Three Up, Three Down: Harvard Edition

Returns were mixed on last week's predictions. Conner Scott wasn't up at all, catching just one pass for seven yards. Jeff Jack didn't carry the load as much as I forecasted either, but Dave Twamley came up with an interception to save Penn's Ivy title hopes in the fourth quarter. So who's looking up and who's looking down against Harvard? 

Three Up —

Dave Twamley: Cornerbacks coach Jon Dupont told me this week that Twamley is “the grandpa of the secondary,” and his experience in defensive coordinator Ray Priore’s complex schemes has been evident all season. Twamley currently ranks second on the team in tackles and came up with the interception that preserved Penn’s Ivy title hopes in the fourth quarter last week.  Twamley mentioned that Harvard’s offensive strategic continuity from last year is making for an easier time dissecting the Crimson ‘O’ in the film room this week, so maybe Twamley’s studying will pay some dividends when it matters most and keep him on the up and up.

Conner Scott: One catch, seven yards.  That was Scott’s stat line at Princeton, and so he really has nowhere to go but up this week against Harvard’s seventh-ranked pass defense, its Achilles heel.   Dartmouth wide receiver Michael Reilly, whose receiving stats are very similar to Scott’s this season, burnt the Crimson for 12 catches, 165 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago, so Scott is capable of that kind of performance against Harvard as well.

Attendance: If there aren’t signs of life in the stands for an NBC Sports Network-televised de facto Ivy championship game against Harvard, there’s a serious problem.  But chances are the casual Penn student/fan will make his way to the Frank to see what all the football buzz on-campus (yes, there’s a Penn athletics buzz on-campus outside of the Buzz this week) is about.

Three Down —

Running game: This one’s too easy. Harvard’s rushing defense has been ridiculous all year, giving up just 1.5 yards per carry and 43.4 rushing yards per game.  That’s 67 less rushing yards per game than Brown’s second-ranked rushing defense. While Penn’s rushing attack has momentum after a 211-yard performance at Princeton last week, it will be a major feat for the Quakers to even pass the century mark on the ground against the Crimson on Saturday.

Flags:  As in down on the ground.  If the rest of Harvard and Penn’s 2012 campaigns are any indication, there will be a lot of yellow laundry tossed upon Franklin Field this weekend. The Crimson have amassed more penalties and penalty yardage than any other Ivy team, averaging 59.2 penalty yards assessed to them per contest. And only three Ivies have racked up more penalties and penalty yardage than the Quakers this season.  But since this is the Ivy championship tilt, it seems discipline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Third-down situations: Harvard ranks first in both converting third downs and stopping opposing offenses on third down.  Penn struggled stopping Princeton on third down last week, allowing the Tigers to get a fresh set of downs 41 percent of the time on third down.  First-team All-Ivy tight end Kyle Juszczyk is a dynamic third-down receiver for Harvard and can make plays to move the chains from either the backfield or split end, so the Quakers will have to play tighter on third down on both sides of the football.

17 thoughts on “Three Up, Three Down: Harvard Edition

  1. Hopefully a fast start and better sense of focus will happen this week.

    The team should be fortunate to be in this position

    Go Penn

    DO BETTER THAN YOUR BEST

  2. I think the DP football analysts are missing the points about Harvard's run defense stats and pass defense stats. The reason Harvard D had surrendered so few running yards (and the secondary surrendering so many passing yards) is that the explosive Harvard offense often put the opposing teams into playing catch up early on--that means passing instead of running.
    The smart thing for Penn to do is to run the ball and control the clock, and keep the Harvard offense off field as much as possible. In this regards, good field position from strong special team plays would be critical.

  3. On November 13, 1982, 20 years ago I attended the Penn-Harvard football game at Franklin Field.There were almost 35,000 spectators in the stands that day. Penn had lost its first Ivy League game of the season to Princeton, 17-14, two weeks earlier. Harvard also had one League loss to Dartmouth, 14-12, who was also in the running for the crown. The winner of this game would be assured a piece of the Ivy Championship. Late in the fourth quarter, Penn drove deep into Harvard territory but was unable to score a TD. With seconds remaining and the Quakers losing, 21-20, Penn attempted a FG but it was bad and Harvard celebrated as time expired. At second glance a penalty flag was on the field and it was against the Crimson. Penn had new life. Once again the Quakers attempted a FG and this one was good. Penn won, 23-21, as the dejected Harvard players were lying on the field crying. Although Penn lost to Cornell in Ithaca the next week, 23-0, the Quakers won their first Ivy Football Championship since 1959, It had taken 23 years for Penn to get the title again. Penn shared the title that year with Harvard and Dartmouth but the losing spell was over. Since 1982 Penn would go on to win 13 more Ivy Football Championships ( 8 under Coach Bagnoli ).
    On Saturday at Franklin Field Penn again will meet Harvard and play for the Ivy Championship. Both teams are 4-1 in the Ivy League. With determination, consistency and discipline the Quakers have a chance to win their 16th Ivy Championship. We are peaking at the right time. Will deja vu bless Penn again? Let us hope so. BEAT HARVARD !!

