Football Readies For 16th-Ranked Yale

After a 0-3 start, the Quakers have responded with a pair of blowout victories, and seem to be hitting their stride as the Ivy League chase shifts into high gear. They will have their hands full this weekend, however, hosting a Yale team that is off to its best start since 1981 and has put up 101 points in its first two Ivy League games.

Penn (2-3, 1-1) vs. Yale (5-0, 2-0)
Saturday, Oct. 20 * Noon
Franklin Field (Philadelphia)
YES Network (Channel 622 on DirecTV)
Radio: WFIL (560 AM) - Matt Leon, Hench Murray, Brian Seltzer

Penn Game Notes (PDF)

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 Yale 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 athletic director Steve Bilsky W’71, talking about the University’s capital campaign launch and how athletics will be involved.

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 one more time in 2007—the Nov. 3 home game with Princeton.

Five of Penn’s 10 games this year are being televised, including this weekend's which is being televised nationally on YES Network (you can pick up YES on Channel 622 of DirecTV). In addition, the Quakers’ home game with Princeton (Nov. 3) will air on regional cable network CN8.

The Penn Sports Network
Every Penn home football game and several road games, including this weekend’s game at Franklin Field, 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
After starting the season 0-3 -- a first in the 16-year Al Bagnoli coaching era -- Penn has regained its footing with a pair of dominating wins, 42-13 over Georgetown and 59-28 last weekend at Columbia. In both of those games, the first half told the story; the Quakers were up 28-0 after one quarter and 35-0 by halftime against the Hoyas, and dominated the Lions 45-7 in the opening 30 minutes of last weekend’s game at Wien Stadium.
Yale, meanwhile, is 5-0 for the first time since 1981, when the Bulldogs began the year 8-0. Not only are they unbeaten, they are dominating -- last week, when they allowed Lehigh to score the game’s opening touchdown, it marked the first time this season Yale has trailed, and it was also the first points allowed by the Bulldogs in the first quarter of a game this year. Overall, Yale has outscored its first five opponents by a combined 190-60 (an average of 38-12 per game).

A Year Ago
Lsat year, Yale earned a 17-14 overtime over Penn at the Yale Bowl, winning when the Quakers opened OT by missing a field goal before the Bulldogs hit one. Those with some memory of last season will realize this was the first of three-straight overtime games Penn played, an NCAA record. The Quakers lost all three, falling the next weekend to Brown and then the week after that at Princeton in double overtime.

The (Preseason) Cream of the Crop
Today’s game features the teams picked 1-2 in the preseason Ivy League poll—Yale was picked to win the League, receiving 14 of 16 first-place votes and 125 voting points. Penn was picked second, with 110 voting points including one of the other first-place votes (Harvard got the final one). The complete preseason poll can be found on page 3.

The (Rushing) Cream of the Crop
Today’s game also highlights the top two running backs in the League in Yale’s Mike McLeod and Penn’s Joe Sandberg...

No Average Joe
Senior running back Joe Sandberg, a first-team All-Ivy pick a year ago, seems to be rounding into form at just the right time -- in the last two weeks, he has 35 rushes for 314 yards (9.0 average) and six TDs. Last weekend, he set a career benchmark with 197 yards on 22 carries at Columbia, scoring four times. In the process, Sandberg crashed Penn’s all-time Top 10 in career rushing, and he needs just 80 yards to reach 2,000 for his Red and Blue career.
Career Rushing Yards
1. Kris Ryan (1998-2001) — 3,181 yards
2. Bryan Keys (1987-89) — 3,137
3. Terrance Stokes (1992-94) — 2,717
4. Sam Mathews (2003-05) — 2,529
5. Rich Comizio (1984-86) — 2,479
6. Jim Finn (1995-98) — 2,251
7. Jasen Scott (1993-96) — 2,224
8. Chris Flynn (1985-87) — 2,181
9. Adolph Bellizeare (1972-74) — 2,155
10. Joe Sandberg (2005-present) — 1,920
11. Sundiata Rush (1990-92) — 1,886

His Counterpart, Meanwhile...
The only player ahead of Sandberg on the Ivy League rushing chart will be dressed in Yale’s whites. Junior Mike McLeod is averaging a staggering 199 yards per game this season, and has scored 15 touchdowns. Last weekend, he fumbled the ball away on Lehigh’s 4-yard line during Yale’s opening drive, his first fumble in 353 carries. He recovered from that mishap, though, and finished the day with a school-record 276 rushing yards.

