PAW’s 2015 Princeton Football Preview

Chad Kanoff ’17, center, in action during his freshman season.
Chad Kanoff ’17, center, in action during his freshman season.
Beverly Schaefer
 

NEW FACES BEHIND CENTER: Princeton’s top two quarterbacks, Quinn Epperly ’15 and Connor Michelsen ’15, graduated in June, so the one guarantee this fall is that the Tigers will have a new starter. But who will win the job?

Three contenders emerged in the spring: Chad Kanoff ’17, a strong-armed thrower from Southern California who passed up a scholarship from Vanderbilt to play for Princeton; John Lovett ’18, whose build and skill-set remind coaches of a young Epperly; and Kedric Bostic ’16, a multi-talented runner, passer, and receiver who has the most game experience of the three.

Kanoff topped the preseason depth chart, thanks in part to a 15-for-20 passing performance in the Tigers’ March exhibition game against Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. But Offensive Coordinator James Perry and Head Coach Bob Surace ’90 had praise for all three players at the team’s preseason media day earlier this month.

Surace said that players who excel at the quarterback position often are those who can recall each play and explain why they made the decisions they made. “So many good players can do that — they can regurgitate plays that happened two years ago. Quinn could do that,” Surace said. “And I see the quarterbacks doing that right now. I hear them talking behind me and going through everything.”

AND A NEWCOMER AT CENTER: While the three quarterbacks were working on the passing game this summer, Tom Yetter ’16 was doing research in Panama, studying a small, disease-carrying insect — rhodnius pallescens — and its attraction to light. Yetter, an ecology and evolutionary biology major, hopes to build a senior thesis from that work. But first, he’d like to build a memorable year on the offensive line.

A career backup, Yetter has blossomed after an offseason move to the center position, according to Surace. Joining the starting lineup has helped the senior’s confidence and comfort level. “It’s definitely a maturing process,” Yetter said of his college career. “We have a fast-paced offense, and it takes a little time to adjust to thinking fast and playing fast.”

2015 CAPTAINS: Linebacker Matt Arends ’16 and wide receiver Seth DeValve ’16 will share the captains’ duties for Princeton this fall. 

Arends began his career playing cornerback — partly because of injuries at the position — and later moved into a starting safety spot. In the spring, he moved to linebacker, continuing his progression closer to the line. “Having that experience at safety and corner, I really understand the defense better now,” Arends said.

As a linebacker, Arends hopes to put his speed to good use. “I can be more aggressive,” he said. “I love hitting people. It’s always been one of my favorite things.”

While Arends may be slightly undersized at linebacker (6' 1'', 220 pounds), his captain counterpart is on the other end of the spectrum. At 6' 4'' and 245 pounds, DeValve looks more like a tight end than a receiver — but his size is a clear asset. “He’s a rare person in this league,” said Perry, the offensive coordinator. “You just don’t see guys who are that big who run like he does.”

DeValve missed eight games last year due to injuries and is looking to regain the form that made him one of the league’s top targets in 2013, when he caught 49 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns.

FOR KICKS: Princeton’s most seasoned player may be a senior who trots onto the field about a dozen times per game. Nolan Bieck ’16 is a four-year starter at placekicker and earned All-Ivy honors last year, when he converted 13 of 14 field-goal attempts and a perfect 30 of 30 extra points.

With few other placekickers on the roster during the last few years, the kicking life can be a lonely existence. “You get used to it after a while,” Bieck said with a laugh. “You become your own best friend.”

The limited distractions, he added, help him to focus — and three years of experience have improved his approach to kicking. As a freshman, Bieck said, he felt almost like he was afraid to miss: “Now when I go up there, I just go with the mindset that I’m going to hit the best ball that I can hit.”

PLAYING FAST: Surace is the son of a high school coach — and an accomplished one at that. In 25 years at Millville (N.J.) High, Tony Surace compiled a resume that landed him in the New Jersey Football Coaches Hall of Fame. But in those 25 years, the younger Surace says with a smile, he didn’t pay much attention to the passing game.

Today, high school coaches are employing sophisticated passing attacks and teaching quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers in summertime seven-on-seven drills. The results are clear as the well-drilled high schoolers make their way up into the college ranks.

“Everybody’s running these complicated offenses. A quarterback comes to us — John Lovett ’18 last year — and is just so far advanced,” Surace said. “These guys understand passing concepts so well.”

That’s great news for Perry, who runs an intricate, no-huddle offense. The downside? “It makes it really hard to play defense,” Surace said. To keep up with fast-paced passing teams, Princeton (and its Ivy peers) are constantly trying to add speed on the defensive side of the ball. As Jim Salgado, one of the Tigers’ co-defensive coordinators, said, “The days of two backs and two tight ends — there’s not a lot of that anymore.”

AROUND THE IVIES: Defending-champion Harvard (10-0 in 2014) held the top spot in the Ivy League’s 2015 preseason media poll, with Dartmouth ranked second and Yale third. Those were the three Ivy teams that defeated Princeton last season, when the Tigers finished 4-3 in league play and 5-5 overall. Princeton earned a fourth-place ranking in the poll, just ahead of Brown.

The Tigers open their league schedule Friday, Oct. 2 on national TV with a home game against Columbia, part of a Friday night Ivy series on NBC Sports Network. Surace’s teams have won their last four against the Lions, including blowout victories in the last three. This year, Columbia is led by former Penn coach Al Bagnoli.

NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: All three of Princeton’s nonconference games are against schools from the Patriot League, and all three teams — Lafayette, Lehigh, and Colgate — opened their seasons in the first weekend of September. Lehigh defeated Central Connecticut State, while Lafayette and Colgate both lost, to William & Mary and Navy, respectively.

