The Bulldogs fell to the Tigers by 15 points on Saturday after a lengthy weather delay in New Jersey. Yale’s opportunity to remain tied for first place in the Ivy League was erased and the road to a title now requires a win versus Harvard and losses by both Princeton and Dartmouth in their final contests.
The offense’s inability to sustain drives was the key factor in this devastating loss. Grooms completed just 38.9% of his passes for 102 yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The inaccuracy of Grooms was on full display with passes overthrown, underthrown or simply thrown directly to opponents. The offensive line could not handle Princeton’s aggressive blitz packages forcing Grooms to run for his life on most passing downs. This was a contest in which Yale needed to come up with big plays on offense and each opportunity was squandered in the second half. Two potential scoring plays with receivers streaking past defenders were lost to poorly placed passes, while a perfect deep throw to Howland was dropped. Alston had a decent outing in the ground game averaging 4.6 yards per carry yet after the disastrous defensive effort in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Yale was forced to become one dimensional in an attempt to stage a comeback. The play calling never evolved to aid a rattled Grooms and instead placed the inexperienced signal caller in unfavorable high-pressure scenarios. Had Reno managed the clock properly, some of the pressure could have been alleviated which would have boosted Yale’s odds.
While the defense came up with big plays early on to keep the Bulldogs alive in this contest, compounded errors in the 2nd and 3rd quarters allowed Princeton to establish a commanding lead. In the ground game, there was no containment from the defensive ends and the linebackers and defensive backs took poor pursuit angles that washed them out of the plays. Princeton’s Cole Smith had his way with Yale’s secondary throwing for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensive backs routinely blew coverages, held receivers and refused to turn their heads to play the ball in the air. Smith was sacked 3 times but overall, the Tigers’ offensive line held up much better in this contest than they had versus Harvard and Dartmouth. The defensive preparation from the coaching staff leading into this contest was clearly lackluster as Surace’s offense found success with the same base plays that we should have studied on film.
The performance of the special teams units was one of the lone bright spots of this contest. Our punt return team blocked a Princeton punt that set-up the offense in great field position. Bosman was perfect on field goal attempts and PAT’s while still averaging 37.5 yards per punt in poor weather conditions. If this game had come down to special teams as the deciding factor, the Bulldogs could have prevailed with a victory, however, the offensive and defensive units were outplayed and outcoached to such an extent that the special teams’ performance only served to keep this contest closer.