The football team is looking to rebound from a season-opening loss to Lehigh by taking on Georgetown in a rare Friday night game, the first for Princeton since a 14-9 loss to Penn in 2008.
Though the Tigers’ (0-1) first game ended in defeat, they did have a very impressive second half in which they outscored the No. 13 Mountain Hawks 14-0, giving the team a boost heading into week two.
“I think that [momentum] carries over,” senior linebacker Andrew Starks said. “In halftime we made our adjustments. We had to execute better in the second half. Knowing that we have the capabilities of performing at that high level and not making mistakes is a huge pickup coming into this week.”
Not only is tonight’s game Princeton’s home opener, it will be broadcast on ESPNU, adding some extra excitement to an already big day.
“Playing at home is always fantastic, especially when you get the opportunity for a home opener to be a night game and on TV. All the guys are really excited about that,” Starks said. “Any time you’re playing at night, you get that high school feel to it — and you don’t get that very often, so I know everybody’s excited about that. When the lights come on, everybody just finds a new gear, and having that much more intensity just makes for a tremendous game atmosphere. Obviously you get some of that on Saturday, but it’s just not quite the same.”
Although the atmosphere may remind the players of former Friday night games, their opponent is no high school team. Georgetown (2-1) already has a couple of wins this year, and its only loss was by a mere three points against Yale last week. The Hoyas also have proven they can play on the road, winning 35-14 at Davidson in their opener.
“We’ve obviously seen a couple games on them, and they’re a sound team that likes to attack on the ground and has some deep threats as well,” Starks said. “We’re going to have to be fundamentally sound, as well as play calm, high-level, intelligent football.”
Princeton will have to focus on stopping Georgetown’s running game, as the Hoyas have nearly twice as many rushing yards as passing yards so far this season. The Tigers’ challenge will be stopping not one rusher, but several — the Hoyas have three different players with at least 100 rushing yards, including quarterback Aaron Aiken. Aiken actually leads the team in rushing attempts, but he has struggled a bit at throwing the ball, as he has only completed 44 percent of his passes and thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.
The Princeton defense should be up to the challenge, however, as the Tigers have a strong rush defense that finished third in the Ivy League last year. Starks, who led the team with 11 tackles last week, is a leader on that front, as are senior linemen Mike Catapano and Caraun Reid.
Offensively, the Tigers will have to try to rely a little more on their passing game as Georgetown’s defense has held its opponents to 2.6 rushing yards per game. The team hopes to take advantage of a weaker Hoyas pass defense in order to spark an aerial attack that struggled at Lehigh.
Princeton will try to earn its first victory of the season tonight at 7 p.m. in Princeton Stadium.
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Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/21/31187/