As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I’ve grown accustomed in recent years to grimacing every time Michael Vick takes a hit — so much so that when he walks off the field in pain, I’m no longer surprised.
That’s why, on Saturday, when senior Billy Ragone was pulled from the game late in the first half to rest a bruised collarbone, the scene felt oddly familiar, especially considering the start of the season both players have had.
Turnovers have been the name of the game, both for the Eagles and the Quakers. In Vick’s first start of the season, he threw four interceptions and fumbled twice. Ragone managed one fewer turnover when he threw five picks against Lafayette.
Still, both players are game changers when they’re protecting the ball. Vick has led two game-winning drives this season, and Ragone has looked his best when he’s able to tuck the ball and take it himself.
Ultimately though, turnovers and big plays don’t matter if your starter isn’t playing. Vick spent an entire offseason talking about how he has to stay on the field.
When Ragone left the game on Saturday, Penn was still within striking distance, and if Ragone is going to lead this team to an Ivy League title, he’ll need to light a fire under his team, which is considerably harder to do from the sidelines.
For all the similarities between Ragone and Vick, there’s a certain lefty quarterback out of New York that needs to be brought into the equation.
During the Lafayette game, backup Andrew Holland had driven Penn down the field. But on second and goal, Ragone trotted out to take the snap and ultimately rushed into the end zone for the score.
The entire sequence looked, dare I say, Tebowesque.
Yes, Tebow and Ragone also share many qualities: a love for running the football, the second-best throwing arm on their respective squads and a supposed clutch gene.
The problem with running a Tebow-centric package, however, is that you need the right personnel. What made the Broncos so effective last year was that they had Willis McGahee running out of the backfield incredibly well.
With tailback Brandon Colavita out for the majority of the first two games, Penn’s run game has suffered, lacking a back that can take a pounding up the middle and take some pressure off Ragone.
Some have suggested having Holland and Ragone on the field at the same time, keeping the defense from keying in the way Villanova did on Saturday, when it held Ragone to 0.9 yards per carry.
The Jets have packages in which both Tebow and Mark Sanchez take the field, but these two-QB schemes are gimmicks at best, both for the Jets and for the Quakers.
Ragone and Tebow are both at their best when able to keep the defense guessing whether they’ll hand it off, take it themselves or put it in the air.
Like Tebow, if Ragone can elevate his passing to help offset Penn’s running game, the Quakers will be a force to be reckoned with. But to do so, Ragone will have to be less like Vick and stay on the field.
JOHN PHILLIPS is a junior English major from Philadelphia. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.
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