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.

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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This Week on 33rd Street: Oct. 26

The slow starts offensively and inability to stop opposing passers finally caught up to Penn football last Saturday, when the team dropped its first Ivy contest to Yale, 27-13, in New Haven (see story). The Quakers will have a chance to redeem themselves this Homecoming weekend against Brown at Franklin Field, but can they? Senior Sports Editor Megan Soisson and football writer Karl Bagherzadeh give you their take:

Three Up, Three Down: The William & Mary Edition

Once again we predict three players whose stock will rise and three players whose stock will fall over the course of Penn’s clash with the Tribe on Saturday:

Three Up —

Andrew Holland: Penn will fight hard to win Saturday, but this game is about staying healthy as much as it is getting a ‘W'. Thus you can expect to see a heavier dose of Holland under center than usual this week as coach Al Bagnoli has always been quick to point out the “bumps and bruises” Ragone endures due to his hybrid style. William & Mary safeties Ivan Tagoe and Brian Thompson each have two interceptions and the team has seven picks total in just five games this season, and no matter who the Penn QB is, the Tribe is going to force the Quakers to go deep. Enter Holland.

Dan Wilk: If only because he’s “up” every game. Last week he led the Quakers with eight tackles and registered a sack, one of only four Penn has notched all season. He also has one of only two Penn interceptions so far in 2012. Wilk is also the only defensive back with a sack and simply one of the few explanations in an otherwise weak secondary for Penn’s No. 1-ranked pass defense among Ivies. (Yes, it's true.) There’s no reason why Wilk’s solid play shouldn’t continue against William & Mary’s strained aerial attack.  Continue reading

Mano-A-Mano: Splitting up the carries

Last week we discussed which part of Penn’s offense should be the focus (see story), and after Saturday’s game, football columnist Karl Bagherzadeh said the Quakers should go with the run game. In this week’s Mano-A-Mano, football writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor Megan Soisson debate how Penn’s backs should be used.

John Phillips: The Quakers have a ton of RBs, and if they plan to run the ball every game as often as they did against Dartmouth, that’s not a bad thing at all. But the distribution of the carries seems off to me. Jeff Jack had the brunt of the carries for the Quakers — including 18 on Saturday — but wasn’t productive, averaging just 2.9 yards per attempt.

Why not let Lyle Marsh or Spencer Kulcsar, backs who have proven to possess big play potential, get more carries and see if they can jump start the ground game?

Megan Soisson: I’m honestly not sure if I can even attempt to explain half the personnel decisions Al Bagnoli and his staff makes, but heck, I’ll give it a go.  Continue reading

Mano-A-Mano: Pass vs. Run

This week, we’re breaking from Mano-A-Mano tradition and having a Womano-A-Womano.

So far this season, it’s clear the Quakers rely more on their passing game than their running game. But should that be the case? Senior Sports Editor Megan Soisson and football beat writer Anna Strong break down the Penn offense and debate which unit is serving the Red and Blue better.

Anna Strong: Of the 723 yards of total offense the Quakers have through the first two games of the season, 486 of them — roughly 67 percent — have come from passing. Penn completes 63 percent of its attempts and averages 10.3 yards per catch.

Averaging a first down per reception is a good sign, and the fact that 27 of Penn’s 39 first downs came from passes shows that Ragone and Holland are capable of making those crucial plays.

Megan Soisson: That first down stat is padded because Penn chooses to pass the ball 57 percent of the time, though most of that came in the first week. And Penn can’t find a happy medium through the air — it’s either seven interceptions or 142 yards. Neither is impressive. Continue reading

30 Seconds with Jeff Jack

It's officially game week for the Penn football team, so in recognition of that I present 30 Seconds with Jeff Jack: The Extended Version.

If you like what he has to say, wait until Friday's football supplement … I have a whole feature coming about Jack, Lyle Marsh and Brandon Colavita. You'll love the name they have for themselves.

Who would you like to see "30 Seconds" with?