Editor's Note: This is a series that will be running in the lead-off to the start of the Ivy League football season. Members of the WHRB staff are writing up previews of each team, looking at the positives and negatives for all of the teams, and giving an overall impression if where the team was picked in the Ivy League football media day was correct. Our series last looked at Dartmouth; today, we take a look at the Princeton Tigers.
Princeton Football Preview:
by James Yoon
Princeton is looking to surprise teams in the Ivy League after a strong finish to last season. After starting 1-5, Princeton capped the season with a 3-1 record and look to continue that momentum into this year. However, many questions surround this young and inexperienced team. We'll take a look at some of those questions after the jump.
Key Returns: For the first time since 2006, Princeton has a returning starter at the quarterback position. Tommy Wornham was the starter for all 10 games last season and faced his share of adversity. During Princeton’s first six games, Wornham had thrown more interceptions than touchdowns but delivered in the last 4 games, ending the season ranked third in the Ivy League in both passing yardage and total offense. Even better for the development of Wornham, his top receivers, including Trey Peacock, Andrew Kerr and Jeb Heavenrich, are returning in 2010. Further aiding Wornham’s 2010 campaign is new offensive coordinator James Perry, who graduated from Brown in 2000 as the all-time passing leader for the Ivy League.
Depleted O-Line: One of the biggest questions on the offensive side is the experience of the offensive line. With graduating seniors, the line looks to replace 4 linemen positions. The most experience belongs to senior Andrew Mills, who is the only returning starter on the line from last season. Although the lineup has not been finalized, Juniors Kevin Mill, Matt Allen, Mike Muha, and Kevin DeMaio showed some potential during the preseason drills and have an edge on the starting spots.
Big Names on D, But Big Holes to Fill as Well: On the defensive side, senior co-captain and linebacker Steven Cody, who earned a preseason All-America honor this season, hopes to continue his presence and leadership under new defensive coordinator Jared Backus. On the defensive line, Senior Matt Boyer who might be the only starting senior on the defensive line, carries the momentum of a breakout junior year where he doubled his numbers from freshmen and sophomore campaigns combined. Sophomore Caraun Reid is another name to look out for in this year’s defensive line. Hobbled by an eye injury near the beginning of the season, Reid totaled 23 tackles in the last five games and four pass breakups in the last three. In the backfield is Junior safety Matt Wakuchik who finished third on the team last year with 60 tackles despite missing a game. He will likely be the most experienced player in the backfield and must lead the defense in a pass-happy Ivy League.
A Spark on Special Teams?: Special teams also looks to improve from last season. Last season, Princeton ranked last in the Ivy League in both punt returns and kickoff returns. Although Prineton showed flashes of brilliance in the return game, since Jay McCareins' touchdown against Harvard in the 2005 season, Princeton has not returned a kickoff for a score. The Tigers haven't returned a punt for a touchdown since 2000. They haven't blocked a punt since 2005, nor have they had a kicker make three field goals in one game since that season. With the return of Ivan Charbonneau and Jeb Heavenrich, Princeton hopes to reverse that trend. Charbonneau earned 17.4 yards per return and continues to show improvement in the offseason.
Despite the inexperience and holes in certain positions, Princeton hopes to be a surprising threat to the Ivy League and regain its dominance. Look for Princeton to upset several teams.