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Penn Football beats Dartmouth at Hanover 30 - 24 Penn 31 Michael DiMaggio Credit: Katie Rubin

Instead of one of the receivers, it is Penn football coach Al Bagnoli who is going deep.

With incumbent quarterback Keiffer Garton still sidelined by a knee injury and primary halfback Lyle Marsh done for the year after fracturing a bone in his arm, Bagnoli is looking for roster depth to be his team’s biggest asset.

“We still have scars from last year [at quarterback],” Bagnoli said, alluding to lingering injuries from the 2009 season. “But like every other position, you’re trying to develop depth. It’s no different than trying to get two or three running backs in the game.”

Bagnoli is trying to keep a substantial number of players at each position who have, in his words, “been under fire.”

That’s why sophomores Jeff Jack and Brandon Colavita — both still in their freshman years of eligibility — saw significant playing time against both Lafayette and Villanova.

Add to that the return of senior Mike DiMaggio, and the Quakers aren’t expecting to lose a step with the loss of Marsh.

“[DiMaggio] has got really fresh legs,” Bagnoli said. “He’s finally free of the hamstring. And so he’s ready to take up that slack.”

Even more encouraging for Bagnoli is the imminent return of Garton, who the 18-year head man says is “getting very close.”

The Big Man’s Back. One player the Quakers are excited about having back from injury is senior center Joe D’Orazio.

A two-time preseason All-American, D’Orazio missed the Lafayette game and part of the Villanova contest, but is now “good to go” according to Bagnoli.

With the loss of Marsh and the rise of two younger quarterbacks, having D’Orazio back as the anchor of the Red and Blue offense would bring needed stability.

“I think [D’Orazio] gives a confidence level to everybody,” Bagnoli said. “It allows us a little bit more flexibility. We just have all kinds of versatility once we get Joe back.”

Hot Hand Billy … or Ryan. In the two-quarterback system that Bagnoli is employing in Garton’s absence, sophomore Billy Ragone and freshman Ryan Becker have been getting a lot of playing time.

Just who gets more in-game reps, however, has to do with who is having a better night.

“Early on in the game, we’re rotating in,” Ragone said. “And then whoever has the hot hand kinda seems to stay in.”

Both hands have been pretty hot so far — each quarterback has a rating over 100 and has completed at least 57 percent of his passes.

But Ragone brings an extra dimension to the position, having racked up 65 rushing yards on 15 attempts in the first two games.

Still, Bagnoli emphasizes that he wants to get both players sufficient reps in order to ensure that they will be ready to step in if needed even after Garton returns.

But according to Ragone, Garton shouldn’t need too much relief once he gets back in the swing of things.

“He’s anxious to get on the field,” Ragone said. “And he’s going to have a good motor, a good drive to get us going.”

The Red and Blue are hoping that Garton’s drive to return will translate to even more successful drives down the field.

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