Looking ahead: Princeton University football coach Bob Sures directed the game at a game last fall. Last fall, Soureth led Princeton to a 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League record with Dartmouth for the league title and a fourth Ivy League crown in the past eight seasons. The Tigers will start their 2022 campaign on Sept. 17 at Stetson (2-0). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
TonHis practice analysis tells Bob Surace that his Princeton football team is picking up speed in preparation for the 2022 campaign.
“We’re doing a lot of measurements, and we wear these straps to show our speed and distance,” said Princeton head coach Surez, whose team heads south to Stetson (2-0) on Sept. 17. , thus starting the season. “When I look at the numbers and stats, wow, we have so many people running at 20 miles per hour. We have some really good teams, but we’re not that athletic.”
With that pace, the Tigers are bringing intensity to their preseason training camp.
“We run to the ball, our pursuit, our effort, they’ve done a good job in that, and that’s a good sign,” said Surez, whose team went 9-1, 6-1 last fall. The Ivy League tied Dartmouth for the league title and won the Ivy League title for the fourth time in the past eight seasons.
“We’re planning more so we’re putting in more games. The fact that their level of effort is there and they’re doing a good job of keeping things in line with things is really nice. I think we get along Good. We had a real spring dance this year that we missed last year. Both of our skill sets are running well. We’re deep on the line and the line is really competitive.”
While there is plenty of optimism, Surace admits there are some areas of concern.
“We are inexperienced in the defensive back, we show a lot in attacking formations and movements; communication so far It’s really good,” Surace said. “I’ll have a better feel for that group when we put everything in. How they handle that part, but they’re digesting it, they’re communicating. That part was really good. Offenses always take longer to come together. We throw a lot of stuff at them and they’re dealing with it. “
At quarterback, junior Blake Stenstrom (44 passing, 74 rushing, 2 TDs in 2021), senior Joe Hutchison, sophomore Brian McAllister and sophomore Nico VanGarelli (30 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns) are battling for the starting spot to handle the offense.
“Blake came on last year and played really well; he had a really good spring and he’s carried it over,” Surace said. “Joe was the typical freshman, like our current freshman, lost as a quarterback. He lost his sophomore year with the coronavirus. He made a big leap his junior year, and now his Great pitching and decision making. Bryan got the freshman/sophomore jumping. These three guys really stand out. Niko does a great job on some situational things. He had 3 last year Touchdowns, and some big first touchdowns.”
A pair of senior wide receivers, Andrei Iosivas (41 catches, 703 yards and 5 TDs) and senior Dylan Classi (35 catches, 621 yards and 3 TDs), and senior tight end Carson Bobo (17 catches) Balls, 147 yards and 2 TDs) figures played a major role in the Princeton Raid.
“For guys like Andre, Classy and Pop, we’re going to want to throw it out,” Sures said. “These guys were at some level in all the conferences last year.”
Other options for catchers include junior Jojo Hawkins, sophomore AJ Barber, sophomore Tamatoa Falatea and senior Mike Axelrood.
“We lost Birm (Jacob Birmelin), but JoJo and AJ came out on top. Tamatoa came back from Mormon assignment. He played as a freshman. He was rusted, but he’s starting to get rid of the rust there. Mike is in great shape. Well, he’s trying to play.”
Iosivas has the athleticism and skill to become the Tigers’ next great receiver.
“He came out last year as a higher-level route runner, not just an athlete,” said 6-foot-3, 200-pound Iosivas’ Surace, an All-American in the indoor heptathlon for the Tiger track team .
“We’ve got a lot of players that scouts want to see; we probably won’t have a lot of workouts without scouts watching him, and he’s just been put on the Senior Bowl watch list.”
On the running back side, the injury to star guard Colin Eddy at Dartmouth last season has given some young players some experience that should pay off this fall. Sophomore John Walker (126 rushing yards, 2 IDs), sophomore Jadriskar (119 rushing yards, 1 TD) and senior Davis Klein (34 rushing yards) are all in 2021 comes with a flash.
“John really did his part and Ja’Derris did a really good job,” Surace said. “It allowed them to expand their game. Davis played a role.”
Senior Henry Bird, senior Conor Scaglione, junior Jaren Travis, senior Blake Feigenspan and senior Zach Zambrano will anchor the Tigers’ offensive line.
“If they end up being the starters, we’ll have some young guys who look pretty good who end up in the rotation,” Surez noted.
On the defensive line, senior Cole Aubrey and senior Uche Ndukwe will lead the charge.
“Our D line is really deep right now,” Surace said. “Cole was a master last year. Uche was a master before his injury. We had some young guys jumping, so it’s interesting to see that.”
Princeton is facing a huge vacancy at linebacker, with standout Jeremiah Tyler, winner of last year’s Bushnell Cup and the Ivy League Defensive of the Year with All-American honors player. Senior Anthony Corbyn, senior Joseph Bonczek, junior Liam Johnson, junior Ozzie Nicholas and senior Will Perez will lead the division.
“We had a good game with Anthony and Joseph at the linebacker, they both played a lot,” Surez said. “Liam and Ozzie have played special teams and they’re working really hard right now. Will has had a really good spring. There’s only one JT and nobody’s going to fill his spot, so we’re going to use multiple guys. This Guy hits like JT, this guy is good at covering, or this guy blitzes. We’re going to have to go through the committee to sort that out.”
While minor work is underway, Surace is confident in the group.
“Those guys are very athletic,” Sures said. “One of the things we didn’t have all this experience last year was you didn’t see the big drama. Maybe a guy gave up the pass because his body was beaten. They weren’t mentally wrong and we had to do that because you can’t give up Easy yardage.”
Soureth and his coaches are happy to get players up to speed in the preseason, enjoying teachable moments before heading into the weekly grind of the regular season.
“When we’re getting ready for Stetson, we’re making a game plan and focusing on Stetson, you lose a little bit of being a teacher,” Surace said. “It’s being a teacher now, which is really what our coaches love to do. Now, it’s the fundamentals, seeing young people who are freshmen and now sophomores. That part is really exciting. “
The Tigers are hoping for an exciting and productive trip to Florida this weekend as they face an undefeated Stetson (2-0) team to kick off the 2022 season.
“You want to have different away games, but it’s important to play in countries where we have alumni and where we recruit,” said Surace, whose team beat Stetson 63-0 in their second game of the season last year . “It’s Stetson this year, I think next year it’s San Diego, and the next year it’s Mercer, so we have three in a row.”