Monday, October 15, 2012

Progress Report

As much as TigerBlog dislikes the Eagles, he was still hoping they'd win when their game against the Lions went to overtime Sunday.


Because he couldn't believe that Detroit didn't go for the win at the end of regulation.

If you missed it, the Lions had the ball on the Philadelphia 1 with 13 seconds to go, down three points, with no timeouts. Two incomplete passes later, the Lions kicked a field goal to go to overtime.

Was that the right choice? On the play that the field goal was kicked, the option was to get one yard and win the game or kick the sure field goal and go to OT, where it'd be 50-50.

Had Detroit gone for the win, its chances were probably better than 50%, probably around 75% or so.

It would have taken guts though, because Detroit coach Jim Schwartz would have been second-guessed up one side and down the other. And NFL coaches never want to get the blame, only the credit.

So Detroit kicked, and ultimately it worked out.

Still, having the ball on the goal line needing only to punch it in to win? It's too tempting not to try.

Then there are the Yankees. Sure, the chance is still there to come back and win the series, but it's not exactly looking good, not down 2-0 and having to go on the road to go up against Justin Verlander.

On top of that, New York has now played 21 innings in the ALCS and has come up scoreless in 20 of them. And Derek Jeter is out. And nobody is hitting. It's quite shocking to watch, actually, even for someone who can't stand the Yankees.

Ah, but that's baseball talk. And today is all about football.

The Giants won, defeating the 49ers rather easily. TB is pleased that his favorite team is now 4-2, but he is on record as saying he would have been fine had they gone 0-16 this year, after winning two of the last four Super Bowls.

One team that TB didn't want to see go winless was the Princeton football team.

Now, after Saturday's 19-0 win over Brown, Princeton has needed half of this season to eclipse the combined win total of the last two years.

In fact, prior to Saturday, Princeton was 4-1 against Columbia and Lafayette and 0-19 against everyone else under Bob Surace. The need to get a win over Brown was huge, especially since the Tigers were 0-12 against the final six opponents over the last two years.

It's hard to point to a moment when a program turns the corner, and you never want to look too much into any one result. But Brown played Harvard decently close and has been the second-best team in the league of late, and Princeton hadn't beaten the Bears since 2006.

Princeton has to be the most improved defensive team in the country.

A year ago, Princeton allowed an average of 32.5 points, 270.5 passing yards and 396.5 total yards per game.

This year, those numbers are 11.6 points, 211.6 passing yards and 306.0 total yards.

Princeton allowed 24 passing touchdowns last year. So far this year that number is one.

Even in hidden areas Princeton has improved. A year ago, Princeton averaged 65 yards per game in penalties. This year, that number is 33, essentially half as much.

So where are the Tigers now?

Tied for first in the Ivy League, that's where.

The teams they're tied with are Harvard and Penn. There probably aren't too many objective observers of Ivy League football who think that Harvard isn't going to run the table this year, but that doesn't mean the Crimson definitely will.

Princeton hosts Harvard Saturday at 1 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Hopefully the weather will be the same as it was this past weekend, when it was perfect.

It'd be great to see how big the crowd might be.

In the meantime, when a team defends the way Princeton has this year, it's hard to think in terms of not being in a game.

Regardless of what happens, it's great that Princeton is in this position, of playing a big game in late October.

TigerBlog would suggest that Princeton not sight of its goal for the year, which was to have measurable improvement over the last two. In terms of actual numbers, getting to 5-5 would be a great step in the right direction.

And Princeton could do that, even if it loses Saturday.

But the Tigers shouldn't think like that. No, Princeton should prepare this week like it's another game and then take its best shot at beating the Crimson.

Certainly what happened against Brown should be a huge confidence booster.

It was a great game for the Tigers, and a huge sign of progress.

Halfway through the 2012 season, it's obvious that the 1-9 years are well in the rearview mirror.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

Excellent win for the Tiggers! Is this the first time Princeton has shut out Brown?

Excellent football weekend all around. Princeton, Rutgers (BCS #15!) and G-men all victorious!!! Oh yeh, that other team who plays in our stadium also won - good for them.