Football Heads Back Into Ivy Play

PHILADELPHIA - With their first win under their belt, the Quakers head to New York City this weekend to renew their chase for an Ivy League title. Penn put itself behind the eight-ball with a loss at Dartmouth two weeks ago; in order to keep pace, wins are crucial, beginning with Columbia.

Penn at Columbia
Saturday, Oct. 13 * 1:30 p.m.
Wien Stadium (New York City)
Radio: WFIL 560 AM/Sirius Satellite Channel 126 (Matt Leon, Hench Murray, Brian Seltzer)

Penn Game Notes (PDF)

Hunting for an Ivy Crown
Penn gets back into Ivy play today after being selected second in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll, behind Yale and just ahead of Harvard and Princeton. The Quakers picked up 110 voting points overall, including one first-place vote, while Yale had 116 points (14 first-place votes) and Harvard 95 (one first-place). Princeton was picked fourth with 87 voting points. The full poll can be found on Page 3 of this week’s notes.

On the Radio
For the second straight season, all 10 Penn football games will be heard on either WNTP 990 AM or sister station WFIL 560 AM this season (the Columbia game will air on WFIL 560 AM). Every game will also be streamed live at Matt Leon (play-by-play) and Hench Murray (color analyst) return for their fifth season together in the booth. This season also marks Murray’s 27th providing color commentary for Quaker broadcasts. Brian Seltzer returns for his fourth season; he will host the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. This weekend’s halftime guest is Ed Foley, a tackle who lettered for the Quakers in 1983 and 1984. The pre-game show begins approximately 30 minutes before kickoff.

On Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio, available to subscribers nationwide, will air an Ivy League Game of the Week for the second straight year, and the Quakers will be heard on the service two more times in 2007 -- this weekend at Columbia, and the Nov. 3 home game with Princeton.

Five of Penn’s 10 games this year are being televised. In addition to having their first two games aired live, the Quakers’ games this weekend with Columbia and with Princeton (Nov. 3) will air on regional cable network CN8, and the Homecoming game with Yale (Oct. 20) will be televised nationally on the YES Network as part of the Ivy League package.

The Penn Sports Network
Every Penn home football game and several road games, including this weekend’s game at Wien Stadium, can be viewed or listened to live or archived online at thanks to the Penn Sports Network. For a monthly or yearly fee, fans can get video streaming of the football games on Penn’s athletic website; for a slightly smaller monthly fee they can get the “PSN Lite” Package which includes live audio from the games.

Today’s Game
Penn is 0-1 in the Ivy League for the first time since 1997, after losing 21-13 at Dartmouth two weeks ago. Last weekend, the Quakers earned their first win of 2007 in emphatic fashion over Georgetown -- they scored 28 first-quarter points and led 35-0 by halftime. By contrast, Columbia was shut out last weekend by Lafayette, 29-0, and two weeks ago the Lions were upended by Princeton, 42-32, in their Ivy opener.

The Columbia Series -- a Penn perspective
Penn has dominated the Lions in the last quarter-century, winning every game since 1997 (the 1997 win was subsequently overturned due to Penn’s use of a player later found to be ineligible). Columbia won games in 1995 and 1996; before that, the Quakers won all but one game between 1982-94—in other words, Penn has won 22 of the last 25 meetings.

Looking Back at Georgetown
Some notes from last weekend’s 42-13 win...
*Penn scored 42 points, the most in a game by the Quakers since a 44-16 win the last time they played here at Wien Stadium, on October 15, 2005.
*Penn scored 28 points in the first quarter, the most points the Quakers have scored in a quarter since Nov. 22, 2003, when they dropped 28 on Cornell in the first quarter of a 59-7 victory.
*In that first quarter, Penn had 12 first downs while Georgetown had none; outgained the Hoyas, 230-16, in yards; and had the ball for 11:05 out of the first 15 minutes.
*Senior Dan Coleman tied a career high with five catches, totaling 50 yards.
*Senior Bryan Walker has now thrown 87 passes in a row without an interception.
*Senior Joe Sandberg ran 13 times for 117 yards (9.0 average); it marked the most yards he has had in a game since last year vs. Princeton (173), and the seventh 100-yard rushing game of his collegiate career.
*Sandberg had 83 of his yards in the first quarter, on 11 carries.
*Freshmen Michael DiMaggio and Bradford Blackmon each scored their first collegiate touchdowns; DiMaggio’s came on a 38-yard run in the first quarter, while Blackmon’s was on a 4-yard scamper in the fourth.
*Junior Jason Miran and sophomore Tyler Fisher each caught their first TD passes as collegians; Miran’s came from five yards out in the first quarter, while Fisher’s was 26 yards in the second.

