On Saturday, Penn (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) will look to collect its second Ivy League win of the season against a last-place Cornell squad (1-6, 0-4) .
Five games into the season, the Quakers made a switch at the quarterback position. Coach Ray Priore benched senior John Quinnelly against Yale on Oct. 23 and against Brown on Oct. 30 in favor of true freshman Aidan Sayin.
In a small sample, the offense has seen improvement under Sayin. The freshman has shown off his arm talent, including a strength and touch that have helped open up the Penn passing game, although his numbers have not jumped off the page – Sayin has totaled 114 and 97 yards in his first two career starts.
If Penn can set up an effective passing attack against the Big Red, it will allow the Quakers’ running back duo of Isaiah Malcome and Trey Flowers to run over a Cornell defense surrendering 135.3 rushing yards per game. Look for a steady mix of screen passes and quick throws in the flats, as well as a few deep shots targeted at wide receiver Ryan Cragun. Building up confidence in a young quarterback is key, especially in in-conference contests, and early completions will help Sayin play confidently against Cornell.
The Big Red have also had uncertainty at the quarterback position this season. The team has employed a rotation between senior Richie Kenney, senior Ben Mays, and freshman Jameson Wang. Wang is a dual threat and the Big Red's leading rusher on the season: capable of scoring on the ground and through the air, he has thrown four touchdown passes in limited action.
Penn’s defense struggled earlier this year when faced with a rushing quarterback. Dartmouth’s Nick Howard ran for 101 yards and earned a pair of scores against the Quakers in Penn’s conference opener. Stopping Wang and the Cornell rushing attack will be a major key in Priore’s game plan on Saturday.
A win would bring Penn’s record to .500 on the season and would be the first time this year the Quakers have won in back-to-back weeks.