11/12/09 — Dawg's 'D' plays steady

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Dawg's 'D' plays steady

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 12, 2009 1:48 PM

Bend but don't break is the timeless philosophy that Princeton's defense has adopted this season.

The hard work has been left for quarterback David Gurganus and a high-powered offense.

The Bulldawgs' defensive unit understands its responsibility isn't necessarily to win ballgames, but merely not to lose them. An offense that averages 32 points a game has allowed Princeton's defense to play more relaxed without feeling the need to pitch a shutout each week.

That free and easy attitude has translated into allowing 14 points or less in six outings this year. Wesley Thompson has recorded a team-high 37 tackles followed by Benton Myers with 34. Thompson and Myers are two of six different Dawgs to tally 20-plus tackles.

"They've been kind of bend and don't break," said Princeton head coach Russell Williamson. "That's good enough as long as we can score and they've played well. They've gotten a little better every week."

Conditioning has been a large part of the Bulldawgs' defensive success as they've spent a significant amount of time on the field. The transfer of Gurganus into the program has given Princeton's offense a big-play, quick-strike dynamic.

At rival Rosewood last week, all six of the Bulldawgs' possessions that resulted in points lasted less than two minutes.

"Sometimes we score too quick and they have to go back out there and they may get a little fatigued," said Williamson. "A lot of them are playing both ways. We're in good shape, and we've worked hard all summer and all year on being in shape."

Williamson's defense has also displayed the ability to make adjustments within a game to slow down an opponent's offense. After surrendering 20 first-half points against Rosewood, the Bulldawgs (8-3 overall) tightened up after halftime.

Princeton took away the Eagles' tendency to bounce running plays to the outside and in turn didn't allow a point in the second half. The Dawgs forced five Rosewood turnovers and picked off quarterback Taylor McGill three times.

"We moved a little bit more outside on them and made a couple of stops," said Williamson. "We had a big play early in the second half when we sacked the quarterback and put them in third-and-long, and that was probably a big turning point."