Nationally Speaking
Where Penn players stand in the Top 50 of the NCAA FCS national statistics...
*Sophomore Chris Wynn is tied for fourth with 0.75 interceptions per game.
*Sophomore Marcus Lawrence is 30th with 10.14 yards per punt return.
*Sophomore Tyler Fisher is 34th with 25.50 yards per kickoff return.
*Senior Joe Sandberg is tied for 34th with 94.00 rushing yards per game.
*Senior Braden Lepisto is tied for 35th with 5.50 catches and 54th with 65.50 receiving yards per game.

Back For Penn
Penn returns a significant chunk of its 2006 team. Overall, 16 starters return while nine have departed; 37 letterwinners in all are coming back to 16 lost. Ten of Penn’s 18 All-Ivy players also return, including three first-teamers in Joe Sandberg, Naheem Harris and Joe Anastasio.

The Captains
Seniors Joe Anastasio (LB), Nick Cisler (FB) and Patrick Kimener (FS) have been selected Penn’s captains for the 2007 season by their teammates. Anastasio was a first-team All-Ivy selection last year after racking up 102 tackles, while Cisler was an honorable mention All-Ivy. Kimener finished fourth on the team with 52 tackles.
A New Look
The Quakers are sporting a new look this year with both their helmets and their blue home jerseys. The helmets, which have boasted the words “PENN” in white for the past several years, remain dark blue; however, they now sport the split P logo that is used by the Department of Athletics. The home jerseys, which used to say “Pennsylvania” but had nothing on the front last year, now have “Penn” in small type above the numbers.

A New Look 2 (Offensively Speaking...)
One of the biggest changes for the Quakers this year will be the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Schmitz, who will implement a new-look offense. While the run game, which served the Quakers very well last year, will not change much, Penn will primarily operate out of a quick, no-huddle shotgun attack. With most of the offensive skill personnel returning, it should make for a productive year for the Quakers’ offense.

The Luck Has to Change
OK, so Penn fell by 20 at Villanova on Sept. 22, with all of the Wildcat points coming via Quaker turnovers. Think about the Quakers’ other seven losses since the start of the 2006 season, the five suffered last year and this year’s to Lafayette and Dartmouth. Chronologically...
*A 27-20 loss to Villanova that ended with Penn being stopped on the game’s final play deep in Nova’s zone.
*A 17-14 overtime loss at Yale when Penn missed a field goal in the OT session.
*A 30-27 overtime loss to Brown when Penn missed a field goal, then saw Brown miss a field goal but got called for a penalty which allowed Brown to re-kick (they made).
*A 31-30 double overtime loss at Princeton in which Penn matched Princeton’s touchdown in the second OT, then muffed the extra-point attempt (this, after both teams missed field goals in the first overtime).
(by the way, did we mention all three overtime losses came in consecutive weeks? It set an NCAA record for consecutive OT games)
*A 28-27 loss at Cornell in last year’s season finale; Penn scored late to draw within one, and Coach Bagnoli -- not wanting to subject his team to another overtime game -- went for two. Penn was stopped.
*An 8-7 loss to start this season, when Lafayette kicked the winning field goal with five seconds left on the clock; it was the Leopards’ only lead all day.
*A 21-13 loss at Dartmouth on Sept. 29, when Penn drove the length of the field toward a potential game-tying score, but a fourth-down pass in the end zone was called incomplete after a discussion by the officials.