Behind Penn’s Numbers
How dominant has Penn’s performance been the last two weekends? Consider these numbers...
* The 59 points scored against Columbia marked the most ever scored against the Lions, and the most in any game since the 2004 season opener when the Quakers scored 61 at San Diego. It also matched the most points scored by Penn against an Ivy League opponent since the start of formal Ivy play in 1956. (the Quakers also scored 59 against Cornell on Nov. 22, 2003)
* Penn scored 45 points in the opening half against the Lions, an impressive figure made more so when you realize that, in the 153 games Al Bagnoli has coached at Penn, his team has reached that total in a full game just 13 times.
* The 45 first-half points marked the most scored by the Quakers in any half since Oct. 8, 1994, when they dropped 45 on Holy Cross in the first half of an eventual 59-8 victory here at Franklin Field.
* When Penn scored 28 first-quarter points against Georgetown, it marked the most points scored by the Quakers in a quarter since that blowout win over Cornell in 2003. Of course, Penn did it again last week, putting 28 on Columbia in the second quarter.
* Penn has scored 101 points in the last two games; to find the last time the Quakers scored that many in consecutive games, you would have to go back to 1946, when they scored 66 in the season opener against Lafayette and then dropped 39 the next weekend against Dartmouth for 105 combined points. (by the way, if this year’s Penn team really wants to shoot for something, that 1946 team scored 40 in its third game, against Virginia, for a three-game total of 145 points)

And Then There is Yale...
Yale, meanwhile, opened its Ivy League season with a 51-12 win over Cornell and a 50-10 dismantling of Dartmouth. They were results of historic proportions -- it marked the first time an Ivy team dropped consecutive 50-point outings in League games since the start of formal conference play in 1956.

Lesson Learned
Senior quarterback Bryan Walker was one half of a QB horror show when Penn played at Villanova on Sept. 22, throwing two of the team’s seven interceptions that night. You think he learned his lesson? Since then, Walker has thrown 108 passes, and not one of them has been picked off. So where is Robert Irvin, last year’s starter? Off-season surgery did not seem to fix problems he was having in his throwing arm, and he has been shut down for the remainder of the season. Having played in just two games, he is qualified to take a medical redshirt and regain this year of eligibility. Sophomore Brendan McNally is now listed as the backup on the two-deep.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Take a look at Penn’s scoring summary from last weekend at Columbia...
CONVENTIONAL: Running back Joe Sandberg rushed for four touchdowns -- the second time he has done that in his career -- and Walker threw for two, to Josh Koontz (his first collegiate TD) and Braden Lepisto.
UNCONVENTIONAL: Safety Jordan Manning picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 62 yards to paydirt -- the first time a Penn player has done that since Stephen Faulk against Cornell in 2001 -- and sophomore Tyler Fisher returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score (the first time a Penn player has done that since Chris Wynn last year against Brown).

The Quaker Clipper?
Not to upset fans of Joltin’ Joe, of course, but the name fits for freshman running back Michael DiMaggio. He was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week following the Georgetown game, when he rushed for 49 first-quarter yards (including a 38-yard score for his first collegiate TD). He finished that game with 11 carries for 85 yards, and has established himself as Sandberg’s backup in the running back spot.

Pick Your Poison
Go ahead, kickers -- kick it to Tyler Fisher on kickoffs. He is averaging nearly 36 yards on eight returns so far this year, highlighted of course by last weekend’s 96-yard TD at Columbia. Don’t like that option? Then try Chris Wynn; he is averaging 22 yards on six returns, but has the ability to break the big one as well (witness last year’s 98-yard for a score against Brown). Good luck!

Sticky Fingers
Six different Penn players have picked off opposing passes this season, led by Wynn who has three. The others, who have one apiece, are Manning, Pat Kimener, Joey Brown, Jay Colabella and Mark Washington.

Looking Back at Georgetown
Some notes from the Quakers’ 42-13 win over the Hoyas two weeks ago...
*In the 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.
*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 Tyler Fisher is third with 35.75 yards per kickoff return.
*Senior Joe Sandberg is tied for eighth with 10.50 points per game; 12th with 119.75 rushing yards per game; and 40th with 131.75 all-purpose yards per game.
*Sophomore Chris Wynn is tied for 12th with 0.60 interceptions per game.
*Sophomore Marcus Lawrence is 27th with 9.75 yards per punt return.

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
Think about the Quakers’eight losses since the start of the 2006 season. 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).
(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 34-14 loss at Villanova in a game Penn led 14-10 at halftime and trailed just 20-14 after three. Talk about giving it away; the Quakers threw seven interceptions and had eight turnovers, which the ‘Cats converted into all their points.
*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
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.

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, 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 40 through four games in 2007. His linebacker mate, Jay Colabella, has 22 tackles, 2.5 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 28 tackles and three pass breakups. Manning, meanwhile, is tied for third with 27 stops (including three tackles for loss) and has three pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown (off a blocked field goal last weekend at Columbia).

Next Time Out
Penn is on the road, traveling to Providence to take on Brown. Kickoff for that game is slated for 12:30 p.m.

Download: 07 game 6 - Yale.pdf