READ MORE: Running back DiAndre Atwater ’16, son of an NFL star, aims to lead a Tiger resurgence this fall (from the Sept. 16 print issue)

PLAYING FAST: Surace is the son of a high school coach — and an accomplished one at that. In 25 years at Millville (N.J.) High, Tony Surace compiled a resume that landed him in the New Jersey Football Coaches Hall of Fame. But in those 25 years, the younger Surace says with a smile, he didn’t pay much attention to the passing game.

Today, high school coaches are employing sophisticated passing attacks and teaching quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers in summertime seven-on-seven drills. The results are clear as the well-drilled high schoolers make their way up into the college ranks.

“Everybody’s running these complicated offenses. A quarterback comes to us — John Lovett ’18 last year — and is just so far advanced,” Surace said. “These guys understand passing concepts so well.”

That’s great news for Perry, who runs an intricate, no-huddle offense. The downside? “It makes it really hard to play defense,” Surace said. To keep up with fast-paced passing teams, Princeton (and its Ivy peers) are constantly trying to add speed on the defensive side of the ball. As Jim Salgado, one of the Tigers’ co-defensive coordinators, said, “The days of two backs and two tight ends — there’s not a lot of that anymore.”

AROUND THE IVIES: Defending-champion Harvard (10-0 in 2014) held the top spot in the Ivy League’s 2015 preseason media poll, with Dartmouth ranked second and Yale third. Those were the three Ivy teams that defeated Princeton last season, when the Tigers finished 4-3 in league play and 5-5 overall. Princeton earned a fourth-place ranking in the poll, just ahead of Brown.

The Tigers open their league schedule Friday, Oct. 2 on national TV with a home game against Columbia, part of a Friday night Ivy series on NBC Sports Network. Surace’s teams have won their last four against the Lions, including blowout victories in the last three. This year, Columbia is led by former Penn coach Al Bagnoli.

NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: All three of Princeton’s nonconference games are against schools from the Patriot League, and all three teams — Lafayette, Lehigh, and Colgate — opened their seasons in the first weekend of September. Lehigh defeated Central Connecticut State, while Lafayette and Colgate both lost, to William & Mary and Navy, respectively.

READ MORE: Running back DiAndre Atwater ’16, son of an NFL star, aims to lead a Tiger resurgence this fall (from the Sept. 16 print issue)

(Projected starters in bold)

OFFENSE

QB - Chad Kanoff ’17

John Lovett ’18 or Kedric Bostic ’16

TB - Di Andre Atwater ’16

Dre Nelson ’16

FB - Joe Rhattigan ’17

Cody Smith ’19

WR - Seth DeValve ’16

Isaiah Barnes ’16

WR - James Frusciante ’17

Lawrence Wilson ’17

WR - Trevor Osborne ’17

Spencer Cotten ’18

TE - Scott Carpenter ’17

Travis McHugh ’16

LT - Spenser Huston ’16

Mason Darrow ’17

LG - Jack Woodall ’16

Caleb Slate ’16

C - Tom Yetter ’16

Richard Bush ’18

RG - Britt Colgolough ’16

Jack Knight ’17

RT - Mitchell Sweigart ’18

Zach Kuehm ’18

DEFENSE

DE - Ty Desire ’17

Khalil Bryant ’18

NG - Henry Schlossberg ’17

Dan Dreher ’16

DE - Kurt Holuba ’18

Brannon Jones ’17

OLB - Marcus Stroud ’16

Birk Olson ’17

WIL - R.J. Paige ’17

Scott Northcutt ’17

MLB - Rohan Hylton ’17

Luke Catarius ’17 or Mark Fossati ’18

SAM - Matt Arends ’16

Quincy Wolff ’18

CB - Anthony Gaffney ’16

Markus Phox ’17

SS - Khamal Brown ’16

Durelle Napier ’17

FS - Dorian Williams ’17

Max Lescano ’17

CB - John Hill ’16

James Gales ’17

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK - Nolan Bieck ’16

P/H - Tyler Roth ’17

LS - Pat Hall ’18

PR/KR - Max Lescano ’17

KR - Dre Nelson ’16

MLB - Rohan Hylton ’17

Luke Catarius ’17 or Mark Fossati ’18

SAM - Matt Arends ’16

Quincy Wolff ’18

CB - Anthony Gaffney ’16

Markus Phox ’17

SS - Khamal Brown ’16

Durelle Napier ’17

FS - Dorian Williams ’17

Max Lescano ’17

CB - John Hill ’16

James Gales ’17

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK - Nolan Bieck ’16

P/H - Tyler Roth ’17

LS - Pat Hall ’18

PR/KR - Max Lescano ’17

KR - Dre Nelson ’16

Sept. 19 — at Lafayette, 6 p.m.
Radio: WPRB

Sept. 26 — Lehigh, 5 p.m.
Online: Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Oct. 2 — Columbia, 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: WPRB

Oct. 10 — Colgate, 1 p.m.
Online: Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Oct. 17 — at Brown, noon
TV/Online: American Sports Network/Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Oct. 24 — at Harvard, noon
TV/Online: American Sports Network/Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Oct. 31 — Cornell, 3:30 p.m.
TV/Online: American Sports Network/Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Nov. 7 — at Penn, noon
TV/Online: American Sports Network/Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Nov. 14 — Yale, 1 p.m.
Online: Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB

Nov. 21 — at Dartmouth, noon
TV/Online: American Sports Network/Ivy League Digital Network; Radio: WPRB