Wacky Stats
After reviewing the stats, Penn head coach Al Bagnoli called the Quakers’ 21-13 loss at Dartmouth on Sept. 29 one of the wackiest games he has ever seen from a statistical standpoint. And he has a point. Penn lost despite running 93 plays (33 more than the Big Green) and holding a nearly six-minute edge in time of possession. The Quakers gained 406 yards on offense (to Dartmouth’s 344). They did not turn the ball over, while the Big Green had three giveaways. Finally, Penn was in the red zone a staggering seven times, compared to just once by Dartmouth. Yet it was the Quakers who were scrambling at the end to make a game of it—down, 21-6, they intercepted a Big Green pass with 2:37 on the clock, scored just 20 seconds later, then recovered an onside kick and drove down to the Big Green 6-yard line. On fourth down, a pass play into the end zone looked like it might be complete, which would have made the score 21-19. However, after a conference the officials ruled no catch on the play.

The Sandberg Show
Senior running back Joe Sandberg’s health will be a key to Penn’s chances today. The senior, who has 1,723 career rushing yards to put him in 12th place on Penn’s all-time list (see page 8), had 117 yards on 13 carries last weekend vs. Georgetown, including 85 on 11 rushes in the first quarter alone (he was in practice gear when the team returned to the field for the second half). Sandberg has been battling injuries all season -- he had 85 yards against Lafayette in the season opener but missed the second half after a leg injury; sat out the Villanova game entirely to nurse the Lafayette injury; then went down with a back injury early in the fourth quarter at Dartmouth after gaining 80 yards on 20 carries.

Walker? More Like Thrower
Senior quarterback Bryan Walker was known more for his rushing ability heading into Penn’s Sept. 29 game at Dartmouth, and he did not disappoint with 61 yards rushing on 11 carries. However, it was his arm that broke a record -- he threw 60 passes, breaking the old Penn mark of 55 set by Pat McDermott in 2004 against Bucknell. Walker completed 30 of his passes for a career-high 266 yards, and threw a TD pass to his former Agoura Hills high school teammate, Braden Lepisto.

Braden in Bunches
Speaking of Lepisto, he had a career game at Villanova on Sept. 22. The senior caught 11 balls, a career high and tied for ninth on Penn’s single-game list (along with Miles Macik, who had 11 catches against William & Mary on Oct. 14, 1995). The record for most catches in a game by a Penn player is 15, set Nov. 23, 2002 by Rob Milanese against Cornell. Lepisto also gained 123 yards against Villanova, just shy of his career high (140, set last year at Bucknell).

Spreading it Around
The Penn quarterbacks -- Walker and junior Robert Irvin -- have certainly found a number of targets with their passes this season. Against Georgetown, for example, eight different players caught passes, including three who had receptions longer than 20 yards and three others who had a long of at least 14 yards. At Dartmouth, nine different players caught passes, and seven had a long play of at least 12 yards.

Giving It The Boot
Freshman Andrew Samson recovered from his first collegiate game in a big way. After going 0-for-2 on field goals in the season opener against Lafayette -- including one that rang off the right upright -- Samson knocked home 23 and 45-yard field goals at Dartmouth. Samson’s 45-yarder was the longest by a Penn kicker since Evan Nolan drilled a 49-yard attempt at San Diego on Sept. 18, 2004. At the end of the Dartmouth game, Samson was also called upon for Penn’s onside kick attempt, and he successfully bounced it off a Big Green player for the Quakers to recover and drive for a potential game-tying score.

Linebacker U?
The “other” Penn school up the road -- Penn State -- may lay claim to the title, but the Quakers can certainly boast their share of great ‘backers through the years. The latest great is Joe Anastasio, who is picking up where he left off a year ago -- after gobbling up 102 tackles last year, the most by a Penn player since 1997, he has 34 through four games in 2007. His linebacker mate, Jay Colabella, has 19 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.

Safety School
Penn’s two safeties -- free safety Pat Kimener and strong safety Jordan Manning -- have also stood out on the defensive side. Kimener is second on the team with 25 tackles, and also has a team-high three pass breakups. Manning, meanwhile, is tied for third with 20 stops (including three tackles for loss), has two pass breakups, and made his first interception of the season at Villanova.

Next Time Out
Penn is back home next weekend, hosting Yale in its Homecoming game at Franklin Field. Kickoff is slated for noon.

Download: 07 game 5 - @Columbia.pdf