2013 Penn football banquet recap

On Friday, Penn football held its annual postseason banquet to celebrate the team’s 2012 Ivy League championship, honor the seniors, and hand out the individual awards to the outstanding performers from 2012. Here is a rundown of who took home the accolades from Friday night:

Edgar Church Memorial Award (Biggest Overall Contributor)
The team’s letterwinners voted for senior quarterback Billy Ragone to receive the Edgar Church Memorial Award. Ragone started nine games for the 2012 Ivy League champions. The honorable mention All-Ivy quarterback ranked sixth in the Ivy League in total offense, seventh in passing yards and ninth in rushing. He finished the season 118-of-210 passing for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for 476 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team with 1,764 yards of total offense.

Chuck Bednarik Award (Most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen)
Senior offensive lineman Joe Bonadies and senior defensive tackle Taylor Brown took home the Chuck Bednarik Award for their fantastic work in the trenches this season. Bonadies was a first-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy selection, as he started all 10 games at right tackle for the second consecutive season. Brown started all 10 games on the defensive side for the second straight year, recording three sacks along with eight tackles for loss.

George Munger Award (Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players)
Named after Penn's Hall of Fame coach, the George Munger Award was given to senior running back Lyle Marsh and senior captain Brandon Copeland. Marsh was a second-team All-Ivy selection as he led Penn and finished eighth in the Ivy League in rushing with 515 yards, finding the endzone six times. He also led Penn with 791 all-purpose yards, while his 5.4 yards per carry ranked fifth all-time at Penn in a single season. Copeland was Penn's first solo captain in 15 years and was named first-team All-Ivy. The defensive lineman led Penn and finished seventh in the Ivy League with five sacks and was second on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss.

Reds Bagnell Award (Unsung Heroes)
Senior tight end Ryan Allen and senior linebacker Steve Lias were handed the Reds Bagnell Award, named after Hall of Fame running back Francis (Reds) Bagnell. Allen played in all 10 games and finished the season with nine catches for 107 yards and 11.9 yards per catch. Lias started all 10 games for the Quakers, finishing with 43 tackles on the year in addition to three tackles for loss and two sacks.

George A. Weiss Award (Demonstrating “Pennsylvania kind of football”)
Junior offensive lineman Chris Bush
was honored to receive the George A. Weiss Award, given to the player who best displays the toughness and determination that represents the "Pennsylvania kind of football." Bush was a second-team All-Ivy selection and Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area honoree. He started nine games at center for the Ivy League champions and played through injury during most of Penn's season-ending four-game winning streak.

Football Club Award (Distinct Athletic Achievement)
The Football Club Award was given to junior wide receiver Conner Scott on offense, senior cornerback Dave Twamley on defense, and senior punter Scott Lopano on special teams. Sophomore tight end Mitchell King and sophomore linebacker Dan Davis also received the award as offensive and defensive rookies. Scott had 52 receptions for 691 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Twamley earned second-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Area honors as he led the team with 43 solo tackles. Lopano set Penn's career records for punts (184) and punt yards (7,111), while King played in all 10 games and finished with six catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

 Coach Lake Award (Leadership, Team Spirit, and Penn Pride)
Awarded for the first time in 2010, the Lake Award is presented in honor of Coach Dan "Lake" Staffieri, a team motivator for 33 seasons. Senior running back Jeff Jack was the recipient of the award for the 2012 season. Jack played in all 10 games, starting the last seven for the Red and Blue. He ran for 413 yards and had four rushing touchdowns on the season.

Man of the Year Award
Along with the awards given to the athletes, Hench Murray, C'66, GEd'67, was named the Man of the Year for his continued dedication to and support of Penn's football program. Murray played baseball while attending Penn, and has served as the color analyst for the football team for 33 seasons.

Five Penn players named first team All-Ivy

The Ivy League office today announced its All-Ivy teams, and five Penn players were named to the first team: DL Brandon Copeland, P Scott Lopano, OL Joe Bonadies, LB Dan Davis and DB Sebastian Jaskowski.

This is Copeland's third time on the first-team, something only 39 other players have done in the past (Brown DB AJ Cruz also earned his third first-team nod). He has a shot at being named one of the defensive finalists for Ivy Player of the Year, which will be announced next Tuesday.

