Thursday, October 13, 2011

Scouting Penn

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Saturday's game is nationally televised on Versus

The Columbia game notes for this weekend's Homecoming game against Penn are up on the athletic department website.

So are the Penn notes.

Senior linebacker Evan Miller delivers a fun invitation for everyone to show up at Homecoming this Saturday.

Anyone who thinks the team is hopelessly depressed should take at hard look at the video. I found it encouraging.

Looking at Penn

In the preseason, I was impressed enough with the Quakers to pick them to win their third straight Ivy title.

And while Penn is still a very good team, it's clear this squad is nowhere near as good as the group that won the first 15 games in its incredible 16-game Ivy winning streak.

Unless the Quakers improve overall, I'm not sure they will be able to beat Harvard at Harvard or Brown at Brown.

But there is still very much to fear from this Penn squad this week and every week down the road.


For the first time in years, Penn has finally achieved something of a balanced offense.

The extremely deep and varied running game is now being at least somewhat augmented by the newfound passing prowess of QB Billy Ragone.

He's no Joe Montana, but in a few pressure situations this season, he's been performing great with his arm.

Remember last year against Columbia, the Quakers passed all of five times in the entire game.

The running attack is still great, also starring Ragone and his top two backs Brandon Colavita and Jeff Jack.

Ragone is averaging 4.6 yards a carry, amazing for a QB who takes a sack or two, and 4.6 is also the per carry average for Colavita.

Colavita is also averaging about 20 carries a game while Ragone averages 11 rushes per contest. So running is still the top weapon for Penn.

One weapon Columbia will probably not have to face is junior Lyle Marsh who appears to be out again with an injury. Marsh may be the besst Quaker runner of them all, so the Lions dodge a bullet there.

None of the receivers, led by Ryan Mitchell and Ryan Calvert, are game breakers but they all can get open and Ragone is finding them for a 57% completion percentage this year. TE Luke Nawrocki usually grabs about three passes a game, but he is mostly there as a blocker.

The offensive line, a major area of concern this year after so many stars graduated, is indeed not as good as it was a year ago.

But it's still darn good, allowing just five sacks all year and holding a 4.1 yards per carry average in the running game.

The point is, the Penn O-line isn't the impenetrable fortress it was last year or the year before.


The Penn defense has also come down a peg or two since last season.

It's surprising to see the Quakers allowing well over 100 rushing yards per game at 119.

It's surprising that Penn has recorded only six sacks in four games.

It's surprising to see an Al Bagnoli team allowing opponents to successfully convert third downs at a better than 40% clip.

It's surprising to see the Quakers have just one fumble recovery so far.

And it's most surprising to see Penn giving up more than 26 points per game.

But beware, this is still a very dangerous defense that can win games on its own.

Penn has a star on all three lines of defense, starting with DT Brandon Copeland, a 6-3 junior who goes fast even at 260 pounds.

The top linebacker is senior Eric Rask, the perfect sized LB for the Ivies at 6-2 and 225 lbs.

Finally, DB Matt Hamscher, (a converted RB who has made one of the best position changes in recent Ivy history), is a demon tackler who gets to every play.

Special Teams

You have to give Penn a downgrade from last year in this department also, as PK Connor Loftus has missed two of three field goals from 30-39 yards out, and has a missed PAT as well.

Kick returning is also not stellar and may get worse now that primary KR Lyle Marsh is out.

The punt returning, which is handled by Hamscher is very good, but not spectacular.


Unfortunately for the Lions, Bagnoli is still at the helm here and he has more than had the Lions' number during his 20 year tenure at Penn.

Bagnoli's overall record against Columbia is 17-2 with a current 14 game winning streak.

Only a couple of those wins has even been close.

And Penn's last six visits to Wien Stadium, all Homecoming games for Columbia, have all been won by Penn by an average score of 39-14.

I'll let you guess who has the coaching edge here.


At Thu Oct 13, 11:05:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our OL is much bigger than Penn's. So why is their running game and pass pro better than ours up to now? Their RBs and TE are bigger than opurs, however. Is that the answer?

At Thu Oct 13, 11:47:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bigger does not equal better. Penn always stresses having quicker, flexible, more athletic lineman.


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