Jim Brown. When you're in that company, you've done something quite incredible.

Finney, a member of the Class of 1951, passed away earlier this summer. A Korean War veteran after graduation, he's known mostly for his long tenure as the headmaster at the Gilman School in Baltimore.

Finney was the 2012 Class of 1967 PVC Citizen Athlete Award winner. Here's what the story about his award said at the time:
Reddy Finney will receive the Class of 1967 PVC Citizen-Athlete Award, which is presented by the Princeton Varsity Club for selfless and noble contributions to society. Finney was a three-sport standout while at Princeton, earning All-America honors in both football and lacrosse, and being named captain of the wrestling team as a senior. He was the 1951 recipient of the prestigious William Winston Roper Trophy, which is awarded to a Princeton man of high scholastic rank, outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics.
After graduation, Finney was a member of the U.S. Navy Amphibious Corps, spending two years in Korea. In 1954, he began a 38-year term of service at his secondary school alma mater, the Gilman School. Mr. Finney spent 14 years as a teacher and coach, followed by 24 years as Headmaster of the Baltimore preparatory school, whose athletic complex is named in his honor. He has given back to Princeton in many ways, including serving as an Alumni Trustee and Class President. 

If you want to read his full obituary, you can do so HERE.

Finney's full name was "Redmond," and he was only known as either "Redmond" or "Reddy," never as "Red." Also, Finney Field is not named for him but instead for his grandfather, John, a member of the Class of 1884.

TigerBlog, as he said, doesn't think he ever met Mr. Finney. He does know a lot of people from Gilman and Baltimore who have, as well as many people who knew him from Princeton, and they all spoke about him in the most glowing of terms.

One of TB's favorite things about Princeton is that it brings in people like Reddy Finney and then watches as they do great things for their lives after they graduate, all while staying close and loyal to the University for the rest of their lives.

By all accounts, Reddy Finney was that kind of a person, someone all Princetonians can be proud of, someone who lived his life with great honor and selflessness.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September Hockey

TigerBlog is not a fan of open heights. Not in the least.

One of his proudest moments came on the men's lacrosse international trip in 2016, when he summoned all his courage to do the zipline from Spain into Portugal over the Rio Guadiana. Thinking back on it, he's not sure how he did it.

At least on the zipline he was tethered to something, so even if his sweaty palms slipped off the metal apparatus he was holding, he presumably wouldn't have fallen.

That was not the case when it came to the hot air balloon TB saw the other day as it drifted leisurely through the late summer afternoon. Fortunately for TB, he was on the ground looking up at it, rather than the other way around.

He's never been in a hot air balloon. It would take a lot to get him to ever do this.

His guess is that the basket that you are in goes up to the upper chest, which in his mind greatly increases the chances of, well, you know. Splat.

He's not sure how high up the balloon was, but it was definitely high enough that TB was imaging cowering on the floor of the basket or something like that while everyone else was saying "wow, the view is amazing, come look."

In fact, TB looked it up and learned that balloons typically cruise between 500 and 1,000 feet. Also, the balloons can't really control their direction as much as they might want because of the wind, but the altitude is easy to maintain.

So yeah. Don't look up and expect to see TB in a balloon any time soon - even if he knows that yes, it's probably very safe. Probably.

The people in the balloon chose that ride over watching NFL football, since this was Sunday afternoon. As for TB, he's watched more college field hockey than college or pro football to date.

He hasn't had to watch any games to get the sense that it's not looking like it'll be a Dolphins-Giants Super Bowl this year. 

The Princeton field hockey team is 3-1, and all four of its games have been 1) decided by one goal and 2) against nationally ranked teams. This is something that bodes well for the Tigers as they chase a third Final Four in the last five years.

The next three games, by the way, are also against nationally ranked teams, and that stretch sees those three games played in a span of just five days. It starts with Friday evening's game against No. 21 Rutgers (6 pm start) and then continues with a home game Sunday against No. 3 UConn at noon and then a trip to No. 4 Maryland Tuesday (that game starts at 6 in College Park).

That's a pretty ambitious bit of scheduling, but it's also typical for Princeton field hockey. The Tigers, whose only loss so far was in the opening at No. 1 North Carolina, duck nobody. 

Princeton's most recent game was a 2-1 win over No. 17 Penn State, behind a pair of second-half goals by Clara Roth, after Penn State had taken the lead in the second quarter - field hockey is playing four quarters now.

