Football Renews City Rivalry With Villanova

PHILADELPHIA - Coming off a frustrating, 8-7 loss to three-time defending Patriot League champion Lafayette in its opener, Penn turns its eyes toward a local rival. The Quakers make a trip to the Main Line this weekend for a meeting with Colonial Athletic Association member Villanova.

GAME 2
Penn at Villanova
Saturday, Sept.22 * 6 p.m.
Villanova Stadium (Villanova, Pa.)
TV: CN8 (Scott Graham, John Richey)
Radio: WFIL 560 AM (Matt Leon, Hench Murray, Brian Seltzer)

Penn Game Notes (PDF)

Villanova Game Notes (PDF)

Hunting for an Ivy Crown
Penn was 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. Every game will also be streamed live at PennAthletics.com. 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-sgame, halftime and post-game shows. The pre-game show begins approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. This weekend’s halftime guest will be Bill Schmitz, the new offensive coordinator for the Quakers this season.

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 four times this year—vs. Lafayette, at Dartmouth, at Columbia, and the home game with Princeton.

On TV
Five of Penn’s 10 games this year will be televised, including tonight’s game at Villanova (on CN8). The Quakers’ games at Columbia and with Princeton will also air on CN8, and the Homecoming game with Yale 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, can be viewed or listened to live or archived online at PennAthletics.com 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. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WEEKEND, THE PENN SPORTS NETWORK WILL STREAM LIVE AUDIO OF THE GAME, BUT NOT LIVE VIDEO.

Who’s 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 played in all 10 games last year and 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 game 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 game 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.

Today’s Game
Penn is looking to recover from a frustrating, 8-7 loss last weekend to Lafayette in its season opener; Villanova, meanwhile, has won two in a row after dropping its season opener at Maryland. The Wildcats won at Lehigh on Sept. 8, then last weekend they gained a 24-17 overtime win against CAA rival Maine.

Updating a City Rivalry
Penn and Villanova are meeting for the fourth season in a row, the fifth time in six years, and the sixth time since 1999. Only one of those games took place here at Villanova Stadium—that would be the 2002 affair, which Villanova won 17-3. Every other game was played at Penn’s Franklin Field. These two teams originally met five times from 1905-11, with the Quakers winning all five handily (four by shutout). The teams then took a little break—like 69 years.

The Thrilla in Phila
Penn and Villanova have engaged in classic contests each of the last three years, with the Wildcats winning all of them. In 2004, the Quakers scored 13 late points to cut into a 16-0 Villanova lead, but could not climb all the way back. The last two years, the game has literally come down to the last play, with the Wildcats holding the Quakers after they drove deep into Villanova territory each time.

Last Time Out
Penn should have karma on its side this year after last year’s woes, right? Apparently the fates have other plans. The Quakers took a chance in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s season opener against Lafayette, having punter Anthony Melillo run out of the end zone for a safety with five minutes left in the game. That kept Penn in the lead, 7-5. However, Lafayette took the ensuing kickoff and ran off nearly the rest of the clock before Davis Rodriguez kicked a 27-yard field goal to clinch an 8-7 Leopards win.
Scouting the Wildcats
Villanova has won two in a row, most recently a 24-17 CAA win over Maine at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats running game is led by Matt Dicken, who has 226 yards in 59 attempts; quarterback Antwon Young has thrown for 611 yards and six TDs in this young season. He has completed 48 of his 72 passes this season, a 66.7 completion rate. Brandyn Harvey and Matthew Sherry have been Young’s favorite targets, with nine catches apiece, but Anton Ridley and Phil Atkinson are also right there with eight catches each. On defense, Darrel Young has 25 tackles.

The Luck Has to Change
Think about Penn’s last six losses, the five the Quakers suffered last year and this year’s season opener. In chronological order...
*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.

Penn Picked Second
Penn was picked to finish second in the Ivy League’s preseason football poll, which was announced at Ivy League Football Media Day in August. The poll was voted on by media members who cover Ancient Eight football, with two members per school represented. The Quakers received 110 voting points and picked up one first-place vote. Yale was picked to win the Ivies this year, receiving 125 voting points, while Harvard was third (95 points) and Princeton was fourth (87).
Yale, 125 voting points (14 first-place votes)
Penn, 110 (1)
Harvard, 95 (1)
Princeton, 87
Cornell, 62
Columbia, 44
Brown, 33
Dartmouth, 28

The Sandberg Show
Senior running back Joe Sandberg’s health will be a key to Penn’s chances tonight. The senior, who has 1,526 career rushing yards, had 85 on 17 carries during the first half last week against Lafayette. Then he went down with a leg injury; he was evaluated early in the week, and while he is listed on the two-deep he has been day-to-day.

Kelms at the Helm
Regardless of whether or not Sandberg can go this weekend, expect to see a lot of junior Kelms Amoo-Achampong out of the backfield. Last weekend, he had a career-high 15 rushes for 24 yards. Last year, Amoo-Achampong had 36 runs for 122 yards.

Irvin’s Career Day
Junior quarterback Robert Irvin threw for 2,128 yards last year as a sophomore, just the second QB in Penn history to do so (the other was Penn’s all-time leading passer, Gavin Hoffman). Irvin struggled a bit last weekend against Lafayette, completing 13-of-27 passes for 99 yards. He has been held to fewer passing yards just one time in his career—last year against Villanova, when he threw for 87 yards.

Airing It Out
Irvin got balls to seven different receivers in Penn’s season opener, with five guys making one catch apiece. Senior Braden Lepisto led the way with seven catches, tying a career high. Senior Dan Coleman had three catches in his first significant action since early last season.

On The Line
The offensive line figured to be a bit of an unknown heading into this season, but the Quakers held Lafayette without a sack last weekend. The Quakers returns two senior starters in the five spots, center Brian Brazinski and left guard Jesse Rigler. Junior Chris Kovalcik, who started a game last year at right guard, will move over one spot as a tackle while sophomore Matt Schaefer steps into the guard position. At the other end, senior Harry Kenning steps in at left tackle.

On The Other Side of the Ball...
Penn returns two All-Ivy starters on the defensive line—in addition to Harris, senior Tom Stone was an honorable mention All-Ivy pick as a defensive tackle a year ago despite not making a start. He certainly will today. On the other side, sophomore Joe Goniprow gets the nod.

End Runs
Senior Mike Marinelli will reprise his role at defensive end, and is joined on the other side by classmate Sam McGarity who looks to fill the shoes of graduated All-Ivy pick Jim Malizia.

Linebacker U?
The “other” Penn school up the road—Penn State—may lay claim to the title, but the Quakers certainly boast their share of great ‘backers through the years. The latest great is Joe Anastasio, who gobbled up 102 tackles last year, the most by a Penn player since 1997. He led the Quakers with 14 tackles last weekend vs. Lafayette. His mate at the position, Jay Colabella, had five tackles last weekend and also came up with an acrobatic interception in the middle of the field, the first of his career.

The Secondary
How deep is this position for Penn? Take a look at some of the numbers from Week 1. Junior Tyson Maugle had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and two pass breakups. Sophomore Chris Wynn, in his first collegiate start, made two INTs and had four tackles. Patrick Kimener had nine stops from his safety position, while Jordan Manning had seven. Both of them had a pass breakup, as well.

Punt Away
Senior Anthony Melillo returns as a two-time All-Ivy punter; last weekend, he had seven kicks, averaging 32.4 yards, and put four of them inside the 20.

Next Time Out
Penn opens Ivy League play next Saturday with a trip to Dartmouth, then returns home Oct. 6 against Georgetown.

Download: 07 game 2 - @Villanova.pdf