If the Penn Quakers were a boxer, they'd be Sonny Liston. Right now, they're not pretty enough to be Ali, quick enough to be Sugar Ray Leonard or big enough to be Butterbean. Like Liston, the Penn football team intimidates because it has an ability to knock out its opponents at any time. And like Liston, Penn is somewhat undisciplined, not quite polished. With their high-powered offense and talented defense, the Quakers have the capacity to be dominant, to manhandle their opponents in and out of the Ivy League. Nevertheless, the 2000 Penn team has shown itself to be self-destructive at times, and Saturday's 45-28 win over Lafayette was a perfect example. The Red and Blue racked up an impressive 477 yards of total offense. They ruled the trenches throughout most of the game, blowing holes through the Lafayette defensive line and registering three sacks while not allowing a one. They demonstrated true offensive versatility, rushing for 157 yards and throwing for 320. Senior running back Mike Verille finished the day with 99 on the ground, while Todd Okolovitch added 58 of his own. And all of that came with All-Ivy tailback Kris Ryan watching from the sidelines. An eyebrow-raising total of nine players caught passes for the Quakers, five of them with at least three apiece. As if that weren't exciting enough, Penn was inventive on special teams, too. On the first three kickoffs that they fielded, the Quakers got creative. First, after Lafayette made the score 14-7 in Penn's favor, Kunle Williams received the kick and handed it off to Steve Faulk on a reverse. Faulk proceeded to take the return up the sideline for 64 yards to the Leopards' 25-yard line. The next two returns were variations on that theme, as Faulk handed it to Williams and then faked a reverse on the third kickoff. Up and down the field, the Quakers showed that they are a very talented football team. They showed that they have the ability to be ferocious, to tear an opposing squad apart. But the Red and Blue also showed that they have the ability to shoot themselves in the foot. For a while on Saturday, it looked as if Lafayette might make it into the bonus. Even though the game was played on the turf of Franklin Field and not on the hardwood of the Palestra, Penn had a major bout with foul trouble, committing a total of six personal fouls, most of which went against the defense for a barrage of late hits. The refs called Penn for a total of 12 penalties on the day for 122 lost yards, compared to only three penalties for Lafayette. "Whether or not they're good calls, bad calls, indifferent calls, I don't think that's the issue...," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "So we do it once, then OK, we play hard. But we don't do it the second, third, fourth and fifth times. It certainly puts you in a very precarious situation potentially. "We're going to have to cut that out." If Penn has hopes of winning an Ivy title this season, it needs to get out of the habit of committing so many penalties. Championship teams don't take themselves out of ball games, and double-digit penalties do just that. Last week against Lehigh, Bagnoli's squad had 17 points taken away on flags, so Lafayette is not an isolated incident. The Quakers also showed a slight lack of offensive composure. On two separate occasions early in the second quarter, Penn turned the ball over on either its first or second play from scrimmage after getting a turnover of its own. Five fumbles, only two of which Lafayette recovered, were also too much for Bagnoli and his staff to be elated. "I'm concerned. Our maturity level is not where it has to be, which I think is one of the big things that's going to determine whether or not we're going to be a good team," Bagnoli said. Bagnoli has reason to be concerned on that front, but he doesn't need to worry about his team's right hook.Comments powered by Disqus
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