Thursday, October 13, 2016

Scouting Penn

Before we get to Penn, it's important to note that we'll probably be in the dark about who is and who isn't starting for Columbia due to injuries until the actual kickoff. Wide receivers Josh Wainwright and Scooter Hollis are not on the two-deep, but I wouldn't be surprised if they both play on Saturday.

One World Sports, a cable network I get on FIOS but I know not everyone else gets, is covering the game live. I knew this before the season started, but just found out that One World is going to be using its own broadcast team to do the game as opposed to just simulcasting the Ivy Digital Network announcing crew. I'll be at Franklin Field of course, but I'll have to check out the job they do on the DVR later in the weekend.

Alek Torgersen

Penn looked like the best team in the Ivies coming into this season. I had no problem picking them to win the title in my preseason league preview. Then the first two games of the season happened, and it looked like the Quaker defense needed some real work. Penn was 0-2 after giving up lots of yards and points to Lehigh and Fordham. Things didn't look so great in Philly.

But after a strong win over Dartmouth in Hanover and a relatively easy victory over Central Connecticut last Saturday, the Quakers look like they're back in a groove.

The offense is led by QB Alek Torgersen, who the Penn coaches are still protecting after he suffered a broken leg last year. He's completing 64% of his passes, has a steady 5-1 TD-to-INT ratio, runs the ball well, and has the whole team leader role down pat.

The offensive line, a unit some were questioning coming into the season, has been mostly fine based on the average 181 rushing yards the Quakers have enjoyed so far this season. The nine sacks allowed is a bit of a concern, but Penn has gone from allowing six sacks in the first two games to just three in the last two combined.

RB Tre Solomon has done most of the rushing work after splitting the job with the still-present Brian Schoenauer last season. Solomon is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 93 yards per game with four total TD's.

The receivers are led by All America candidate Justin Watson. Watson is averaging seven receptions per game, but only has two TD's so far. Christian Pearson is also a very dangerous weapon through the air.

Penn's defense has had a mixed year, but it has some stars. Syracuse transfer Colton Moskal is having the breakout year I thought he might after being relatively quiet last year. The 3-4 Quaker defense has a bevvy of strong linebackers led by Moskal and Daniel Panciello. It's their strongest unit.

The Penn secondary, based on stats alone, has been often-maligned. That may be the result of the fact that the Quakers have simply played better passing teams all season long. The fact is that DB's Mason Williams, Sam Phillippi, and Jyron Walker are pretty good. It will be very interesting to see how they perform against a program that's struggling more in its passing game like Columbia.

Quaker special teams are lead by two outstanding kickers. PK Jimmy Gammill has made 49 PAT's in a row, but he hasn't hit a FG longer than the 23-yarder he made at Fordham so far this year. He's 0 for 2 from 30-39 yards out. Punter Hunter Kelly has been hot with an average well over 40 yards a kick and plenty of boots inside the 20. Lead punt and kick returner Lonnie Tuff can be dangerous as he's averaging a lofty 14 yards per punt return and a good 21 yards per kickoff return.

But more important than the stats is the fact that Penn is getting into a groove right now. They are definitely looking to register their first definitive blowout of the season against the Lions this weekend.

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