Ragone's status questionable for Penn football
Ryan Becker and other quarterbacks ready to face Yale Saturday
October 24, 2013, 12:06 am·
Carolyn Lim | DP
When fifth-year senior quarterback Billy Ragone left last week’s game early in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury, Quakers fans collectively held their breath.
Now they can exhale — at least when it comes to Ragone’s long-term health. Coach Al Bagnoli told the DP Wednesday that Ragone’s X-rays and MRIs came back negative, meaning that Ragone did not sprain his ankle at Columbia. Still, Bagnoli said the team is “treating it like it’s a sprained ankle” and labeled Ragone as questionable for Saturday’s home game against Yale.
“To the degree he has mobility will determine what we do with him, how much he plays or doesn’t play,” Bagnoli said.
Ragone has not practiced this week. At Wednesday’s practice, Ragone walked slowly around the track several times with a trainer. His ankle was dislocated and his fibula fractured in Penn’s Ivy title share-clinching win over Harvard on Nov. 10. Ragone subsequently underwent surgery and rehabilitated for the entire offseason, only receiving his medical clearance on Aug. 6. He was not available for comment Wednesday.
“He’s getting better by the day,” Bagnoli said. “[But] if Billy’s not ready by Thursday or Friday, [he won’t play].”
“He’s getting there,” fellow fifth-year senior quarterback Ryan Becker said. “I haven’t been told anything. I think he’s feeling pretty good.”
Preparation for Yale hasn’t been too different with Ragone sitting out, however.
“It’s a little different for me just getting more reps in general. But overall, we know it’s the next man up mentality where we’re all being prepared to play, from the first-string quarterback to the seventh,” Becker said. He has completed 18 of 33 passing attempts for 202 yards in five games this season, said. He has also thrown one touchdown and two interceptions.
Becker’s one touchdown, though, came in the second quarter at Columbia last week, when Becker jumpstarted a lethargic Penn offense upon entering the game, flipping a touchdown pass to junior tight end Mitchell King when the Lions brought an all-out blitz on third and 17 at the Columbia 22-yard line. The score capped a nine-play, 46-yard drive in 3:31 and was the latest reminder that the Quakers offense is in capable hands when Becker is under center.
“We’re not gonna change a heck of a lot of what we do schematically with Ryan there,” Bagnoli said.
Should Ragone sit out Saturday, freshman quarterback Adam Strouss would periodically spell Becker, a more conventional pocket passer. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Strouss has yet to attempt a pass and has only rushed five times for 21 yards in his rookie campaign.
“Just the chance to get the ball in my hands has been great,” Strouss said. “I think the coaches are definitely trusting me with more and more every week, so maybe get a couple of passes worked into that, kind of mix up the looks. Obviously teams think I’m going to be running the ball now.”
“[Adam’s] going to be a good player,” Bagnoli said. “He was a really elusive quarterback in high school, and he has an awful lot of those run-pass characteristics that you’re looking for. And we tried to groom him earlier on, we didn’t want to expose Billy to too many hits coming off that leg trauma. So he’s the natural guy that we went to and he’s responded well.”
The third-string quarterback if Ragone does not play Saturday would be junior Patton Chillura, a native of Tampa who has never seen varsity game action in three years at Penn.
Whoever starts under center will be getting a crucial weapon back. Senior wide receiver Conner Scott will return to the lineup after missing the last three games with an ankle injury.
“I’m sure [the coaches] will want to ease [Scott] back into it,” Becker said. “He’s looking pretty good out here.”
So whether Ragone does or doesn’t take the field Saturday, it’ll have to be business as usual for the Quakers.
“I think Becker’s the same kind of quarterback [as Ragone],” Strouss said. “He can make all the plays that Billy can.”