Lengyel | It's a long road ahead for Penn football
October 28, 2013, 7:58 pm · Updated October 28, 2013, 11:33 pm·
Carolyn Lim | DP
The football season feels like it should be coming to a close considering we’ve seen a thrilling opener, tough losses and an overtime game for the ages.
But, for Penn, the season is just beginning.
The Quakers’ next three games will be important to deciding whether they can take home a second consecutive Ivy title as the Red and Blue have a long way to go before reaching the ultimate goal of four outright titles in five years.
The season has been long, physical and mentally draining. But what must Penn shore up before heading into its toughest Ivy stretch? That’s simple. Focus, polish and execution. Those notions must permeate the locker room from the top to the bottom.
After all, the game of football is decided by the team that can execute more efficiently. The Red and Blue must build off of their performance against Yale, which was arguably their most complete performance of the season. The Quakers showed their mental strength by overcoming costly turnovers and by punishing the Elis with a methodical ground attack.
This past Saturday, the first quarter saw a Penn O-line that was getting beat off the ball and missing assignments against a very tough and talented Yale front seven. The run game was sloppy and turnovers were prevalent. But the line put it together from then on, helping the Quakers post more than 200 rushing yards, thus highlighting the talent and versatility of the group. The offensive line is the bedrock and Penn needs to see it earlier in games from here on out.
Against their next opponent, this group will need to be one step ahead. Brown has logged 22 sacks on the season as compared to just eight by the Bears’ opponents.
Brown will be coming fast and hard at Penn’s offensive line. If the O-line doesn’t step up, fifth-year quarterbacks Ryan Becker or Billy Ragone could see themselves looking up at the Rhode Island sky more than they’d like.
But what has become the most critical junction of this season for the Quakers is the now-much anticipated Homecoming matchup with Princeton. While Penn students adorn their “Puck Frinceton” shirts, the Quakers will be grinding out what could be the most important milestone en route to an Ivy crown.
The fact that Princeton marched into Harvard and took a three-overtime victory away from the undefeated Crimson says a lot not only about the talent of this year’s Tigers, but also about the resolve of the team.
To beat Princeton, Penn has to be able to put the dagger in early. If the Quakers can go nose-to-nose with its potent rushing attack, then Penn could seal the game up early.
And needless to say, holding the Tigers’ star quarterback Quinn Epperly is a must. A six-touchdown game like Epperly had against Harvard is not something the Quakers can afford to give up, but stopping him is no easy task. Playmakers like Dan Davis, David Park and the interior defensive line must become bigger problems for Princeton earlier in the game.
And that’s before Penn even considers what will come their way on Nov. 16 at Harvard.
We hear the saying, “We need to get better every game,” time and time again, and with this stretch coming up, there is no time where this has been more crucial for Penn.
Two road games, three Ivy opponents, one crown.
Dig deep and dig down, Quakers. It’s going to be a bloodbath out there.
JIMMY LENGYEL is a College sophomore from Pensacola, Fla. and is an associate sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.