Though the Quakers are the top team in the Ivy League in terms of red zone offense, they didn’t show it against Yale.
To beat Brown, which has one of the top defenses in the Ivy League, the Quakers will need to be more efficient inside the 20-yard line in Saturday’s showdown at Franklin Field.
In last Saturday’s 27-13 loss against Yale, Penn (2-4, 2-1 Ivy) visited the red zone four times. Only once did the Quakers walk away with a touchdown.
“We didn’t execute when we needed to the most,” running back Lyle Marsh said. “When it really comes down to it, you need to score touchdowns or you’re not going to win the game.”
The loss was especially difficult for senior offensive lineman Mike Pinciotti, who missed the game. It was the first time in his entire career, dating back to grade school, that he missed a game.
“I think we just need to work on discipline and get the mentality that it’s not possible to not finish,” Pinciotti said.
But Pinciotti, who expects to return Saturday, thinks the team will move past the loss quickly.
“The best teams take the season week by week,” he said. “You can’t look ahead. You can’t think about the past. You have a goal to perform that week.”
This week, the Quakers’ goal is to get back to the basics and stick to their assignments against Brown.
“If everyone commits to doing their job the best they can, we have the talent to beat anyone,” Pinciotti said.
Brown’s defense will present a challenge for a Penn offense that has often struggled this season. Brown has the only defense that ranks in the top half of the Ivy League in both rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed.
“They’re very athletic, they play really hard, they like to blitz,” Marsh said. “They’re a little undersized but they make up for it with their speed.”
Against Brown’s undersized defense, Marsh expects Penn to utilize its physical running game to its advantage.
“[The running game] definitely could play a much bigger role this week,” Marsh said. “There have been times this year when we have gone away from [our running game]. If we get back to that this week, I think we can have a lot of success.”
One of the main reasons that Cornell was unable to beat Brown this past weekend was its inability to establish the run. The Big Red had zero total rushing yards in their 21-14 loss last Saturday.
To establish the run, Pinciotti added that the offensive line will have to adjust to control Brown’s more athletic defensive line.
“[Coach Jon McLaughlin’s] line is ‘dance with a dancer, punch with a puncher,’” Pinciotti said. “So against speedier guys you have to be lighter on your feet and anticipate more finesse moves.”
The Quakers will have little margin for error after Saturday’s loss against Yale. It was the earliest Ivy loss for the Quakers since 2007 and Penn will likely need to win out for a share of the Ivy title.
Still, Pinciotti is optimistic.
“We’re still in it and we still have the ability to control our own destiny and win a piece of this title,” he said. “The team has to come together and the team will come together because that’s what it will take to beat Brown.”