Penn football’s spring season culminated on Saturday with its annual inter-squad Spring Game. We give you our biggest takeaways from the offensive side of the ball
With senior quarterbacks Billy Ragone and Ryan Becker departed, the Quakers’ quarterback competition is the biggest positional battle to keep an eye on heading into the 2014 season.
Freshman quarterback Alek Torgereon, who showed flashes of potential against Cornell last season, started the first two series, and was followed by junior Patton Chillura.
The main battle appears to be between Torgersen and Chillura, as the two split that majority of the snaps behind center. The focus was also clearly on the passing games, as handoffs were few and far between, apart from the short yardage situations.
One did not clearly outperform the other, as both QB’s completed roughly a third of their passes for under 60 yards along with a TD and a pick.
Both quarterbacks struggled and looked out of sync with their wideouts early on, as the pair went a combined 0-for-8 with a pick in the first four series.
The early struggles were not too surprising given the lack of experience the two arms have, couple with the wind the was swirling through Franklin Field on Saturday.
The QBs eventually started to find more of a rhythm, and both were able to execute pretty touchdown passes to a tight end – Torgersen a 19-yarder to Mitch King, and Chillura a nine-yard connection to Ryan Kelly.
One piece of good news given the inexperience of Penn’s quarterbacks is that they have a handful of tall, talented weapons to throw to this season.
Sophomore QB Andrew Lisa also got a few snaps, completing a five-yard pass, and scrambling for 20 yards.
Freshman QB Adam Strauss saw the field as well, although his role is still undefined according to coach Al Bagnoli. Strauss did not throw a pass and instead worked on running the ball in short yardage situations.
In his limited amount of action running the ball, junior Kyle Wilcox displayed his ability to both plunge up the middle and scamper outside for chunks of yardage, as the Quakers have come to expect.
Sophomore Mike Elespuru and freshman Ryan Ripp also saw considerable action in the backfield.
Holes proved hard to come by, as both backs averaged under two yards on the day.
The Quakers’ line will certainly be something to keep an eye on, given that it endured some struggles last year, and will need to provide as much help as possible to the Quakers’ inexperience signal callers this year.
Junior flex-back Spencer Kulcsar – who led the Quakers with 110 carries last season – saw minimal time in the backfield, and rather spent his time in the slot at receiver.
Kulcsar corralled a handful of short-to-intermediate passes, and provided one of the day’s highlights when he broke a tackle in the left flat and bolted for a long touchdown.
Looking at the backfield situation, Wilcox will likely be the man, and Elespuru should be expected to see an increase from his 24 carry total last year, especially with Kulcsar playing wide receiver more often, according to Bagnoli.
Wilcox and Elespuru will play critical roles this year, as the experienced backs will likely often be called upon to both establish and extend drives.
With standout seniors Conner Scott and Ty Taylor returning, the receiving corps should be one of Penn’s biggest strengths in 2014. Scott and Taylor saw a handful of snaps, but Saturday was mostly about giving other receiving hopefuls reps.
6-foot-3 junior Cole Stern, who didn’t see any action last year, had himself a nice day in the slot, hauling in two balls for a team high 33 receiving yards.
Fellow junior Danny Gallagher also found himself busy, and posted a team-high three receptions.
Sophomore Christian Stapleton lined up outside on a significant number of snaps, but didn’t find himself in the mix.
Freshman Danny Ferens continued to show potential, making a nice catch over the middle in his limited action.
The one real deviation from the typical gameplan was a jet sweep to freshman Mason Bryant, which went for three yards.
The tight ends had a solid showing on Saturday, catching the only two touchdown passes of the day. Mitchell King’s score was particularly impressive, as he was able to make an adjustment and climb the ladder to haul in a Torgersen pass in the back corner of the end zone.
As indicated in the Spring Game, the Quakers are going to look to take advantage of the size advantage their tight ends give them in the red zone – Ryan Kelly is 6-foot-4, King is 6-foot-6 and Ryan O’Malley is 6-foot-5.
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