Last week, Penn football played four complete quarters en route to a 20-6 win over Colgate (0-3). But the cruel irony of the college football season is that regardless of last week’s result, the Quakers (1-0) have to do it all again for the next nine weeks. On Saturday, Penn will head back on the road to face another Patriot League foe: Bucknell (1-1).
Against Colgate, the Quakers looked like a smooth football team. The offense ran for 110 yards on just 25 carries, gaining over twice as many yards per rushing attempt as the Raiders. Through the air, junior quarterback Aidan Sayin completed over 60% of his passes and threw for two touchdowns.
The defense, after allowing six points in the first half, shut out the Raiders after halftime. The Quakers forced three turnovers on downs, and added an interception — their second of the afternoon — during the second half. The defense notched six sacks of Colgate quarterback Michael Brescia and held the Raiders to four for 17 on third down.
There were some “first game jitters,” fifth-year senior defensive back Jaden Key said. “So going into halftime we had to clean up some things, make sure we were tackling the right way, and then after that just hit the ground running.”
Despite looking strong against Colgate, Penn will aim to do even better against Bucknell. With first-game kinks out of the way for the team, the team will strive to improve into who it ultimately could be.
“We made a handful of very correctable mistakes [against Colgate] that our kids have really honed in on,” coach Ray Priore said. “There's a coaching mindset that says the greatest improvement you see is between your first game of the year and the second game. So we’re really, really harping on cleaning up all those little things that we didn't do right on Saturday.”
This week, Penn will butt heads with the Bison. So far, they are 1-1, with a 38-3 loss to James Madison in week one, followed by a 21-13 win against VMI. Last week, the Bison had a bye, meaning that they will likely be extra rested heading into this week’s matchup.
In the victory over VMI, Bucknell implemented a multifaceted offensive attack, with 173 rushing yards and 224 passing yards. Meanwhile, their defense held VMI to under two yards per carry. However, the defense did surrender a 67% completion percentage and 11 yards per completion.
“I would say they are showing some really good things both on offense and defense,” Priore said. “Their quarterback is very active, throws the ball very well and he’s very mobile which gives everybody headaches. On defense, their defensive front and linebackers have really done a nice job.”
With only ten games each year, every contest matters for the Quakers. But with the Ivy League season beginning just next weekend against Dartmouth, this week will be crucial for Penn to iron out any possible holes in the team ahead of the conference season. Even with the depth chart largely unchanged from the Colgate game, the Quakers will still likely rotate in several players.
“If you look at the statistics from the Colgate game, we ended up playing a lot of players,” Priore said. “For some people, I think the amount of reps they have may change, but I think our strength is in our depth and our ability to play as many players as we can in certain positions.”
Penn’s game at Bucknell will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 from Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, Pa.