Princeton football’s last two wins have been characterized not by flashy offensive numbers, but by stifling defensive play. Two weeks ago, against Columbia, Princeton held the Lions to 206 yards of total offense and 10 points, and last week against Lafayette, the Tigers allowed 162 yards of offense and three points. As the Tigers (4–0, 1–0 Ivy) begin a stretch of six consecutive Ivy League games at Brown (1–3, 0–1) this Saturday, they’ll need to continue that trend.
“This isn’t a team that might just roll over everybody,” said head coach Bob Surace ’90. “This is a team that’s going to have to grind a little more.”
Princeton’s most dominant defensive player over that stretch has been junior linebacker Jeremiah Tyler. In the past two games, he’s recorded 16 total tackles, six tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. He’s wreaked havoc in opponents’ backfields and arguably made the play of the game against Lafayette with a tackle for no-gain on a fourth-and-one play on the Lafayette 29-yard line to get the Princeton defense off the field.
“I was happy to see we were flying to the ball,” Tyler said after the Lafayette win. “I’m just trying to lead my guys to a victory each and every week ... There’s a lot of great competition that we’re going to go against [in the Ivy League], so we’ve just got to band together and stay strong.”
And, according to his head coach, Tyler has become a spark plug for the defense.
“[Tyler] makes you tick,” Surace said after the Lafayette game. “I thought our energy was so good, and [the team] feeds off him … He has that personality that makes the team respond.”
Tyler and the rest of the Princeton defense will be challenged this Saturday by Brown quarterback EJ Perry. A transfer from Boston College, Perry has averaged 250.5 yards passing and 93.5 rushing in his first four games as the Brown starter, although he’s thrown five interceptions in the past two games.
Perry also happens to be the nephew of first-year Brown head coach James Perry, who worked under Surace as Princeton’s offensive coordinator for seven years. While at Princeton, James Perry helped lead the Tigers to two Ivy League Championships, including a 2013 season in which Princeton averaged 43.7 points per game and 511.6 yards per game.
The Bears haven’t had much trouble scoring in James Perry’s first year at the helm, but they’ve been less successful at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. Brown has given up 37.5 points per game this season, and it hasn’t once held an opponent under 30 points. Princeton’s offense — including senior quarterback Kevin Davidson, who’s completed 72.6 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 touchdowns to just one interception — will undoubtedly be looking to capitalize on that weakness.
The game against Brown will begin at 12:30 p.m. in Providence, R.I., and can be streamed via ESPN+ or listened to via WPRB 103.3 FM.