By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Fresh off their first win of the season in their Ivy league opener, the Penn Quakers will wrap up non-league play on Saturday when they host William and Mary of the Colonial Athletic Association.
The 1-2 Quakers won at Dartmouth this past Saturday 28-21, jumping out to a 20-0 lead and then holding on down the stretch.
“We’re making good progress. But we still have work to do,” head coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio. “We’re still playing with some young kids that aren’t playing as consistently as we eventually want them to be. A lot of it is hard for us to evaluate because of who they’re playing against. When you compare the way they played against Dartmouth relative to the way they played against some of the other schools (Lafayette and Villanova), there’s a difference. There is an improvement. So I need to see the maturation continue, I need to see us continue to develop depth and continue to bring along some of our young guys, I think we’ll need them down the road.”
William and Mary is just 1-4, but that record is deceiving. One of their losses was to Maryland by a point and they come from what many regard as the premier conference in FCS, the CAA.
“Obviously it’s a challenging game for us,” Bagnoli says. “They are one of the perennial powers in the CAA. I call the CAA the SEC of our level. From top to bottom, they are really athletic. They’re big, they’re physical.”
The Quakers are quite familiar with top level CAA play as they battle Villanova every year (lost 24-8 this season), but Bagnoli says the Tribe play a much different style than the Wildcats, presenting a fresh set of problems.
“They have the same kind of athletes, but they want to attack you differently. They want to be more of a running game, inside the tackles, power, down block, kick-out, double-team, tight ends in the game. They have a little bit more physical approach, where Villanova spreads you out. They’re (Villanova) trying to run option football then they’re trying to get balls to the corner and get their athletes in space. These guys want to run behind the tight ends and the o-line. So it will be interesting to see if we can hold up physically.”
Penn and William and Mary haven’t played since October of 1995. In that game, current Washington Nationals infielder Mark DeRosa threw five interceptions as Penn’s quarterback. One of them was returned for a touchdown by future NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper for the Tribe. Current Quakers tight ends coach Mark Fabish had a big day as a Penn player – returning a punt for a score, but Penn lost 48-34.
Quakers and the Tribe kick-off at 3:30pm on Saturday at Franklin Field.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.