Full of hopes of emulating last year’s success, Princeton football will start its season with a trip across the country to face the University of San Diego. Coming off the first football Ivy League title the Tigers have seen in seven years, they will now embark on their first trip to California since 2004, looking to start their season with a win.
Though it is the norm for teams such as water polo and volleyball to make annual trips out to the West Coast to play in tournaments, this is the first time football’s 53-man travel roster will be making the trip. However, this is a “business trip,” maintains senior quarterback and co-captain Quinn Epperly.
Epperly earned the title of co-captain after a record-breaking 2013 season, in which he was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and set a Division I record with 29 straight completions in Princeton’s 53-20 victory over Cornell. He is joined as co-captain by All-Ivy linebacker and fellow senior Mike Zeuli, who led the Tigers in tackles last season with 72, including 18 in the 2013 season opener against Lehigh.
This is only the second time the Tigers have visited San Diego, Calif., and only the third time that the two squads have faced each other.
“I don’t think [the unfamiliarity] really changes the dynamic much,” Epperly said. “It’s kinda the same pattern — you come in, watch film, get a read on them all throughout the week and then practice against what they do, just as we would any other team, so really it’s the same old thing. I mean traveling out there is maybe a little bit different, but it’s something that’s exciting.”
The Tigers were ranked first in the annual Ivy League poll, beating Harvard by one point in the voting. However, no team predicted to take the title by this preseason poll has actually done so in a decade. In order to do so, the Tigers will have to play a near-perfect season, a mindset they already seem to have adopted.
“We consider this just as important as every other game. We don’t want to lose a game; we want to go undefeated,” Epperly said. “We just want to play as fast as we can and use our tempo to wear down every team, and then attack them in the holes they present.”
The Tigers have always prided themselves on playing by the motto “fast and physical,” but this year they will be trying to play even faster than they have before, according to Epperly. They hope to set the tone for the season during this trip to California.
“Going out to California will be a fun experience, but we’re just treating it as we do every other week,” Epperly added. “It’s a business trip, and we’re going out there to win a game.”
The Tigers will take on the Toreros on Saturday at 4 p.m. E.S.T. in San Diego. The game will be broadcast on WPRB 103.3 FM.