Al Bagnoli is nothing if not realistic. The Penn coach knows Lafayette and Bucknell are not exactly the most glamorous teams on the Quakers' 1995 schedule. He knows his team, riding a nation-best 23-game winning streak, could be excused for relaxing just a bit going into the second of those two games tomorrow against Bucknell (1:30 p.m., Franklin Field). Especially given the way the Quakers easily disposed of the Leopards last weekend in Easton, Pa. So maybe Bagnoli found a silver lining in the storm clouds surrounding him in the press conference following the Lafayette game. The source of his discontent then was the Quakers' sloppy second-half performance, in which they were outscored 8-0 and committed four turnovers. As awesome as the Quakers (2-0) looked in the first half, Bagnoli said, they looked nearly that sluggish in the second stanza. The Penn coaches took that message back to the players. The players heard. They saw the films. And that's why the Quakers figure to be fired up for what on paper looks like a meaningless non-league game against the Bison (2-1). "We're still looking for 60 minutes of consistency," Bagnoli said. "The kids are focused on the game at hand. They've seen we have a long way to go to get to where we want to be." An area in which Penn especially wants to improve is the running game. Thus far the three-headed monster of Jasen Scott, Aman Abye and Dion Camp has done a less-than-splendid job of replacing the graduated Terrance Stokes, who averaged well over 100 yards a game and earned first-team all-Ivy honors last season. Scott, Abye and Camp combined for a respectable 125 yards in week one against Dartmouth, but last week, with Abye out with a leg injury, Penn netted only 65 yards on the ground. That's a far cry from the 162 yards per game the Quakers averaged last season, or from the 150 yards per game the Bison have grounded out in the first three contests of 1995. But this may not be the week the running game returns to its former glory. Last week it was Abye who was hampered by injury; now it's both Scott and Camp. Scott popped a bursar sack in his knee early in the week and is the bigger question mark going into the game, according to Bagnoli. Camp is suffering from a strained hamstring. Despite these obstacles, Bagnoli would like to see some improvement emanating from the backfield. Against the Leopards, the lack of a running game in the second half forced the Quakers into the air, with noticeably poor results. After throwing for three touchdowns in the first half, quarterback Mark DeRosa tossed three interceptions in half two. Penn had just 57 yards of offense in the second stanza. "We have a chance to be a pretty consistent football team," Bagnoli said. "But we've got to do a better job running the football. That's the way to protect the ball and keep the other team off the field." Lafayette had an eight-minute time-of-possession advantage over the Quakers. Against a more explosive offense than the Leopards, that could be troublesome. While Penn's running game has had a tough time getting going, Bucknell's has shone -- at least until a week ago. Bison Rich Lemon, the preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, gained 314 yards in two games as Bucknell defeated Southern Connecticut and Fordham. But last week in Princeton the Tigers smothered Lemon, limiting him to 15 yards. Bucknell lost 20-3. It is apparent that as Lemon goes, so go the Bison. "This offense will test us," Bagnoli said. "They'll run their West Coast-style offense right at us, and they've got a very legitimate back in Lemon." The West Coast offense, which involves quick drops and passes, should provide an intriguing test for the Quakers, who excel at getting to the quarterback given the slightest opportunity. Penn's front five will have to be quicker than ever if it is to match last week's five-sack effort against Lafayette. · NOTES: The last time the two teams met, in 1993, Penn broke open a close game with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 42-12 in Lewisburg, Pa.?In the last meeting at Franklin Field, back in 1989, the Quakers eked out a 25-24 thriller when Bucknell missed a 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining.?The last time the Bison beat the Quakers was in 1987, when Bucknell won 32-24 in Lewisburg.Comments powered by Disqus
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