It could be an offensive year in Ivy League

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - To new Princeton head football coach Bob Surace, the golden words that James Perry used this past winter in describing his philosophy while he interviewed for the position of offensive coordinator were "fast and physical."

Surace and Cornell's Kent Austin, who also is debuting as an Ivy League coach, might want to strap on their seatbelts. This could be a season for the offenses in the Ivy League.

The three teams that finished 1-2-3 in scoring within Ivy League play last season were ranked in that order today in the league's preseason media poll, with Harvard first, defending champion Penn second and Brown third. Each has key returning offensive players, but the offensive talent is vast across the league.

In the reverse of a year ago, six of the league's eight teams return their top quarterback. Also, the top five rushers are back this season.

Meanwhile, 14 players made an expanded All-Ivy first-team defense last year, and only Harvard safety Colin Zych and Yale cornerback Adam Money are back this season.

Three Key Games
Harvard at Brown, Sept. 25 - Brown Stadium (built in 1925) will host its first night game when rival Harvard makes the short trip to Providence, R.I. The Crimson have plenty of offensive weapons, but Brown returns the All-Ivy League QB in Kyle Newhall-Caballero.

Harvard at Penn, Nov. 13 - The Ivy powers have combined for 10 of the last 13titles (Harvard shared the 2008 title with Brown). The defending champion Quakers will look to control this game with their rushing attack.

Yale at Harvard, Nov. 20 - The Game" is arguably the biggest rivalry in theFCS even though Ivy League teams do not go to the FCS playoffs. Yale's upset bid was lost last year after an ill-advised 4th-and-22 fake punt late in the game. The Bulldogs still lead the series, 65-53-8, through 126 meetings.

Surace returns to Princeton 21 years after being the senior center on an Ivy League championship squad. The 42-year-old spent two seasons as the head coach at Western Connecticut State and was an offensive assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Austin, 47, never played or coached in the Ivy League, spending 15 seasons in the CFL and the last two as offensive coordinator at Ole Miss.

Their offensive backgrounds fit in well with what could be an intriguing race. Their coaching brethren were happy to fill them in on the rest of what to expect out of the Ivy League's style of play.

"It's almost an awakening that there's some great coaches here that do a lot," Brown's Phil Estes said. "Sometimes you get at big-time schools and you can basically be very basic in your offense and defense and be able to win. I think in the Ivy League you have coaches that really do their homework. They need to be prepared for each and every week for something different and something new and some kind of new wrinkle that's gonna go in. These guys know it, though.

"It used to be you could look at the schedule and kind of pinpoint different games that you think might be a 'W'. I don't think you can do that in the Ivy League. From top to bottom, it's going to be a tough game each and every game."

"People seem to be going wholesale to spreading you out and trying to make you cover the whole field," Columbia's Norries Wilson said. "The issue I see with that is you spend so much time trying to figure out ways to spread people out and sometimes you forget those guys on defense get paid to coach as well. So someone tinkers with something and you spend a lot of time doing it. But the spread-out game kind of makes it a little bit like basketball on the turf there."

Added Harvard's Tim Murphy, "I think it's going to very versatile, very multiple, a lot of different things. To some extent, I think that's consistent with most leagues.

"They're going to see a lot of different things."

The league's returning quarterbacks are led by Brown senior Kyle Newhall- Caballero, the first-team selection last season. Also back are Harvard's Collier Winters, Penn's Keiffer Garton, Yale's Patrick Witt, Princeton's Tommy Wornham and Dartmouth's Conner Kempe. Columbia will turn to sophomore Sean Brackett, while Austin has three candidates at Cornell, junior Adam Currie, sophomore Chris Amrhein and freshman Jeff Mathews.

Among running backs, Dartmouth workhorse Nick Schwieger could repeat as the Ivy rushing champion, though last year's No. 2 rusher, Brown's Zach Tronti, will be in the mix. Harvard's Gino Gordon and Treavor Scales, who were third and fourth, respectively, and Penn's Lyle Marsh, who was fifth, also are back this season.

Besides Zych and Money, some of the top defensive players trying to slow the offenses are Princeton linebacker Steven Cody and Brown cornerback A.J. Cruz.


1. Harvard (10 first-place votes), 128 points
2. Penn (6), 124
3. Brown, 95
4. Yale (1), 83
5. Columbia, 61
6. Princeton, 55
7. Dartmouth, 39
8. Cornell, 27

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

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