This weekend, the football team will travel down to Washington D.C. to take on Georgetown. Both teams will be looking to bounce back from disappointing results last week — Georgetown (1-3) lost big to Brown (45-7), while Princeton (0-1) lost a shocker at home in which Lehigh came back to score 26 points in the last 21 minutes for a 29-28 win.
Despite the tough loss, there were many positive takeaways for Princeton fans, most notably the impressive play of sophomore tailback DiAndre Atwater. After battling injury for much of last season, Atwater started off his 2013 campaign with an explosive opening performance in which he tallied a career-best 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries.
The rest of the offense also impressed against then-No. 22 Lehigh. Senior receiver Roman Wilson racked up nine receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown as he caught passes from both junior quarterbacks, Connor Michelson and Quinn Epperly. The dual-quarterback attack served Princeton well, as the two combined to complete 25 of 40 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown.
Given Atwater’s impressive showing and the two interceptions thrown by Michelson against Lehigh, Princeton may look to the ground more against the Hoyas. Atwater should be looking forward to facing a Georgetown defense against which he ran for 92 yards — the most individual rushing yards of any Tiger in 2012 — on 15 carries, including a 53-yard touchdown run, his first collegiate score.
“Both defensively and offensively we were aggressive and came out in the first half ready to go. The fast starts are critical,” sophomore strong safety Matt Arends said of the Georgetown game. “Biggest thing was making plays to finish the game. We didn’t make the plays we needed to in order to win. It all comes back to finishing.”
Princeton’s defense certainly has something to prove against the Hoyas after a second half versus Lehigh which saw them cede 26 points and 18 first downs. Granted, the Tigers’ defense also held that same team to a measly three points and 27 yards rushing in the first half, but they cannot afford a similar lapse against Georgetown. Princeton fans may recall that in last season’s matchup, Georgetown drove 72 yards on 15 plays late in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
But the Tiger defense has the talent to perform at a high level, even after losing star defensive end Mike Catapano ’13, currently with the Kansas City Chiefs. Senior defensive lineman Caraun Reid, an NFL prospect looking to fill Catapano’s shoes, had a big game last season against the Hoyas, registering six tackles, a sack and a blocked kick. Reid has made the All-Ivy League First Team each of the past two seasons.
Despite mistakes against Lehigh, the Tigers’ secondary is promising. Head coach Bob Surace ’90 is starting two sophomores, cornerback Anthony Gaffney and Arends, who last year split the Pink Baker award as the top freshmen defensive players on the team. Last season Gaffney won Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice, while Arends led all Princeton underclassmen with 44 tackles. Arends moves from cornerback to strong safety this year.
The game kicks off Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Washington, D.C.