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Penn @ Villanova, loses 22-10 26 Lyle Marsh Credit: Melanie Lei

Here’s one storyline you can cross off the list for the 2010 Penn football season: Lyle Marsh.

The buzz surrounding the running back’s sophomore year — which promised to be even better than his second team all-Ivy rookie year — was hushed to a whisper when he went down with an arm injury Saturday. Now, he’s out for the season.

Marsh’s 2010 effort came to a crescendo early against Villanova when he carried Penn on an 80-yard drive — the sophomore rushed eight times for half of those yards — that led to the first score of the game.

But Marsh went down before Penn reached the goal-line and will not return to the field this year.

How Penn finished that drive is likely an image of what’s to come for the Quakers’ backfield without Marsh.

Fellow sophomore Jeff Jack entered, picked up a cool 15 yards on two carries and put Penn on the goal line. In came big Brandon Colavita, a sophomore, who punched in for a touchdown, earning the first of his career and Penn’s only on the night.

Marsh’s sidelining is not good news for Penn, that’s clear. But based on the two games they’ve played this season, the Quakers have no reason to ring the warning bells yet.

While Marsh looked to be at the top of the depth chart, he had split the workload evenly with Colavita and Jack. The two have taken 19 and 20 carries, respectively, compared to Marsh’s 22.

So far, Colavita has gained 89 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Jack sits close behind with 65 total yards.

Throw in a complementary set of mobile quarterbacks who aren’t afraid to take the ball themselves — sophomore Billy Ragone has 65 rushing yards in 15 carries this year — and Penn might just be set, even without Marsh. And don’t forget defensive backs Bradford Blackmon and Matt Hamscher. Just because they are listed on the defensive squad this year doesn’t mean coach Al Bagnoli can’t and won’t use the all-around athletes in his offensive schemes.

Where Marsh really excelled was getting back to the line of scrimmage. In his 22 carries, he only lost one yard, compared to a combined 11 from the two other backs.

Marsh’s size will also be missed. At 6 feet, 220 pounds, he was the biggest of Penn’s tailbacks. Jack has his height but weighs in 15 pounds lighter. And while Colavita matches Marsh’s 220 pounds, he’s still three inches shorter.

In reality, Marsh and his counterparts’ success this season has a strong correlation to the seasoned offensive line that has been supporting them, making holes and allowing them to get into the secondary.

So no matter who takes the handoff, he shouldn’t have much trouble breaking through.

CALDER SILCOX is a junior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is

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