Last season, 10 of the 28 Ivy League football games were decided by a touchdown or less, but despite the close outcomes, the usual suspects rose to the top of the standings in November: Penn, Harvard, and Brown. Since 2000, those three schools have won or shared the Ivy crown in every year except one, 2006, when Princeton and Yale split the title.
Defending-champion Penn swept its league games last year and looks poised for another strong season, with 15 starters returning. Harvard’s well-balanced squad edged the Quakers for top billing in the Ivy’s preseason media poll, and Brown and Yale followed the two favorites in third and fourth place, respectively. Princeton was ranked sixth.
Tigers coach Bob Surace ’90 said that last year, Princeton lacked the consistency to be a top-flight team. In spring practices, coaches addressed a few key areas, including improving coverage in the defensive secondary, and fall practices have placed extra emphasis on conditioning, an important element in Surace’s plan to run an up-tempo offense.
STEVE CODY ’11, inside linebacker
Cody, one of the Ivy League’s top NFL prospects, led the league in tackles last season (11.6 per game). Surace said the defensive captain’s next challenge will be to turn some of those tackles into turnovers. In 2009, the Tigers ranked last among Ivy teams in forcing fumbles.
TREY PEACOCK ’11, wide receiver
Peacock turned in memorable performances against Colgate and Dartmouth last season and had a breakout year overall, catching 48 passes for 527 yards (both team highs). He leads a deep and experienced corps of receivers that may be the Princeton offense’s greatest strength.
MATT BOYER ’11, defensive tackle
At 6 feet 5 inches and 285 pounds, Boyer has the size and strength to plug holes on the defensive line – a crucial job in a league where the two top teams, Harvard and Penn, averaged about 40 rushing plays per game last year. “If he becomes more consistent, he can be one of the best D-linemen in the league,” Surace said.
TOMMY WORNHAM ’12, quarterback
In his first year as a starter, Wornham’s passing numbers were fairly pedestrian, but his impact on the offense was significant. He threw or ran for 10 of the team’s 14 offensive touchdowns and had his most efficient performances in October and November. “We feel really good about [the quarterback] spot going into the year,” Surace said.