Roundtable | Did Saturday's win turn around Penn football's outlook?
Penn football finally got its first win of the year on Saturday, taking down lowly Columbia. This weekend, a much greater test awaits in a strong Yale squad. Our editors debate: Does the Columbia game change the outlook for Penn football, or are the Quakers bound to fall to the Elis?
Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings: Winning always changes things. Look, the Quakers aren’t going to look like world beaters overnight, but the team knows the formula to win now. They need to establish the running game, which should be easier with senior running back Kyle Wilcox back at practice this week and possibly ready to go to the Yale Bowl. Alek Torgersen will need to be just as strong with his decision-making, and the O-line needs to hold up its end of the bargain.
But the defense was the most important change on Saturday. Yes, I know, Columbia. But that defense had floundered for four games and now the D-line looks like it has things together. Senior linebacker Dan Davis is healthy. All of these factors means Penn is a strong competitor to Yale. Favorites? No, but Dartmouth proved these Elis are beatable, even at Yale. Game on.
Sports Editor Ian Wenik: I’m gonna have to be party pooper on this one. Penn’s secondary looked good against Columbia, yes, but I don’t see any reason to be confident in it until it shows up well against a competent quarterback. Yale senior quarterback Morgan Roberts is completing 69.4 percent of his passes this year, a ridiculously efficient clip.
If Penn wants me to believe it has a shot at the Ivy title, it’ll need to have that pass rush show up again in force on Saturday, to make the secondary issue irrelevant. After all, you can’t complete a pass if you’re pile-driven into the Yale Bowl turf. But that pass rush didn’t show up against Dartmouth, and I don’t see it showing up against the Bulldogs, either.
Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: I’m with Ian on this one. Sure, Dartmouth proved the Elis are beatable, but Penn and Dartmouth are far from the same team. And remember how close that one was. If Big Green quarterback Dalyn Williams had made one fewer heroic play in leading Dartmouth back in the fourth quarter, then we’d be talking about a Yale team undefeated in the league and holding a win over Army.
I don’t think a dominant win over lowly Columbia changes much of anything about Penn’s chances against one of the stronger teams in the league. Sure, it was by far the most complete game the Quakers have played all season, but the Lions aren’t a fearsome opponent. I think, if anything, Columbia helped cover up the flaws that doomed the Red and Blue in early games. We’ll see if Yale can expose them the same way that Dartmouth did, but either way Penn’s chances didn’t improve too much after a win that everyone saw coming.