Penn (0-0) at No. 22 Lafayette (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006 - 1p.m.
Fisher Field - Easton, Pa.
Radio: WFIL 560 AM / PennAthletics.com
Game Notes (PDF format)
Penn opens its 130th season of football with Lafayette at newly-renovated Fisher Field. The game marks the renewal of Penn's oldest non-league rivalry; this is the first meeting between the Quakers and the Leopards since 2002.
Hunting for an Ivy Crown
Penn was selected second in the Ivy League's preseason media poll, behind Harvard and ahead of defending champion Brown. The Quakers picked up 99 votes overall, including a pair of first-place votes, while Harvard had 116 (nine first-place) and Brown 94 (three first-place). The full poll can be found on Page 3 of this week's notes.
On the Radio
Thanks to a new deal inked during the offseason, 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 fourth season together in the booth. This season also marks Murray's 26th providing color commentary for Quaker broadcasts. Brian Seltzer returns for his third season as the crew's sideline reporter. The pre-game show begins approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. Former Penn cornerback Duvol Thompson will be the halftime guest on this week’s broadcast.
Six of Penn's 10 games this year will be televised, beginning this afternoon with the Lafayette Sports Network's telecast on WBPH/RCN4. Four of the Quakers' games will be featured on CN8 (Villanova, Yale, Princeton and Harvard), and the Homecoming game with Brown will be televised nationally on College Sports Television (CSTV).
Head Coach Al Bagnoli is hunting for his 100th win at Penn this afternoon. The 15th-year head coach has a 99-38 record with the Quakers, and his 185 career wins are second-best among active NCAA Division I-AA coaches.
New Faces on the Sideline
Four new coaches will assist Bagnoli on the sidelines this year. Offensive coordinator Shawn Halloran moves in from the head spot at Franklin & Marshall to replace Andy Coen, who departed for the top job at Lehigh. Rick Ulrich returns to the Quakers for his second stint as wide receivers coach after offensive coordinator jobs at Georgetown, Trinity and Ursinus. Jon McLaughlin will be the offensive line coach, moving from a graduate assistantship at Iowa. Cornerbacks coach Jon Dupont comes to Penn from a similar position at Trinity.
Revisiting An Old Rivalry
While Penn and Lafayette haven't met in recent years, the two are hardly unfamiliar with each other. The Leopards are Penn's most consistent and familiar non-League opponent, with 82 games between the two teams since 1882. Penn leads the series 60-18-4. The Quakers also have the upper hand in season openers with a 15-1 advantage.
Penn has won its last five season openers, spanning back to a 37-0 shutout of Lafayette at Fisher Field on Sept. 21, 2001. The Quakers have dominated their first opponent in each of those five games, winning by a combined 242-63 and never scoring fewer than 37 points. All-time, Penn is an impressive 100-29-1 in season openers and 10-4 under Bagnoli.
Breaking in Fisher Field
Lafayette will be playing for the first time in its new-look Fisher Field following a $23 million renovation effort on the stadium. Among the improvements are a FieldTurf playing surface, lights, new seating, a new press box, and improved fan amenities. The stadium originally opened in 1923.
The Ninth Ivy
You can be forgiven for thinking that Lafayette has joined the Ivy League for the 2006 season. The Leopards start off four straight games against Ivy League competition today. After Penn, the Leopards will visit Princeton, host Yale and visit Harvard on consecutive Saturdays.
Seniors Sean Estrada (OL) and Scott Williams (DB) have been selected Penn’s captains for the 2006 season by their teammates. Both are returning starters and 2005 All-Ivy Honorable Mention selections.
Who's Under Center?
The spring and training camp battle for quarterback didn't quite produce a clear winner as expected, and the decision on who will be Penn's opening-day starter will be a game-time one. Both junior Bryan Walker and sophomore Robert Irvin were impressive in camp, and one of them will be today's starter.
In the Backfield
Second-team All-Ivy running back Joe Sandberg returns for his senior season as the team’s top run threat. Sandberg averaged 5.2 yards per carry in nine games last year, averaging 44.3 yards per game, but was also a huge all-purpose threat for the Quakers, averaging 40.8 yards per game receiving and 98.4 all-purpose yards per game. Kelms Amoo-Achampong, who saw limited action last year, will be second on the depth chart. Nick Cisler will start at fullback.
The Passing Targets
Overall, the Quakers have a lack of experience at the wide receiver spot, but several key players return with experience. Senior Matt Carre starts at wide-out after ending 2005 with 29 catches and 445 yards. Junior Dan Coleman was impressive in camp and is expected to secure the other starting wide receiver spot. Tight end Chris Mizell, a two-time honorable mention All-Ivy selection, proved to be a double threat last year. The 6-4, 250 lbs. senior accounted for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 17 catches last year, and was also a major blocking asset for the Quakers.
On the Line
Plenty of experience will help carry the offensive line this season. All five are experienced returners, and the left side of the line Sean Estrada and Marko Grzan are returning starters and All-Ivy honorees. Brian Brazinski will start at center, with Jesse Rigler at right guard and Andrew Wietstock at right tackle.
On the Other Side
The Quaker defensive front promises to be one of the most experienced and talented units in the Ivy League. Five starters return to the front seven, and four of them are 2005 All-Ivy picks: Brian Fairbanks (DT), Naheem Harris (NG), Jim Malizia (DE) and Kory Gedin (LB). J.J. Stanton returns to start at tackle, Mark Herman moves to a starting role at end, and Joe Anastasio will pair with Gedin at linebacker.