None of Penn's first-team picks were unanimous selections. Also, Penn was outdone in first-team picks by Harvard, which had 10 first team All-Ivy nods and 19 total.

Eight others were named to the second team or honorable mention. Click the jump to see those: Continue reading

Three Up, Three Down: Cornell Edition

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.

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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.

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Three Up, Three Down: Princeton Edition

Last week’s predictions were mostly on the mark. Connor Loftus got “up” from his 21-yard miss at Yale to kick the game-winner against Brown and Penn’s tight ends stayed “up” and caught four receptions for 44 yards as quarterback Billy Ragone continued to spread the wealth from the pocket, hitting seven different receivers.

But Penn didn’t get behind in the early going, holding Brown’s potent first-half offense to just a field goal before halftime. So who’s up and who’s down on Saturday against Princeton?

Three up —

Conner Scott: After disappearing in the second half against Brown, expect to hear Scott’s number called more consistently at Princeton, which boasts the second-worst passing defense in the Ivy League. Scott abused two-time first-team All-Ivy Brown cornerback A.J. Cruz early and often last week, so he can make any defensive backfield look silly, let alone Princeton’s.

Jeff Jack: After rushing the ball less than both Ragone and Lyle Marsh for the first time all season last week, expect Jack to literally carry more of the load on Saturday. Jack looked good last week against the Ivy League’s second-ranked rushing defense, averaging 5.2 yards per carry against the Bears. Look for Marsh to be used more as a receiver to mitigate Princeton’s fearsome pass rush and exploit the Tigers’ suspect pass defense, leaving the ground game to Jack.

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Three Up, Three Down: Brown Edition


Last week’s predictions were hit or miss — Billy Ragone struggled more than I expected against Yale’s bottom-ranked scoring defense among Ivies. But I did call the Bulldogs’ gashing of Penn’s defensive front.  Ultimately, though, I would never have guessed that the egg that the Quakers laid at the Yale Bowl would be as big as it was.  So who’s up and who’s down against Brown? 

Three Up —

Tight ends:  In Joe Holder's absence and with Cameron Countryman not a safe bet just yet, tight ends Ryan Allen and Mitch King have been stepping up when needed as secondary targets for Ragone and Holland. King's 32-yard reception in the second quarter from Penn's own 10-yard line jumpstarted an 8-play, 89-yard drive that gave the Quakers their only touchdown of the game last week, and both TEs combined for three catches for 41 yards against Columbia. Brown will undoubtedly match two-time first-team All-Ivy cornerback A.J. Cruz up with Conner Scott, and that should make for quite a battle. Look for Penn's QBs to continue to look to King and Allen to exploit the rest of Brown's average secondary.

Dan Davis:  Davis led all Quakers at Yale with 10 tackles and showed flashes of impressive pursuit in both run and pass blitz situations. Still, his grasp of Penn's complex defensive schemes isn't quite where it needs to be per linebackers coach Dan Wood in this week's Penn Football Weekly.  Davis embodies the rest of the defense in that he has great athleticism, potential, and versatility (playing 11 different positions in high school), but he still isn't experienced enough to be great. Nevertheless, look for him to be a ballhawk Saturday.

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Three Up, Three Down: Yale Edition

I couldn’t have done any better with last week's predictions if I had a crystal ball. Scott Lopano was very “up,” earning Ivy Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Ryan Mitchell was also “up,” leading the Quakers in receiving. And Penn’s pass protection was indeed “down” all afternoon long. So who’s up and down this week?

Three Up —

Billy Ragone: Because he’s gotten better every game so far this season. Granted, he started out at the lowest of lows at Lafayette, but he hasn’t thrown a pick since then and is increasingly incorporating lesser-targeted receivers such as Mitch King and Ryan Allen into the passing game as teams start to blanket Conner Scott. Fourth-quarter comebacks do wonders for a quarterback’s confidence regardless of what happened in the previous three quarters. Ragone is a quarterback with momentum going up against the Ivy League’s worst scoring defense.

