Penn aims for fifth Ivy win against Tigers
Quakers expect better offense from Princeton and first-year coach Bob Surace
November 5, 2010, 2:58 am · Updated November 5, 2010, 12:00 am·
The start of Princeton football’s 2010 season was rough under new head coach Bob Surace. But when archrival Penn arrives at the Tigers’ stadium, the home team will quickly forget their struggles.
“I’m expecting their best effort, I don’t think they have played as well as they’re capable of,” said Penn coach Al Bagnoli. “I told our kids, ‘I think you’re going to see a completely different Princeton team this week.’”
The Quakers will travel to Princeton Saturday for their fifth Ivy League game of the season. Penn (6-1, 4-0 Ivy) is still undefeated in the conference, while the Tigers (1-6, 0-4) have yet to register a conference win.
Though the Quakers defeated Princeton last season at Franklin Field, 42-7, the addition of Surace to the Princeton team has turned the Tigers into a more offensive-minded bunch.
“Both schemes — offensively and defensively — are radically different from last year with the new coaching staff,” Bagnoli said.
Surace, a Princeton graduate and member of its 1989 Ivy League champion team, spent the last nine seasons as the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.
His offensive experience has propelled Princeton to first in the Ivy League in pass attempts and third in passing yards.
Princeton wide receiver Trey Peacock leads the conference with 56 receptions and 814 receiving yards — over 225 yards more than the closest receiver. Senior running back Jordan Culbreath, who has returned to the field after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease, leads the Tigers in rushing yards and ranks eighth in the Ivy League.
Bagnoli is well aware of Princeton’s new offensive tendencies. To prepare his conference-leading defense for the Tigers’ style of play, the coach has been running no-huddle plays in practice this week.
“They’ll give you a lot of passes, outside run plays and trick plays,” Bagnoli said. “They do a lot of things at a fast-paced clip, so you really got to be on your toes defensively.”
On offense, the Quakers’ goal is to remain balanced between rushing and passing plays.
“If we can throw for 150 to 200 yards per game, that’s going to put a lot of pressure on people,” Bagnoli said. “We want to be effective running and throwing the ball.”
Penn’s offensive rushing attack has been stellar this season, led by sophomore running backs Brandon Colavita and Jeff Jack, as well as quarterback Billy Ragone.
“Our plan going into every game is to keep fresh legs and wear teams down,” said Colavita, the Ancient Eight’s fourth-leading rusher. “I hope it’s going to be no different this weekend.”
The Quakers lead the Ivy League in rushing attempts and rushing touchdowns and rank second in rushing yards and yards per carry.
The Princeton defense ranks second-to-last in the conference in total, rushing and passing yards allowed per game. But with a long-standing rivalry on the line, the Tigers will surely come ready to play.
“We better bring our A-game because they are going to be ready, they are going to be fired up, they are going to be emotional,” Bagnoli said. “They’re getting into a situation where they could knock us off, knock Yale off and knock Dartmouth off.”