Penn football has made its defense a strong part of its team identity, and the Quakers have had many stars on the defensive side of the field in recent years. To understand how Penn football’s defense becomes game-ready and to uncover how its defensive game plans have evolved, it’s important to start with the assistant coaches responsible.
Here’s a look at the coaches leading the way for Penn’s defense:
Bob Benson - Defensive coordinator
Leading the defensive unit is Bob Benson, the Red and Blue’s defensive coordinator. This fall will be Benson’s seventh season with the Quakers, who he has helped to two Ivy League Championships since joining the team. The main characteristic of Benson’s defensive approach is his ball-hawking mentality, which has been attributed to the team’s success in forcing fumbles and interceptions. Prior to joining the Quakers, Benson served as the defensive coordinator at Albany, where he helped turn a defense ranked outside the top 100 in the Football Championship Subdivision into a top-50 unit.
Jon Dupont - Linebackers coach
Dupont will enter his 16th season with Penn in 2021, having been a part of five Ivy League championships. Prior to coaching Penn’s linebackers, Dupont served as the team’s cornerbacks and assistant secondary coach for seven years. One of Dupont’s greatest coaching successes is Nick Miller, who earned back-to-back first-team All-Ivy honors and finalist recognition as Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
Hank Hughes - Defensive line coach
Hughes will be entering his fourth year with the Quakers in 2021. During his Penn tenure, Hughes has coached Quaker great Prince Emili, as well as former first-team All-Ivy selection Cooper Gardner. Hughes’ defensive line has also developed a knack for finding the quarterback, as he frequently has defenses near the top in the nation when it comes to sacks per game. Prior to joining Penn, Hughes coached in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks for over a decade, where he was a part of programs such as Memphis, UConn, Cincinnati, and Nebraska.
Eric Franklin - Cornerbacks coach
Franklin’s first season with the Quakers was 2020, a season in which Penn did not compete athletically. As a result, Franklin’s impact on the team will begin in 2021, when the team is hoping to return to action. Prior to Penn, Franklin coached the linebackers unit at Washington and Lee, where the Generals were known for their scoring defense and interceptions.
Brian Fallon - Defensive quality control coach
Fallon will be entering his third year as Penn’s defensive quality control coach in 2021. The 2019 Temple graduate joined Penn with four seasons of experience as a student assistant coach for the Owls.
Penn will return to play in 2021 eager to win their first outright conference championship since 2012 after receiving shared titles in 2015 and 2016. The team’s defense will play a major part in whether the team can return to the top of the Ivy League standings.
The defense will likely feature a combination of the old strategies that coaches like Bob Benson have used to win Ivy Championships in the past, and new ones that coaches like Eric Franklin will introduce. No matter what kind of defense takes the field for Penn in 2021, it will be one that has been carefully developed by the coaches highlighted here.
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