Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Opponent Preview: Princeton

John Lovett

Columbia fans weren’t fooled by the official tie for the Ivy League Football championship last season between Princeton and Penn. Based on the Lions’ experience of getting badly blown out at home vs. the Tigers as opposed to playing the Quakers pretty tough in Philly, there was no doubt that Princeton was the better team.

Oh and throw in the fact that Princeton totally obliterated Penn in their head-to-head matchup by 28-0 last year, and the point really gets hammered home.

So is the week 3 Ivy League opener at Princeton a lost cause for Columbia?

Not so fast, my friends.


The fabulous offense is bringing back its top weapons going to be without the tandem of Chad Kanoff and John Lovett for at least some portion of the season. Kanoff is the traditional QB while Lovett splits his time at QB, RB, and WR. But Lovett, the 2016 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year, is going to be out for some portion of the season because of a problem in recovering from off season surgery. He may a lot or all of the season, actually. 

But top rusher Charlie Volker is back and so is 4/5 of the starting O-line, including the three O-linemen who made either the 1st, 2nd or Honorable Mention All Ivy rosters. The best of those linemen is Mitch Sweigart who was a machine against the Lions last year.

Excellent TE Scott Carpenter has graduated along with the rest of the leading pure WR’s from last season, but this offense looks like it will be the best in the Ivies in 2017 anyway. 


The problem, or the opportunity for Columbia this fall, is that the Tigers are really getting gutted on defense by graduation. The only starter coming back is the excellent DL Kurt Holuba, who was shut down against Columbia by the now-graduated Kendall Pace last year. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many graduation losses on either side of the ball for a single Ivy team, let alone a championship team. Dartmouth suffered massive losses from its 2015 co-championship team to last season, but those losses were more spread out over the offense and defense. 


Princeton’s excellent Punter Tyler Roth has graduated, but decent placekicker Tavish Rice returns for his sophomore season. Princeton was not an especially good return team last year, so I expect some new names to be in the mix fielding punts and kickoffs.

Under Head Coach Bob Surace, Princeton has been inconsistent from one year to the next. And by that pattern, you'd have to expect a significant drop off this season. 

But Kanoff and Lovett will assure that Princeton contends for the title again this fall. They're just that good. Still, the Lions should have a chance to beat them if they bring their “A” game to Powers Field. That’s opposed to last year when even if they brought their “AAA” game to the Princeton contest, they still wouldn’t have had a chance.

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