Ethan Alter | Blame the weather for snapped Penn football streak
October 31, 2011, 11:11 pm·
Katie Rubin | DP
For a football game in which only six total points were scored, it’s actually not difficult to name an MVP: the weather.
It has certainly garnered more press than any single player over the last couple of days.
The official box score reads, “Temperature: 47, Wind: 10-15, Weather: rainy, cold.”
If that told the whole story, the 2011 Quakers would still be undefeated in the Ivy League.
It’s possible that, being from Northern California, I’ve forgotten what 47 degrees feels like, but it seemed much colder than the listed temperature on Saturday at Brown Stadium. And I was wearing three jackets, a beanie and gloves — in the press box.
Now, the rain. From kickoff to final whistle and beyond, rain poured down. At times, it was what we might consider “not pouring.” At others, the rain was downright torrential.
An important thing to keep in mind is that Brown Stadium features natural grass, as opposed to the turf on Franklin Field. Predictably, field conditions deteriorated under a combination of football cleats and mass amounts of water.
In outdoor sports that require athleticism and quick changes in direction, adverse field conditions tend to be an equalizer. The stronger, faster team’s advantage is diminished.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Brown and Penn had played under even decent conditions, the faster, more athletic Quakers would have been victorious.
I’m not suggesting that Brown did not deserve to win the game; without a doubt, they handled the conditions better and did enough to get the win.
Both teams were offensively handcuffed. Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero slipped multiple times trying to get set in the pocket. In fact, he threw his only interception of the game trying to throw the ball away after slipping several yards deep in the backfield.
Take the effects of the cold and the rain out of the game, and the Quakers return from Providence with their fourth Ivy League victory.
However, coach Al Bagnoli refused to cite the weather as a contributor to the loss. He pointed out that both teams had to play in the same conditions and that the Bears were simply better in the rain that day.
One may point to Penn’s -3 turnover differential as the difference-maker. But that statistic is misleading. The turnovers were an indirect result of the weather, not the ultimate cause of defeat.
Penn’s receivers couldn’t dig into the ground to get separation. Billy Ragone couldn’t be his elusive self when all of his receivers were covered, which was most of the game. Brandon Colavita ran for 69 yards, far below his pre-game average of 100.4 per game.
As I exited the stadium, I walked over a patch of grass (read: mud) on my way to the press conference. My feet literally started sinking into the ground. A Brown Athletics employee saw me and, with a huge smile on his face, said, “It was even worse on the field!”
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com