FOOTBALL: Keys to the game against Princeton

Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., the Bulldogs (5–3, 3–2 Ivy) will take on the Princeton Tigers (7–1, 5–0) in their last competition before The Game. The contest will air on ESPN3 and will take place in Princeton Stadium. In order to gain the edge over the Tigers, Yale must force turnovers, keep the ball on the ground and dominate on defense.

Keep forcing turnovers

Princeton’s offense is the most productive in the Ivy League, putting up an average of 44.3 points per game. Should the Tigers keep up this pace, they will go on to set the Ivy League record for highest points per game average in a season. The Tigers have averaged 31 minutes of possession per game, but they have fumbled the ball 12 times this season for seven losses. The Elis have also struggled with turnovers, fumbling 15 times and losing possession nine times. If the Elis can limit their own turnovers, then Yale can keep Princeton off the field by forcing turnovers themselves. The less time the Tigers have with the ball, the harder it will be for them to continue running their average of 88 plays per game that allow them to score more than any other Ivy.

Push the run

Over 57 percent of Princeton’s total offensive yards have come through the air, and each passing play they run that results in a catch averages 10.6 yards. When the Tigers choose to throw the ball they are effective. In addition, 25 of the Tigers’ 48 touchdowns have been the result of passing plays. The Tigers also have several quarterbacks that can throw the ball. Four quarterbacks have taken snaps in all eight games, although Quinn Epperly has the lion’s share of yards for the Tigers. Epperly has passed for 1668 yards at a completion rate of 74 percent this season. Additionally, he broke an FCS record two weeks ago when he completed his first 29 straight passes. Breaking up Epperly’s air game will be essential to an Eli victory tomorrow.

The defense

While Yale’s offense has put on an impressive performance this season, Princeton’s attack has been the most productive in the Ivy League. Keeping the Tigers from scoring will be a priority tomorrow. Yale has tallied a total of 2797 yards on the season, but the Tigers have racked up 4200 total offensive yards. Yale has intercepted the ball three more times this season than it did in 2012 and has 19 sacks. Pursuit of the quarterback and tight coverage will help give the Bulldogs the defensive edge necessary to top Princeton for the first time in two seasons.

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