Coming off two tough losses to the University of Rhode Island and Holy Cross, the football team (2-2, 1-0 Ivy League) will look to rebound this Saturday, when it returns to conference play against Princeton (1-3, 0-1 Ivy). It will be the team's second game after losing starting quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11 for the season to a broken wrist.
"When you lose your All-Ivy quarterback and leader," said Head Coach Phil Estes, "we have to kind of revamp things a little bit."
Joe Springer '11 and Patrick Donnelly '13 have both seen playing time under center in relief of Newhall-Caballero. Springer has played in all four games this season, accumulating a stat line of 322 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. In last week's loss to Holy Cross, Springer was the starter, but Donnelly spent the majority of the game taking snaps and "gave us a spark," according to Estes.
They're "two different types of quarterbacks," Estes said. "Joe is a traditional drop-back guy and Patrick is a guy that likes to be on the move and do some things with his feet. If one gets hot, we may stay with him, but it's still something in the making right now."
While the quarterback situation has been in flux, Alex Tounkara '11 has been rock solid for the Bears in 2010 in the wide receiver position. The senior has posted three 100-yard games and ranks in the top five in the Football Championship Subdivision for receptions (8.0 per game) and receiving yards (108.0 per game). Tounkara said that in football, it's always difficult for an offense to adjust to three different quarterbacks and that this is something the Bears are working to overcome.
"We've had a slight lack of chemistry, but that comes with time," Tounkara said. "Every day in practice it's getting better."
With Saturday's matchup, the Bears are entering the key stretch of the season—the remaining six games on the schedule are Ivy League contests.
"Every game is a championship game," Tounkara said. "Every game we lose could cost us a title. We have to focus and get back on track and remember what we came here to do."
Princeton has struggled this season, but Brown knows that they are still in line for a hard-fought conference game.
"Princeton is a very dangerous football team," Estes said. "They do a lot of different things, have a lot of formations, a lot of personnel groupings, and they give you a lot you have to prepare for. ... If they catch fire, they're going to do some damage."
The Tigers' pass-heavy offense features the Ivy League's leading receiver, Trey Peacock. Linebackers Jon Olofsson and Andrew Starks rank in the top five in the conference in tackles, but overall, Princeton has been porous on the defensive side of the ball, allowing over 30 points in each game this season.
An interesting subplot to the game is the presence of James Perry '00, Princeton's offensive coordinator. Perry was Brown's quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons before accepting the Princeton job this offseason. As a Brown player, Perry became the Ivy League's all-time passing leader and led the Bears to a league title in 1999.
Estes said he does not believe that Perry's experience with Brown's system will give Princeton an advantage.
"He's just as familiar with us as we are with him," Estes said. "I'm sure he's going to put some wrinkles in there to change that up, just as we'll do the same thing."
What is certain about Saturday's game is that it will have significant Ivy League implications for both teams. A win for Brown would keep them undefeated in the conference, while a win for Princeton would put them right back into the race. For both sides, the matchup is an essential must-win.
"We need to just focus on this week," Tounkara said. "Don't worry about the championship. Worry about the team we're facing this week."