#27 Princeton FCS Football 2014 Preview

Princeton Tigers

Overall Rank: #27
#1 Ivy League

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In between their season opening loss to Lehigh and the season finale loss at Dartmouth, Princeton reeled off eight wins in a row. And most of those contests were not even close. But that loss to Dartmouth cost Princeton an outright Ivy League title and the 6-1 conference mark was only enough to tie Harvard atop the standings. For the most part the potent Tigers offense was too much for the rest of the league and the story should be the same in 2014.

2013 Record: 8-2, 6-1
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Bob Surace (15-25 at Princeton, 15-25 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: James Perry
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Verbit, Jim Salgado

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Quinn Epperly, QB, 570 yards
Passing: Quinn Epperly, QB, 2,137 yards
Receiving: Matt Costello, WR, 534 yards
Tackles: Mike Zeuli, LB, 72
Sacks: Mike Zeuli, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: John Hill, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Seth DeValve, WR Connor Kelley, RB Di Andre Atwater, QB Connor Michelsen, OL Spenser Huston, DB Max Lescano, DB Anthony Gaffney, DB Matt Arends, LB Garrit Leicht, DB Dorian Williams, K Nolan Bieck

Key Losses: WR Roman Wilson, TE Des Smith, RB Brian Mills, OL Max Coale, OL Joe Goss, DL Caraun Reid, DB Elijah Mitchell, DB Phillip Bhaya, LB Jason Ray, DL Matt Landry

Quarterback Quinn Epperly had an absolutely amazing junior season and the expectations are through the roof for his senior campaign. He threw for 2,137 yards and 25 touchdowns, but even more impressively completed 68.0 percent of his passes and was intercepted just three times. Epperly also led the team with 570 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. Epperly may need a little time to adjust to life without receiver Roman Wilson, who caught 86 passes for 919 yards and 11 touchdowns, but there are plenty of returning options and it should not take long for somebody else to turn into Epperly’s favorite target. Seth DeValve and Matt Costello are both big, experienced seniors who combined to catch 97 passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns. Connor Kelley emerged as a solid option in the red zone and he recorded six touchdown receptions on his own. Princeton does not neglect the ground game either. Di Andre Atwater, son of former Denver Bronco great Steve Atwater, rushed for 457 yards as a sophomore and will be the main back for Princeton.

Caraun Reid is a big loss for the defensive line and there are quite a few other holes that need to be filled as well. This is a team that averaged 3.70 sacks per game and a new look line will not likely put up similar numbers this season. Linebacker Mike Zeuli is no stranger to picking up sacks though and he is also the team’s top tackler with 72 stops. Garrit Leicht will be able to step into more of a leadership role from his linebacker spot during his senior season. The secondary returns plenty of experience with John Hill, Anthony Gaffney, Matt Arends and Dorian Williams leading the way, but this is a team that can get beaten through the air relatively easily if the rest of the team is not getting into the backfield.

The Bottom Line:
With non-conference games against San Diego, Davidson and Colgate, the Tigers could be looking at an even better season in 2014. Coming off of a nice win in Cambridge last season, Princeton does get Harvard at home. Barring any major surprises, this is a team that will be favored in every game they play. It is far too early to talk about undefeated seasons, but everything is shaping up early for a perfect 10-0.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 217.8 (19th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 293.8 (12, 2)
Total Offense: 511.6 (8, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.7 (2, 1)
Rushing Defense: 126.5 (22, 2)
Pass Defense: 219.2 (55, 3)
Total Defense: 345.7 (26, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.6 (46, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (6, 2)
Sacks: 3.70 (3, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.80 (8, 2)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#1 Kurt Holuba
#25 David Hartmeier
#30 John Lovett
#74 Logan Dziak


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