And who scored the Penn State goal? TB was struck by the name - Abby Myers.

It's not spelled the same as the "other" Abby Meyers, the one that Princeton fans are much more familiar with, the one who is returning to the women's basketball team this year after a year off last year. The Penn State field hockey Abby Myers is from Wisconsin, by the way.

The Penn State Abby Myers got TB to think if he can remember another team who came here with an athlete who had the same name as a Princeton athlete, even if they spelled them differently. He'll come up with someone he's pretty sure.

The Tigers weekend began with a 4-3 win Friday afternoon over Albany. Roth, who had the two goals against Penn State, assisted on three goals in that game.

So far through four games, Princeton has had eight players who have at least one goal or one assist, which is pretty good balance throughout the lineup.

The upcoming stretch for Princeton will be challenging, and they'll also be the final games before the Ivy League opener at Dartmouth a week from Saturday, the 28th. That'll be the last game of the month of September.

Princeton, of course, is thinking about what it always thinks about this time of year - the games the team wants to play come November.

Monday, September 16, 2019

It's Game Week

TigerBlog starts today with what is probably a silly question.

There's an app on his phone that tells him how far he's walked each day. The question: how does the phone know that you're walking, as opposed to riding a bike or driving a car? It has to have something to do with the motion that your body makes when it walks, rather than speed, TB would guess.

TB would expand on that thought, except he doesn't have time. Nope, it's Game Week for Princeton football, and TB is in his new role as the football contact, which makes him a bit busy right about now.

The 150th season of Princeton football kicks off Saturday evening at 5, after Community Day activities begin at 3:30. There will be the annual youth sports clinic at Weaver Track and Field Stadium, and there will also be a Family Fun Fest and community service project on the Princeton Stadium concourse.

As for the football game, Princeton will be taking on a Butler team that has already played three games. The Bulldogs bring a 1-2 record to New Jersey for the second meeting in the series, which began last year with a 50-7 Princeton win in Indiana.

The game against Butler begins a 10-week season that has a bunch of obvious storylines:

* it's the 150th anniversary season of college football, which began with a Princeton-Rutgers game on Nov. 6, 1869. Princeton will be celebrating all season.

* Princeton enters the year off a 10-0 season a year ago, the first perfect season in 54 years. Only once since 1900 has Princeton had back-to-back perfect seasons, and that was in 1950 and 1951.

* Who will be Princeton's quarterback to replace graduated John Lovett, and who will be the receivers who replace graduated Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson. All three of those players went from Princeton the NFL.

* Princeton has won three Ivy League titles in the last six years. Can the Tigers make it four in seven? The league's preseason poll says no, that it'll be Yale, followed by Dartmouth and then Princeton. How accurate will that prove to be?

* Princeton will play at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 9 against Dartmouth. Princeton has never played in the new Yankee Stadium and last played at the old Stadium in 1942, when it played both Army and Navy.

* Bob Surace is in his 10th season as the Charles W. Caldwell Jr. Head Coach of Football at Princeton with a record of 48-42. If you remember that he was 2-20 to start his career, he has gone 46-22 since, which is really, really good.

* Princeton had the highest scoring offense in Ivy League history a year ago, averaging 47.0 points per game.

That's some of the background on the season that is about to get started. There will be no shortage of football content on goprincetontigers.com as the year goes along, including the return of the Princeton football podcast (airing each Wednesday) and Princeton Football Friday (airing, well, you can figure that out).

This year will also see something new, a 10-week documentary series that traces the history of Princeton football. That will air each Tuesday, beginning with Episode 1 tomorrow. The documentary is a project of TB's colleague Cody Chrusciel, who will also be back as the play-by-play voice of the Tigers on the radio for away games and on ESPN+ for home games (except for the Lafayette game, which will be on ESPNU).

There was also be written content, of course, and that will be done by TigerBlog this year, after 17 years of having Craig Sachson as the football contact. TB is sort of like the Grover Cleveland of football contacts, since he was the contact before Craig, which means he's replacing the guy who replaced him.

There are also all kinds of other tasks besides writing about the team. There are credentials to hand out, flip charts to make, a press box to take care of, stats to be done and on and on.

It's a lot, but it's also fun.

And so, similar to his first go-round in 1994, TB is very much looking forward to the opening kickoff for the football season.

It's Princeton-Butler, Saturday at 5, Community and Staff Day before that. And nine more games after that.

It'll be a season that celebrates history, even as the current team tries to make some of its own.