2009 was a great season for the Penn Quakers’ football team. The team went 8-2 overall and 7-0 in the Ivy League for their first Ivy League crown on the gridiron since 2003.
For the team to have another outstanding season in 2010, certain questions will have to be answered. Among them will be the play of the offensive line, the defensive line, and the tight ends. Practice begins on August 24 and the team opens play on September 18 at home against Lafayette.
Four starters are back from 2009 on the offensive line. Among them are Preseason All-American Joe D’Orazio at center, second-team All-Ivy player Luis Ruffalo at left guard, honorable-mention All-League honoree Greg Van Roten at left tackle and right tackle Jared Mollenbeck. Drew Luongo who missed last season with an injury is back after starting 10 games in 2008.
The offensive line was a key cog in last season’s Ivy League Championship run. They gave up just six sacks in the final nine games in 2009 and finished atop the Ivy League in fewest sacks allowed.
“Consistency was the key for us last season,” Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach Jim McLaughlin said on the Penn Athletics’ website. “That will be key for us again this season. We were able to develop some consistency last season and will hopefully be able to maintain that this season. We started a different quarterback, I think, in five of the first six games last season.”
On the defensive line, the Quakers will miss two-time All-Ivy defensive tackle Joe Goniprow. Goniprow drew double teams last season which allowed the Penn defense to lead the Ivy League in sacks in 2009. The team suffered a crushing blow on April 26 with the suicide of defensive lineman Owen Thomas who was second-team All-League last season.
Drew Goldsmith led the team in sacks in 2008 and is back this season after missing all of last season with an injury. Nose guard Brian Wing has seen a lot of time over the last two seasons and will be replacing Goniprow. The starting defensive line should be a solid unit in 2010 but it will count on many non-starters to provide depth at those positions which will be key.
“I think we have a lot of our guys back who led the Ivy League in sacks last year and hopefully that will help,” Penn defensive line coach Jim Schaefer said on the Penn Athletics’ website. “Hopefully, we can lead the league in sacks again this year, but first we’ll have to stop the run game which we were able to do last year.”
Penn has tremendous depth at the tight end position which is needed for a position the Quakers rely on to both block for the run game and to catch the ball in the passing game. The Quakers had seven tight ends on the roster last season and all are back in 2010.
Three of the seven have playing experience. Senior Ryan Murray has 20 games under his belt, junior Luke Nawrocki was All-Ivy last season and is back as is sophomore Ryan Allen who played in two games as a freshman in 2009.
“We’re really excited about what we have coming back for us at the tight end position,” Penn tight ends coach Mark Fabish said on the Penn Athletics’ website. “It’s a great group and we have a great amount of experience at the position. We’ve got some young guys who are excited to see what they can do.”