Overrated in Philly
There will be no Jake Lewko for the Quakers in 2010
"The Devil Finds Work for Idle Hands to Do"
That's a proverb that almost completely accurately describes what happens to Ivy League football fans during the looong period from the day spring practice ends to day summer training camp opens.
I guess the more accurate proverb would be:
"The Devil Finds Work for Idle MINDS to Do."
Let's face it, the last 150 or so days of the 300-day offseason drive most of us nuts.
One of the things this annual summer mania does to us is it makes us put way too much weight on the published preseason forecasts in magazines like Athlon Sports and The Sporting News.
But I hope even the most information starved fan isn't putting too much weight on the recent #13 ranking Athlon just bestowed on Penn for 2010.
Now don't get me wrong, I hardly think the Quakers will be a weak team this coming season. In fact, if Penn isn't in the title hunt in some fashion in the final 2-3 weeks it'll be a surprise.
The Quakers are a team that lived on its superb defense last season and just about every star player on that defense has graduated.
Another big star, Owen Thomas, tragically committed suicide last month.
I just don't think the 2010 defense will be able to carry the load the way it did in 2009.
The offense may indeed improve this season. The running attack in particular should be effective thanks to a young and talented offensive line and running back Lyle Marsh, who is one of the Ivy's top three ball carriers right now.
But it's also an offense that has yet to show an effective passing attack, and without a stifling defense to back that up I just can't see Penn as a no-brainer favorite to win the Ivies let alone justify a #13 ranking in all of the FCS.
But the guy at Athlon who made this prediction probably just went with the base numbers without thinking too much about them. Yes, the Quakers have 15 starters and 11 All-Ivy honorees returning.
But none of them are Jake Lewko, Joe Goniprow, or Chris Wynn.
Again, I want to make it clear that I still believe Penn is going to be good. But until that offense proves it can pass the ball effectively, there's no reason to spend the next 116 days fretting about the Quakers.
Meanwhile, how anyone who watches the league doesn't pick Harvard as the preseason favorite to win the Ivies is beyond me.
Harvard has more key starters returning, and while I am not shaking in fear over what Andrew Hatch may or may not do for the Crimson at QB, I don't think his presence is going to hurt them. (And rest assured, Hatch WILL be playing this fall).
I like Harvard's returning running back corps, led by Ivy Rookie of the Year Treavor Scales and rising senior Gino Gordon.
I also like Harvard's returning receiver corps, led by Chris Lorditch and Adam Chrissis.
But even Harvard doesn't "scare" me because of some serious graduation losses in the offensive line and the overall defense.
The grand truth is that the entire league is looking more competitive than it has in decades as we head into the coming season. And it was pretty darn competitive last year. Remember that Penn won the title on the shoulders of an OT win at Brown and a razor-thin win at Harvard.
Meanwhile, Columbia came in fourth in the league and beat Brown much more decisively than Penn or Harvard did and the Lions fell to the Quakers mostly thanks to their own mistakes.
I'm still three months away from a more formal prediction for the 2010 Ivy race. But even now, I know that as many as six of the eight Ivy teams have every reason to believe they can contend for the title this fall.