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Princeton Upbeat, Wornham set at QB
Tigers have new confidence
Bob Surace has one advantage a lot of first-year head coaches don’t always get, a returning starter at quarterback.
And Surace also has another advantage because starting quarterback Tommy Wornham has already established himself as a leader on the Princeton University football team.
”There is always progress when you are talking about a starting quarterback,” Surace said of Wornham, a junior who started all 10 games for the Tigers a year ago. “From year one to year two the game slows down. There is also a confidence about him. Whenever he is in workouts or on the field there is a leadership he has taken. It helps when one of your top players is in as good a shape as anyone on your team.”
While Wornham returns as a starter for the Tigers, he’ll be playing in an entirely new offensive system. Roger Hughes was fired after a third straight 4-6 season a year ago, and when Surace was hired as the new head coach, a new offensive coaching staff came in with him.
”There is a lot of energy this year,” Wornham said. “A lot of discipline has been instilled in the off-season. And the pace at which we’re playing right now is different. They preach fast and physical from the very beginning. On offense we’re playing faster than I have every even come close to playing before.”
The Tigers open the season on Saturday at Lehigh with their faster offense. Wornham hopes to continue to build on the progress he made as a sophomore, when he completed nearly 57 percent of his passes and threw for over 1,600 yards.
”You see more poise and better decision making,” Surace said of his quarterback, who also led the Tigers in rushing yards last year. “Even in the spring there was a comfort level. He finished well last season and that gave him confidence going into the spring. Having a coordinator with the pedigree of James Perry has certainly helped him.”
Wornham knows he needs to learn a whole new system this season. But he’s confident that with the year of experience he gained last year as well as the coaching philosophy of the new staff that he can have another productive season.
”Everything is coming together,” said Wornham, who returns his top three receivers from a year ago in Trey Peacock, Andrew Kerr and Matt Zimmerman. “I’ve done a lot of work with Coach Perry, so I really understand our system and what we’re doing. So it makes the reads a lot easier. I am not looking all around the field right now.
”I didn’t have a concern about the change in coaches. I was open to what came next. Coach Perry a great coach. I am listening to everything her says. He’s the all-time leader in Ivy League passing so I listen when he says something.”
Last year was one sort of learning experience for Wornham, while this year will be another. He’s got a new offense to learn, but he does so having had a chance to adjust to what is expected of a starting quarterback in the Ivy League.
”I think I realized my role more and that I needed to watch more film and understand what we were doing,” Wornham said of last year. “And I realized I could not just go to practice and play like I did in high school. I felt more prepared so I knew what to expect.
”My confidence is up because I understand our scheme and what we are trying to do. Coach Perry has taught me a lot about what we’re trying to do and I’m confident in what we are trying to do this year.”
With a confident quarterback and a tough off-season of training to help prepare them, the Tigers are hoping to snap their string of losing seasons.
”Their attitude has been terrific,” Surace said. “I think the key is to move forward and you don’t harp on the past. For everybody, including myself, it is a fresh start. This is about the 2010 team. We’ve seen some seniors really embrace the fresh start. Guys who felt they probably didn’t have a great chance to play have embraced it and put themselves into position to help us.”
Any and all weapons are welcome on offense, where the Tigers expect to be up-tempo and exciting under the new coaching staff.
”Morale is good right now,” Wornham said. “Everyone is excited. We’re ready to hit other people. It’s exciting. We have just been focusing on ourselves. We’re just looking at Lehigh right now and not looking ahead. I don’t know if we have an edge because of the unknown or they have an edge because they have played two games. We’re just excited and ready to play.”
By Bob Nuse, Princeton Packet