Though the visiting Columbia squad might boast the Ivy League’s highest scoring offense and the momentum of a three-game win streak coming into Franklin Field this Saturday, the Penn squad is fortunate enough to have history on its side.
Try as they might, the Lions have not defeated the Quakers once over the last 14 seasons and have suffered six straight defeats at Franklin Field dating back to 1995.
Though Penn (3-1, 1-0 Ivy) does lay claim to the League’s best defense, it will be hard to ignore how successful Columbia’s offense has been thus far.
If the Red and Blue want any shot at slowing the Lions (3-1. 1-0), their first task will be to stop Columbia’s vaunted rushing attack.
An attack which is not lead by tailbacks Leon Ivery or Nick Gerst — the seventh- and eighth- leading rushers in the League — but by quarterback Sean Brackett.
The dual-threat sophomore is the Ancient Eight’s fifth-leading runner and also leads the League in passing efficiency.
“He’s very good. He makes that offense go,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. “He makes good decisions off the scramble, so he’s the kid that you’ve really got to control. I’m not sure you can totally stop him, but you’ve got to control him.”
As far as the Penn quarterback situation goes, Bagnoli indicated that it will once again be sophomore Billy Ragone and freshman transfer Ryan Becker splitting time behind center.
Though senior Keiffer Garton made his first appearance of the season against Bucknell last weekend, he will not be starting against Columbia and, according to Bagnoli, is questionable to even take the field at all.
“Keiffer’s still not one hundred percent healthy,” Bagnoli said. “It was good to get him some game experience, but he’s still not as explosive an athlete as he’s been in the past. We’re trying to be cautious with him.”
Regardless of which player heads upthe offense, the Quakers will need to avoid a slow start like the one they endured last week against the Bisons. With a productive offense like Columbia’s, a slow start could result in a large early deficit.
“Really, you’ve got to negate some of the big plays,” Bagnoli said.
“We’ve done a decent job against big plays, and if you can negate the big play — and Columbia has quite a few of them — then you’re forcing them to snap the ball, you’re forcing them to handle the football and you’re kind of putting a little more pressure on them then they are accustomed to.”
Though the Red and Blue defense has been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, the squad hasn’t earned a defensive turnover since the third quarter of the Villanova game three weeks ago. Bagnoli made special mention of the team’s emphasis this week on stripping the ball and creating some favorable situations for the offense.
“We just have to come out focused and ready to play,” Garton said. “They’re a good team and they’re had a good year so far, so we’ve just got to come out and take care of what we’ve got to take care of.”Comments powered by Disqus
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