"This is a whole new concept for us." So said Princeton quarterback Scott MacBean of the Tiger's switch this year from a traditional single-wing offense to the "T" formation.
It didn't take Princeton head coach Jake McCandless long to abandon the single-wing when he took over from Dick Coleman last spring. Finding the right man to play the all-important quarterback position in the "T" was a different matter.
During pre-season practice this year, MacBean, a senior who played tailback in the old single-wing, beat out letterman Arnie Holtberg and sophomore Rod Plummer for the job, and soon established himself as one of the Ivy League's sharpest signal-callers.
MacBean had not played quarterback in a "T" formation since his high school days, but the change was a welcome relief to him. "I was disappointed that we didn't pass more before. I like playing the "T" much more. The change is not so much what I do physically as what I do mentally. Now I am much more involved in the game," he said.
"This is a whole new concept for us. The single-wing was designed to run off of very specific blocks, but now we run to daylight. I think that the team is very pleased with our progress, but we realize that we must improve in each game from now on," he continued.
"We still have some things to iron out. Personally, I have a problem adjusting to new wrinkles in the defense each week. If we had been playing a "T" for three years, I would know most of these wrinkles by now," MacBean said.
Apparently, these "wrinkles" have not posed too much of a problem for MacBean. Through six games, he has hit on 80 of 138 passes for 1049 yards and nine touchdowns. He has already broken Princeton's record of 72 completions in one season that dated back to Dave Allerdice in 1940, and he is closing in on several more.
MacBean is presently leading the Ivy League in total offense with 781 yards, 165 yards ahead of Cornell's sophomore sensation Ed Marinaro. He is the only Ivy League passer that has not thrown an interception, and his 615 passing percentage ranks second in the league.
Against Penn two weeks ago. MacBean completed 10 of 19 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 32 yards on six carries to earn Ivy League Back of the Week honors. He has been a member of the ECAC backfield of the week for the past two weeks.
Last week, MacBean connected on 8 of 12 passes in Princeton's 33-6 romp over Brown. Against Dartmouth earlier in the year, he had 22 completions, two shy of the all-time Princeton record, and his 312 yards total offense approached the game record of 351 yards.
Asked what the turning point was for the Tigers this fall, MacBean replied, "The Cornell game gave us confidence, whereas the Colgate game jolted us and made us realize that we had a long way to go." Princeton lost to Colgate and Rutgers early in the season.
Besides allowing him more passing free Jom. MacBean noted that the "T" has relieved much of the pressure on the Tiger defense. "Last year, the defense had to worry much more because they were never sure of how the offense would do. Now they don't have to work as much." he said.
With Dartmouth and Princeton rolling along undefeated in the Ivy League, indications are that the final game of the season between the two teams will decide the Ivy League championship. MacBean looked ahead to that game Thursday.
"We don't feel that anyone will beat Dartmouth before that final game. We also feel that we have just as good a chance as Dartmouth, and we certainly will be trying to win our next three games."
Regardless of how Princeton does in its next four games, the Tigers will surely go down as one of the most adaptive teams ever. Changing an entire offense is no easy task.