Keys to the Game: Yale-Penn

KEEP THE DEFENSE GUESSING

Penn runs a 3-4 defense, which will challenge the Yale offensive line with blitzing linebackers and multiple defensive looks. The Quakers have taken advantage of the pass rush generated by the 3-4 with nine sacks and seven picks so far this season.

Their defense is led by jack-of-all-trades linebacker Erik Rask, who is 10th in the Ivy League with 41 tackles and eighth with 2.5 sacks.

To keep the 3-4 off balance, the Bulldogs will need to mix up their offensive sets early in the game. According to head coach Tom Williams, Yale cannot stick with its two-back, two-receiver sets if it wants to reduce Penn’s blitzing tendencies and keep the offense rolling.

STAY BALANCED OFFENSIVELY

After falling behind early to Lafayette last week, the Bulldogs were forced to rely disproportionately on the pass. The Bulldogs passed 40 times with just 26 rushing plays. The imbalanced attack made Yale predictable offensively, leading to two interceptions and a 45 percent completion rate.

If the Bulldogs can establish the run early, the passing game should be able to take advantage with play-action calls in the second half, giving the Bulldogs an edge when the ball is in their hands.

CONTAIN BILLY RAGONE

The Penn offense is led by junior quarterback Billy Ragone, one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the Ivy League.

Ragone is as consistent a threat with his legs as he is with his left arm. A reigning All-Ivy first team selection, Ragone currently stands at fourth in the conference with 1,131 yards of total offense. This season he has averaged 179 yards through the air and 47 yards on the ground per game, guiding Penn to third in the conference in total offense.

To stop Ragone, Yale’s defensive line will need to apply pressure throughout the game so that he does not get comfortable in the pocket. Meanwhile, the Elis’ defensive backs will have to shut down the Penn receivers to limit Ragone’s options.

The Bulldogs have not fared well against Penn as of late, with 15 losses in their last 19 matchups with the Quakers, including a current three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs will have the chance to end that drought and add to their 44–33–1 series lead when the game kicks off this Saturday at noon in Philadelphia.

Comments