Tony | Penn football not a championship team right now
November 2, 2013, 5:14 pm·
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – What the hell was that?
At no point during Brown’s 27-0 blanking of Penn Saturday did the Quakers look like an Ivy championship football team. Or even a competent one.
That’s because championships are earned and squandered in the trenches, where the Bears absolutely dominated the Quakers from the very start to the very finish.
So just as Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly set an FCS record with 29 consecutive passes completed as the Tigers hung 53 points on Cornell, Penn’s defensive front stood some 230 miles away with hands on hips, huffing and puffing in retreat as the Bears reached an unfathomable 291 rushing yards on the afternoon.
When the numbers add up, then, which Ivy heavyweight – Penn or Princeton – has the muscle of a champion?
Don’t ask Penn senior quarterback Ryan Becker, because he won’t tell you.
“I always have faith in our offensive line, running backs and tight ends to block,” Becker said. “So their pressure’s not going to faze us at all.”
But it did faze Becker, who got sacked four times, was pressured countless others and looked shellshocked for most of the second half. Eventually Becker started missing open receivers like senior Ryan Mitchell and sophomore Christian Stapleton, looking jittery and rushing his throws.
Getting absolutely drilled at least once a series isn’t good for any quarterback’s psyche, because you can’t come back if you’re always thinking about what could be behind you.
What’s ahead of Penn are two more Ivy squads — Princeton and Harvard — who are more than adequate at rushing the quarterback. Both entered the weekend tied for third in the conference in both sacks and rushing defense.
Whether it’s Billy Ragone or Ryan Becker behind center for those matchups is irrelevant, because the Quakers have shown nothing since the start of league play to suggest that they’ll stop either foe from teeing off on their quarterbacks. Ragone can rush all he wants, but penetration is penetration.
Ask Penn coach Al Bagnoli what that meant Saturday.
“We got thoroughly dominated,” Bagnoli said. “We got outcoached, we got outplayed, we got outhustled.”
Yes they did. Ivy championship teams don’t let their quarterback get so bruised and discarded this deep into the season.
But it was Brown running back John Spooney’s game-opening 93-yard touchdown run and his 94-yard encore touchdown jaunt a quarter later that did the Quakers in.
“I think the referees were a little out of breath,” Brown coach Phil Estes chuckled about Spooney’s field-length dashes after the game.
You don’t let a team with a middle of the pack rushing offense utterly destroy you the way the Bears did Saturday. You just don’t.
And that’s why, with Princeton’s number one-ranked rushing offense awaiting next week, Quakers players and fans alike have had their breath taken away too.
So if it’s another Ivy championship for Penn that you’re looking for, don’t hold your breath.