Coming into this season, starting quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11 had never thrown a varsity pass. His teammates, opposing coaches and even his position coach agreed that Newhall lacked one key attribute: experience.
"Until the bullets are real, it's very hard to simulate," said Quarterbacks Coach James Perry '00.
Last weekend, Newhall-Caballero gained a considerable amount of experience, passing 61 times in a win against Holy Cross, who was ranked No. 19 in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Newhall-Caballero has passed 173 times in just four games, more than anyone else in the Ivy League.
This weekend — home again for a 12:37 p.m. game against Princeton — he will likely face plenty of live bullets.
"They bring a lot of heat on the quarterback," said Newhall-Caballero of the Tigers. "They pressure something like 70 percent of the time."
Newhall-Caballero said he is excited to face the pressure because it will leave vulnerabilities in the secondary.
"We've got to get a good pass rush," said Princeton Head Coach Roger Hughes. "We can't allow him to run around and avoid pressure to buy time for his receivers to get open."
Despite passing more often than any other team in the Ivy League, the Bears (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) have only given up five sacks all season, tied for the fewest in the Ancient Eight.
Last week Newhall-Caballero had a breakout game, going 46-of-61 passing for 431 yards and two touchdowns. He added 14 yards and a touchdown on the ground. For his record-breaking performance, Newhall-Caballero was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award Winner and a College Sporting News National All-Star.
Newhall-Caballero now leads the Ivy League in passing yards, (1,093) total offense (1,191) and touchdown passes (9). He leads the nation in completions per game, with 28.5.
Wide receiver Bobby Sewall '10 — who had 14 catches against Holy Cross — said he hasn't been surprised by Newhall-Caballero's play this season.
"There was no question from our end whether Newhall would be able to step in and do well," Sewall said. "Everybody knew. We've all taken snaps with Kyle."
But Newhall-Caballero said he is still learning, though he has "developed quite a bit," in his short career.
Both Sewall and Newhall-Caballero said Perry deserved credit for much of the quarterback's development, especially in his ability to read defenses.
"Coach Perry has worked with him day in and day out, just drilling in coverages and everything," Sewall said. "Coach Perry has done an unbelievable job with Kyle."
Sewall is just one of the many receiving threats for the Bears this season. Pre-season All-American Buddy Farnham '10 has 27 receptions for 286 yards on the season. And Trevan Samp, the Ivy League leader in receiving yards, had 15 catches for 206 yards against Holy Cross.
"We've got weapons everywhere," Newhall-Caballero said. "Our running backs catch the ball well, too. It's easy for me."
Newhall-Caballero's biggest trouble this season has been his interceptions — he leads the league with seven. But he said he has been working hard in practice for the last couple of weeks to try to eliminate his turnovers. He had just one interception last week. He said he is trying to take fewer chances and just take what the defense gives him.
Although Newhall-Caballero will likely pass often this weekend against Princeton (1-3, 0-1), he shouldn't find himself in a quarterback duel like last week.
Princeton has a more balanced offensive attack than Holy Cross, but the Tigers still look to the air often.
Sophomore quarterback Tommy Wornham took over the starting job for the Tigers this year and has led an offense that is last in the league in scoring, with only 9.5 points per game.
The Tigers have scored only three times out of their nine chances in the red zone this year.
After getting blown out 38-0 by Columbia, Princeton fell to FCS No. 17 Colgate last week, 21-14, in double overtime.
Linebackers Steven Cody and Scott Britton, the top two tacklers in the Ivy League, led the Tigers' defense, which held Colgate to only seven points in regulation.
"They've always been very good defensively," Estes said. "They're very aggressive."
But Princeton will face an entirely different offense from last week. Colgate, the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation, likes to run it up the gut, but Brown's spread offense focuses on the pass.
Both Princeton and Brown are 0-1 in the Ivy League and will probably need to win out if they want to have a shot at the Ivy League title.
"I think our kids know that this is a must-win for both teams," Hughes said. "It's very difficult to win the league with two losses."