Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Penn's Returners

Columbia back on TV for 2010

As expected, the Columbia-Yale game this October 30th at the Bowl will be televised as part of "Yale on Yes." Yale actually pays Yes to televise these games, so it would be REALLY sweet to whip the Elis in this contest!

Now back to the team-by-team look at returning starters for 2010.

Penn's starting lineup for its final contest in 2009 looked like this:


RB 28 Hamscher, Matt*
FB 41 DeLuca, Luke*
WR 21 Tuten, Matt*
TE 81 Nawrocki, Luke*
QB 8 Olson, Kyle
WR 18 Derham, Kyle
T 62 Van Roten, Greg*
G 67 Ruffolo, Luis*
C 59 D'Orazio, Joe*
G 57 Schaefer, Matt
T 71 Mollenbeck, Jared*


DT 93 Sholly, Jared*
NG 75 Goniprow, Joe
DB 20 Schmucker, Jason*
DE 32 Levine, Brian*
LB 50 Heller, Zach*
LB 53 Lewko, Jake
DE 40 Thomas, Owen
CB 6 Wynn, Chris
SS 4 Gray, Kevin
FS 7 Powers, Josh*
CB 1 Moore, Jonathan

*=returning starters

Penn's eight returning offensive starters is a nice figure, but it's really more like ten or 11 because top QB Keiffer Garton will be back after missing a lot of games in 2009. Talented QB Billy Ragone returns. RB Lyle Marsh was the best back on the team despite not being the official "starting tailback" in most games last season.

And Lyle Marsh may be the best running back in the Ivies right now.

Getting four of five starters coming back on the offensive line is also a rarity for a defending league champ.

That's the good news.

The bad news is the Penn offense wasn't really that great last year. It did perform well in the clutch, but the Quakers won the Ivy title last season because of an incredible defense that took control of game after game.

Also troublesome is the fact that Garton's injury troubles appear to be chronic and he plays his best football when he can run right at the tacklers.

Penn won't be able to repeat this season without significant improvements on offense, particularly in the passing game.

But the defense is the big concern. It's not that five starters are returning. The real problem is that Joe Goniprow, Jake Lewko, Chris Wynn and Owen Thomas are not among those five returnees.

Neither is long-time Penn linebackers coach Cliff Schwenke, who other than seemingly "forgetting" that he used to coach at Columbia, has been a huge reason for the Quakers great defense year after year for the past 11 years.

Al Bagnoli is a master coach, but getting the Penn defense to play at its 2009 level this fall is more than a Herculean task.

And that's not all...

Losing Thomas to suicide is a huge blow to this program. As terrible as the Kyle Ambrogi suicide was in 2005, he was a backup player and not someone his teammates relied on for emotional support.

Owen Thomas was elected team captain just before his suicide. The fact that it happened well before the season, (Ambrogi took his life during the 2005 campaign), should soften the blow somewhat, but that's a psychological and not a physical issue.

From a purely football standpoint, losing Thomas will not hurt the defensive line as much as losing Goniprow to graduation. And Penn's defense will still be very good in 2010.

But can the Quakers hold their opponents under 10 points per game and 65 yards rushing again?


And that's another reason why the Ivy championship race looks relatively wide open this year.


At Thu Jun 24, 03:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a new highlight video of RB recruit Griffin Lowry...looks good! (check out that opening punt return) The trio of Lowry, Garrett, and Williams could be the most explosive group of newcomers we've had in a long time.

At Thu Jun 24, 06:38:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, your Penn coverage causes me to offer the following unsolicited observation: Penn is my least favorite opponent, and their coach is my least favorite Ivy HC. I'm not sure why I have this intense dislike for Penn. Is it their obnoxious student body and alumni fan base? Is it my long held belief that they trash us in recruiting? Is it their constant whining to officials? Is it foehi? Is it this sneaky suspicion that they slip players past admissions? But whatever it is, the road to a championship goes through Philadelphia.

At Thu Jun 24, 05:52:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

Penn has its challenges yes, but even losing Lewko to the graduation and the pro's, three returning LB's were on the All-Ivy list at the end of the '09 season.

Further, 3 of those returning starting 4 OL were on the All-Ivy list. A healthy Marsh running behind all that talent and experience is going to be a dangerous combination that defenses will struggle to stop EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW ITS COMING!

I have neither like or dislike for PENN but not my team. However, I must agree with previous post - the Ivy Championship goes thru Philly.


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