Breaking down last week’s Three Up Three Down is simple: the ups were right and the downs were wrong. That’s because the Quakers had to be on the up and up in every way to beat Harvard and they were. I predicted they’d be flagged a lot, struggle on third downs and struggle in the running game. They weren't, and they didn’t.
At least I nailed the positives, of which there were so many for Penn last week. Dave Twamley came up with another interception and Conner Scott had a few big catches, including a touchdown. And attendance was even pretty respectable. So who’ll be up and who’ll be down at Cornell?
Three Up —
Andrew Holland: This is Holland’s time to shine, and he couldn’t ask for a better setup for success. He’s going up against the Ivy League’s worst pass defense and looked more than tolerable under center in the final quarter against Harvard, throwing the dagger touchdown to Mitchell King. Up is better than backup, and Holland will get his moment.
Steve Lias: In his final collegiate game, Lias should keep up the stellar linebacker play of the last couple of weeks. Penn linebackers combined for six tackles for a loss and two sacks last week. Against Cornell’s mediocre offensive line, Lias and the rest of this linebacking corps should go out on top.
Field position: Cornell comes in ranked last in the Ivy League in kickoff returns and seventh in punt return average. Penn consistently secured great field position in the second half last week, and that shouldn’t change with senior super-punter Scott Lopano (who booted six punts inside the 20 against Harvard) on board for one final game.
Three down —
Secondary: It will be nearly impossible for Penn’s secondary to replicate last week’s performance, in which it held Harvard to just 174 net yards passing and accounted for two touchdowns. Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews will likely surpass that total and give Penn’s defensive backs a more sustained challenge.
Discipline: Penn had just two penalties for 15 yards last week, and the law of averages says the zebras won’t be so kind to the Quakers two weeks in a row. Penn ranks second-best among Ivies in penalties but is still averaging 5.33 penalties per game, so expect a little more laundry on Saturday.
Lyle Marsh: After carrying the ball 27 times for 133 yards last week, expect Marsh to shoulder less of the rushing load this week. With Billy Ragone out of the rushing equation and Jeff Jack coming off a quiet seven-carry, 12-yard performance on the ground, Jack should be a bigger factor in Penn’s backfield on Saturday. Meanwhile, Marsh could and should be utilized more as a receiving threat Saturday as senior Joe Holder will still be limited in the slot upon his return.