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For the Princeton football team, this season is all about the rush — in more ways than one.

The first task for coach Roger Hughes is to get his team prepared to start the season, and there is no time to waste.

The Tigers have had less than one month to prepare for their opener against the Citadel ­— training camp started Aug. 26 — and the Orange and Black will need to take major strides if they hope to avenge a 24-37 loss in last season’s opener.

And if history is any indicator, the urgency to win the first game of the season cannot be overlooked.

In the last six years, the Tigers have gone 3-3 in their opening games. Their record in the three seasons following a win was 21-9 compared to a dismal 10-20 in the three seasons that opened with a loss.

And while Princeton will need to hurry to get off to a fast start, the rush may in fact prove to be its most powerful weapon.

Led by the 2008 Ivy League rushing champion and unanimous first team All-Ivy selection Jordan Culbreath, the Tigers’ formidable ground game will need to be on point if they hope to improve upon a 4-6 (3-4 Ivy) record.

In Princeton’s four wins last season, Culbreath — who ran for 1,206 total yards on the year — averaged 158 rushing yards on 26 carries per game, while in the squad’s six losses, he averaged only 95.7 rushing yards on 18.2 carries per game.

Fortunately for Culbreath, Princeton returns four starters on its offensive line, including senior Mark Paski, who has started every game since his freshman opener, ­and J.P. Makrai, who has started 26 in a row.

Hughes’ offense will rely heavily on the run not only because of Culbreath’s talent, but also because the Tigers have a new starting quarterback for the fourth year in a row. This year, sophomore Tommy Wormham will call the shots for Princeton’s offense.

But the rush is not Princeton’s only strength.

On defense, the squad returns two All-Ivy inside linebackers — senior Scott Britton and junior Steven Cody — as well as three starters from the backfield.

Princeton begins its Ivy competition at home Oct. 3 when it squares off against Columbia, and the Tigers will face Brown, Harvard and Cornell before traveling to Franklin Field to take on the Quakers Nov. 7.

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