  4. bigkahuna-While it's true that Harvard has gotten off to fast start after fast start this season, its run defense is hardly untested. The Crimson's last four opponents averaged 31.5 rushing attempts per game against them, even including Columbia's attempt to come back from infinity through the air last week. Harvard has three preseason first-team All-Ivies in its front seven that haven't disappointed, including two on its d-line. This is still comfortably the best Ivy run defense.

  5. Penn Grad,

    Just for the record, 1982 was 30 years ago, not 20. Hope you didn't think you were 10 years younger than you really are.

  6. @Ted
    I can dream can't I. At my age (74) what is a mere 10 years here and there.Thanks for bringing me back to reality.and reading my comment. Time does fly especially when the Quakers are victorious. At any rate, let's hope that Penn will win an Ivy title in 2012 like they did in 1982,
    30 YEARS AGO.

  7. Penn Grad,

    Very understandable mistake - I still remember that game like it was yesterday - It doesn't seem possible that 30 years have gone by since then.

    I was in the stands that day with my 2 (then young) children. To this day, it remains the most exciting sporting event of any kind I have ever attended, and I've seen a lot of them in my 63 years (of course, only a Penn fan would pick that game as # 1, but many other Penn grads, both older and younger than me, agree with me on that ranking). It is certainly the greatest Penn football game ever played. My son now works as a journalist, and I truly think that it was that game that put him on that path, because he immediately went home and wrote a story about it for his 2nd grade class.

    There is a great video of the final Penn drive, with none other than Merrill Reese doing the play by play, that can be seen on YouTube or on "letsgoquakers.com." If you've never seen it, google it NOW, it will give you chills. Somwhere in that post game melee are me and my kids.

    Here's hoping for another great victory by the Quakers on Saturday, but I don't think my heart could take another one like that one on that chilly November day in 1982.

    GO QUAKERS!

  8. @Ted
    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INFO ABOUT THE WEBSITE LETSGOQUAKERS.COM. I am reliving so many happy memories of yesterday. I am young again.
    I graduated Penn in June, 1960.

  9. @Ted
    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THE INFO ON THE LETSGOQUAKERS.COM WEBSITE. I AM RELIVING MY YOUTH AS I WATCH THOSE WONDERFUL MEMORIES FROM YESTERYEAR.
    I graduated Penn in June, 1960. My freshman year was the first official year of Ivy Football competition. My senior year saw the Quakers win their first Ivy League Football Championship (1959). I now can watch many of the games I attended over the past 57 years. Thanks again.
    LET'S GO QUAKERS ! BEAT HARVARD !

  10. Penn Grad,

    I am truly delighted that I was able to restore your youth. Who knew that 'letsgoquakers.com" was such a magic elixir? But I guess the secret is out now..

  11. Penn Grad,

    Please don't watch all those old videos all at once, or else you will go so far back in time that you will disappear...

  12. @Ted & Penn Grad - The '82 game was the most exciting Penn FB game, but the most exciting Penn SPORT event for me was the great and undefeated BB team's victory over Villanova at the packed Palestra. (Though Booney Salter's falling jump shot in the magic '79 season is also right up there too.)

  13. Ernie,

    My vote for best BB game was the 1971 Penn-Princeton game at the Palestra, in which Corky Calhoun tied it at the buzzer with a 15 footer, and the Quakers went on to win in OT. I wasn't at the Nova game that year, but I did see it on TV, and it was indeed a classic - gets my vote for 2nd best, because I wasn't there in person.

  14. @All - This exchange is a visible demonstration of the power and value of a successful sports program to both unite and exert a gravitational type force on alums to stay connected to the school. It cuts across generations, and I trust Mr. Klitzman won't mind my pointing out his father was also from my class of '66.

    A concern remains that many undergrads receive a great education and then "pass through" Penn. Maybe there's another vehicle other than sports that attracts and unites, but I've failed to see it at homecomings. Perhaps it's a generational thing, and I'm simply unaware of the alternatives, if any.

  15. Ernie,

    Amen!

    My father, brother and son all were/are Penn alums also. The stories throughout the generations are an amazing history. My father attended in the 20's, and would regale me with stories about the greats of that era that he saw play at FF, including Red Grange. My brother was there in the early 50's, and saw Penn play the likes of Notre Dame, etc. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived in the late 60's, the football team had long since lowered its standards, and had fallen on somewhat hard times, but then in the 80's, along came Jerry Berndt, the savior. By the 90's, when my son was there, Penn was an (Ivy) power in both FB and BB - the early Bagnoli and Dunphy years.

    Things keep evolving, but hopefully always on an upward spiral. As you said, there is certainly no harm in having consistently successful sports programs, ones inwhich students and alums can all be proud.

  16. Wonderful and poignant words by EN

    This exchange is a visible demonstration of the power and value of a successful sports program to both unite and exert a gravitational type force on alums to stay connected to the school. It cuts across generations, and I trust Mr. Klitzman won't mind my pointing out his father was also from my class of '66.

    This is why Penn sports are so important!

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