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 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.

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