The Quaker secondary, however, is not so experienced. While senior captain and honorable mention All-Ivy Scott Williams returns at safety and starting cornerback Greg Ambrogi is also back, the rest of the depth chart reveals plenty of new faces. Tyson Maugle will start at the other corner spot, while sophomore Jordan Manning is expected to start at safety.
Special teams will see plenty of experience return. Junior all-Ivy punter Anthony Melillo stepped into a starting role last year and performed well, averaging 38.1 yards per punt, including three kicks over 60 yards and 17 inside the 20-yard line. Junior placekicker Derek Zoch was 11-of-17 on field goals last year, and tied a program record with four in a game at Columbia. Ted Rosenbaum will be the team’s long-snapper, while Scott Williams will reprise his role as holder. There is plenty of speed to choose from for the return game. Greg Ambrogi and Matt Carre are both extremely quick options, while running back Sam Shepherd, who is a standout sprinter for the Penn track team, may make some noise as well after returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Penn’s scrimmage against Widener on Sept. 1.
Fast Start for the Leopards
Lafayette has had a dominating start the season, winning at Sacred Heart 25-14 before roughing up Bucknell in Lewisburg, 31-0, last weekend. The Leopards have a chance to go to 3-0 for the first time since 1988 if they can get past Penn. Thanks to the 2-0 start, Lafayette is ranked 22nd in the nation in last Monday’s Sports Network Top 25 poll. They are also ranked 21st in the College Sporting News Coaches’ Poll.
Keeping an Eye on Maurer
How big of a threat is Lafayette signal caller Brad Maurer? Against Bucknell, the senior not only completed 12 of his 19 passes for 252 yards, but he also scrambled for a 72-yard touchdown run on the team’s second offensive series. Maurer ended up with nine runs for 93 total yards, and surpassed two major career milestones: the career 3,000-yard passing mark and the 1,000-yard rushing mark (although negative yardage pulled that back to 992 yards by the end of the night).
Leopard tailback Jonathan Hurt came up just one yard shy of his fifth consecutive 100-yard game, but had a pair of touchdowns to extend his streak of multi-touchdown games to five. He has four TD’s in two games this season.
Lafayette’s defense has been no slouch so far this season, either. In addition to shutting out Bucknell, the Leopard D is allowing just 233 yards of total offense per game and has allowed just two touchdowns - one rushing, one passing.
Taking Care of the Ball
Lafayette has not committed a turnover in two games yet this season, and it’s the first time in 70 games under Head Coach Frank Tavani that that’s occurred in consecutive games.
This season represents several milestone anniversaries for members of the Penn football family. Dan “Coach Lake” Staffieri, the team’s emotional leader on game day who has more Ivy championship rings than fingers, celebrates his 30th season with Penn. Defensive coordinator Ray Priore enters his 20th season, and Penn equipment manager Mark Stewart is in his 20th season as well. Head Coach Al Bagnoli, defensive line coach Jim Schaefer and quarterbacks coach Larry Woods each begin their 15th seasons on the sidelines. The Penn football program itself marks its 130th year in 2006, while the Ivy League celebrates its 50th anniversary.
“Invincible” Makes a Splash
The Disney feature film “Invincible,” about the life of former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale, was released this summer and has earned over $45 million at the box office. Much of the film’s game action was shot at Franklin Field, which can be seen in the try-out scenes, and Veteran’s Stadium was digitally recreated based on footage shot at Penn’s historic stadium.
Former Penn quarterback and two-sport star Mark DeRosa is having a breakout season as an infielder with the Texas Rangers. Through the weekend of Sept. 9, DeRosa was batting .316 in 453 at-bats with 69 RBI and 13 home runs. Earlier in the summer, he was named American League Player of the Week on Aug. 14 after hitting .433 with a .900 slugging percentage and 15 RBI in seven games ... Former Penn running back Jim Finn will once again be the New York Giants’ starting fullback this season ... Former DB Duvol Thompson, who spent last year with the Baltimore Ravens, will appear on this week’s radio halftime show.
This is the 130th season of Penn football ... While Penn's first season of football was 1876, no intercollegiate team was fielded in 1877 but football has been played every year since ... Penn and Lafayette first met on Nov. 25, 1882, in Philadelphia, with the Quakers winning by scoring a goal and three touchdowns to the Leopards' two safeties ... The last time Penn played a ranked opponent was in a 31-10 loss to No. 15 Harvard on Nov. 13, 2004 ... Penn has not been shut out since losing to Harvard, 33-0, on Nov. 15, 1997, a span of 80 games ... The Quakers have won their last eight games against Patriot League teams. The last loss was to Holy Cross, 34-17, on Oct. 7, 2000 ... The Penn football offices were renovated over the summer and will be dedicated in honor of Jack LeFort, Sr., W’48 prior to the Dartmouth game on Sept. 30 .. Part of the renovation includes display areas commemorating Penn’s football history.
Next Time Out
Penn hosts Villanova in the home opener on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The game will be the only prime-time contest the Quakers have this year, and it will be televised on CN8. The Quakers will look to avenge a heartbreaking 28-24 loss last year. Last year’s game between the city rivals drew a season-high 23,257 fans to Franklin Field, and was the best-attended college football game in the city of Philadelphia in 2005 other than Army-Navy at Lincoln Financial Field.
Download: Game 1 notes - Lafayette.pdf