Penn football looked good yesterday. In a 37-21 road victory, the score doesn’t do the team justice as to how much the Red and Blue (2-0) outplayed the Bison (1-2). Penn absolutely dominated Bucknell on both sides of the football, showing that last week’s demolition of their Patriot League counterpart Colgate was more than a one-time thing.
After nabbing his first career catch in the season opener, sophomore Jared Richardson really declared his presence on this Penn offense in week two, finishing the day with 12 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Richardson has shown that he is him — and if his chemistry with junior quarterback Aidan Sayin continues to build, Sayin is comfortably on his way to having his best season yet.
What’s even scarier for Penn’s future opponents is that Sayin’s backup isn’t too shabby, either. After seeing very limited playing time last year, sophomore quarterback Liam O’Brien proved himself to be a potent rushing threat as he scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter. On the ground, junior halfback Jacob Cisneros and senior halfback Jonathan Mulatu put up solid numbers while sophomore wideout Alex Haight caught his first touchdown.
Overall, the Quakers seem to have a lot of threatening players that should prove to be an asset moving forward, as opposing teams will have to prep not only for Sayin and Richardson, but also for the other big play threats that round out the Penn offense.
Until midway through the third quarter, the defense played absolutely lights out. For almost thirty minutes, the Quakers were able to hold Bucknell to just one first down and barely twenty yards of total offense. While the run defense remained extremely stout, ending the day with only eight yards allowed, the secondary was not able to hold out as long, letting Bucknell score three touchdowns to end the game. Flashes of weakness from the secondary did pop up in the previous week, so if this continues to be a trend for the Penn defense, expect teams moving forward to start targeting Penn's defensive backs.
Despite throwing for over 300 yards for the first time in his career, there are some concerns with ball security for Sayin. After throwing an interception at Colgate, Sayin added two more to that tally on Saturday, with one interception gifting Bucknell a great field position that allowed them to score their first points of the day. Another worrying issue was special teams play: two blocked kicks left points on the field that the Quakers will want back.
Against an injured Bucknell team, these mistakes didn't come at a heavy cost for the Red and Blue. However, if this trend continues against much tougher opponents within the Ivy League, they could end up coming back to haunt a Penn team that has too much potential to waste.
The Quakers are now off to their first 2-0 for a second straight season, and will be seeking to continue that streak in their home opener against Dartmouth on Saturday. If they can keep up this red-hot start and fix a few minor issues as they head into league play, Penn could be a major challenger for the Ivy crown — its first since 2016.
VIVIAN YAO is a sophomore and current sports associate studying bioengineering from Clarksville, Md. All comments should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.