Coach Al Bagnoli can make history Saturday as he tries for his 125th win at Penn — a victory would make Bagnoli the winningest coach in Red and Blue football history.
“Coaching is interesting. When you win the game, you enjoy it for about two hours and then you go home and try to figure out all the things that went wrong and how to correct them,” Bagnoli said. “Maybe at some point when I’m retired the win will mean something, but at this point, it’s another game in trying to get to where we want to be.”
But the coach is much more excited about the return of senior quarterback and co-captain Keiffer Garton, who will be an integral piece in another Ivy League title run now that he has recovered from injury.
“Keiffer’s not going to start, but he’s definitely going to play,” Bagnoli said. “We’re all excited to see him back in there, and he’s really excited to be back.”
In their final nonconference game of the season, the Quakers (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) will take on Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa. Saturday at 1 p.m.
Last season, Penn defeated Bucknell 21-3 at Franklin Field. Despite what the score might indicate, the game was stayed within one possession through most of the fourth quarter.
“Bucknell has a lot of guys back from last year,” senior captain Joe D’Orazio said. “Defensively, they use a lot of blitzes and different looks on defense in order to try and counteract what they may be lacking in personnel.”
Despite a close loss to the Quakers last year, Bucknell has not won a game against an Ivy opponent since defeating Cornell in September 2006.
But regardless of the Bison’s record against Penn’s conference competitors, the Quakers are looking forward to this weekend’s game in order to prepare for their tough Ancient Eight slate.
“We can’t take a step back now, because we’re heading into the Ivy League season the week after [this game], and then we have six straight Ivy League games,” said D’Orazio.
In addition, Bucknell acquired a new weapon in the offseason. Starting freshman quarterback Brandon Wesley has compiled a 105.6 QB rating through the first four games.
“Their quarterback is a pretty dynamic kid,” Bagnoli said. “I think they’re going to open it up a little more and have him do a little more of the run-gun stuff.”
The Quakers are also looking to round out their offense, even if it means choosing to pass the ball with a two-touchdown lead. Bagnoli elected to do this last week against Dartmouth instead of running down the clock, which allowed the Big Green an opportunity to get back in the game.
“You can’t be afraid to run your offense,” Bagnoli said. “People are going to put eight guys in the box, and we’re going to have to be able to effectively throw the football to be a complete team.”
The coach is also focused on preparing for Bucknell’s many looks on defense and blitz packages.
“Last week, they really pressured Cornell a lot,” he said. “They blitzed probably 60 to 70 percent of the time. We’re focusing on blitz recognition and protecting the quarterback.”
With the return of the recovering Garton, protection will be at a premium.