By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Penn Quakers play their Ivy League opener on Saturday as they make the long trip up to Hanover, New Hampshire to tangle with Dartmouth.
Penn brings an 0-2 record into this one, with losses to Lafayette and Villanova on their resume. But for Penn, as with all the teams in the Ancient 8, it is all about league play.
“We’re fortunate that the emphasis gets placed so much on an Ivy League championship that those non-league games, although you want to win them, really doesn’t hurt you in any capacity toward the league championship,” Penn head coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio. “So we’ve got to be able to capitalize on playing two really good teams, learn from them, understand what our strengths and weaknesses are and then hopefully be able to put that, as we start the Ivy season, into play.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Al Bagnoli:
Last year Dartmouth had the Quakers on the ropes, before a touchdown with 17-seconds remaining gave Penn a 22-20 win. This season the Big Green bring a 2-0 record into Saturday and Bagnoli says they are playing well.
“Well I think it’s a little bit more confidant team than we’ve seen in the past. They’ve got pretty good balance in terms of run and pass. They are playing hard on defense. And as anybody knows who plays there, it’s a tough place to play. It’s a long trip, you have to deal with six-and-a-half, seven hours on the bus. Usually the weather is not favorable, so there’s a lot of issues we’re going to have to contend with. But we anticipate it being a full, 60-minute game and we’ll have to play well to win.”
Dartmouth’s defense is off to a strong start, they have allowed just 17 points, total, in their two games and Bagnoli says that unit can cause problems.
“They’re an even front, four man down, with two linebackers and a third outside linebacker/strong safety and they are pretty aggressive,. They’ll play a combination of zone and man, they’ll pressure you and they do a nice job of fitting in versus the run. They always seem to get one extra guy at the point of attack than you can block, so it will be incumbent upon our running backs to make a kid miss in space or for us to try to get creases and us trying to get some match-ups and angles that are favorable for us.”
Penn and Dartmouth will kick-off at noon on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.