By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After completing one of the toughest non-league schedules in recent memory for any team, the 1-3 Penn Quakers now focus on Ivy league play as they welcome Columbia to Franklin Field on Saturday.
That Quakers non-league slate featured a road trip to Lafayette and home games against perennial Colonial Athletic Association powers Villanova and William and Mary. Penn lost all three, but battled in every game and last week against William and Mary, Penn actually had a chance to win on the last play, but a final throw into the end zone fell incomplete. It should be noted that the two games against CAA teams, were sandwiched around Penn’s Ivy opener – a 28-21 win over Dartmouth after a long bus trip up to Hanover, New Hampshire.
Head coach Al Bagnoli talks about what he’s learned about his team after a challenging first four weeks of the season.
“That they have a little bit of mental toughness, they have a little bit of resolve in them. I think that’s, in our league and probably in the sport of football in general, two really good attributes to have. Because you’re going to hit adversity, I don’t think there is any program in the country that doesn’t have it. So your ability to overcome it, your ability to fight back from negative things, I think, to a great deal, is going to define what kind of season you have.”
LISTEN: Matt Leon interviews Al Bagnoli
Columbia comes into this game 1-3 and last week they lost at Lehigh 35-14. Bagnoli says they present serious problems up front on defense.
“The strength of Columbia is on the defensive line. I think they are a terrific front four. No one’s really blocked them well, no one’s really run the ball well against them, they pressure the quarterback, they clog the running lanes.”
On offense, Columbia is averaging less than eleven points a game, but Bagnoli says you can’t overlook them.
“I think they cause you a lot of schematic headaches. They do a really good job of overloading zones in the pass game, getting extra blockers in the run game and so we’ll have to play well.”
Penn has dominated Columbia for years, winning the last 15 games in this series. Columbia’s last win came in October of 1996.
The Quakers and the Lions will kick-off at 1:00pm on Saturday at Franklin Field.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.