Conner Scott: Speaking of Scott, it doesn’t matter whether Yale decides to double him or not. They won’t be able to stifle him as much as Columbia did last week when the Lions held him to just 17 yards receiving on two catches. Ragone isn’t going to be going up against a defensive front as underrated and stout as Columbia’s was, so he should have more time to find Scott downfield. Scott has already established himself as the kind of player who just doesn’t have two quiet games in a row.

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Three Up, Three Down: Columbia Edition

Last week’s predictions were hit and miss. We definitely got a heavy dose of short passes last week, but we did not see as much from Andrew Holland as expected. No QBs in this week’s list though:

Three Up-

Scott Lopano:  This one’s more of a no-brainer than you might think.  Lopano ranks seventh in the nation  in punting average with 43.9 yards per punt this year, including two over 50 yards.  He has pinned eight of his 18 punts inside the 20-yard line.  If Lopano is able to routinely pin Columbia’s anemic offense  deep in its own territory, it could be lights out for the Lions pretty quickly.

Ryan Mitchell: With Joe Holder out for the year and Conner Scott routinely drawing double coverages, look for Mitchell to get more touches in the passing game. Mitchell currently ranks fourth on the team in receiving yards and is tied for fourth in receptions with Holder. Columbia ranks sixth in passing defense and seventh in passing defense efficiency, so you’d expect Mitchell to take on a more prominent role against the Lions this week.

Sebastian Jaskowski: Jaskowski leads all Ivy defensive backs in tackles and ranks sixth in tackles overall.  He’s been a steady hand in what has often been a shaky secondary this season, and it’s hard to imagine him getting burned much by the worst passing offense in the conference.

Three Down-

Pass protection:  The Lions have three players with at least two sacks this year, led by 2010 and 2011 All-Ivy senior defensive end Josh Martin. Columbia ranks third in the Ivy League in sacks, and Penn allowed four sacks last week to William & Mary. One of the few feasible ways Columbia can pull off the upset is to get consistent pressure from up front on Ragone and benefit from resulting turnovers.

Lyle Marsh as a receiver: Offensive coordinator Jon McLaughlin told me this week that he wants to see more downfield success in the passing game in addition to the high-percentage throws Ragone seems most comfortable throwing.  This game is the perfect opportunity to hook up with receivers who can extend the field like Conner Scott, but it might mean less touches for Marsh as a receiver.  William & Mary blitzed often last week, making Marsh a great safety valve for Ragone to throw to. (Marsh had eight receptions for 47 yards.)  But seven of Columbia’s 11 sacks this season have come from the defensive line, suggesting that the Lions may not have to blitz so much to get pressure.  With Penn potentially looking downfield more and Columbia not likely to sell out with the blitz, Marsh’s value as a receiver diminishes.

Kick returners:  Dan Wilk and Dexter Davis may not get a lot of kickoffs to return because the odds are that the Lions won’t be scoring very much.  In this case, kick returners being down means the rest of the team is up.

 

Game 1: Lafayette — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is back after a six-month hiatus and an interesting exchange with an invisible President by our series’ name sake, Clint Eastwood.

After four first-quarter interceptions put the Quakers behind, 21-0, they fought back but were unable to close the gap in a 28-21 loss (see game recap).

THE GOOD: Conner Scott and Lyle Marsh's successful return from injury. After season-ending injuries last season, Scott and Marsh looked great in their first game back. They were the Quakers’ top two receivers of the night. Scott had 12 catches for 161 yards and Marsh pulled in eight receptions for 66 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Now that opposing coaches have film on these two, these secret weapons might not be so secret anymore.

THE BAD: Billy Ragone’s first quarter interceptions. Ragone had five picks total on the night, but he looked especially off in the first quarter, throwing an interception in each of the first three drives. Take away the turnovers and the numbers look OK: 14-for-23 for 153 yards and a touchdown, plus 58 rushing yards and another touchdown. But five interceptions?! Sometimes, it seemed like Ragone was throwing to nobody.

THE UGLY: Taylor Brown's ejection. Senior nose guard Taylor Brown was ejected from the game after a blatant late hit on Lafayette quarterback Zach Zweizig in the second quarter. It will be interesting to see if he receives additional punishment from the coaching staff.