#5 Villanova Wildcats (2-1) vs. Penn Quakers (0-1)
When: Thursday, September 24, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Penn’s Previous Season Record: 2-8
Key Players for UPenn: #10 Alek Torgersen (6-3, 230) Jr., QB; #5 Justin Watson (6-3, 220) So., WR; #22 Tre Solomon (6-0, 200) So., RB; #34 Colton Moskal (6-0, 225) So., LB; #15 Ian Dobbins (5-11, 195) Sr., DB
Scouting Report: The Quakers will look to avenge the beat down they suffered against Lehigh as they go on the road against the Wildcats. Penn is a pass-first offense and will run it only to keep opposing defenses honest. The Quakers are young team with a few stars who could begin to shine in the next few weeks. The most notable of Penn’s offensive players is QB Alek Torgersen, a junior pocket passer who, torched the Lehigh defense for 336 yards passing and two touchdowns in the season opening loss. On top of that, he had an impressive 71.4% completion rate and only one interception. His longest pass of that day was a deep 74 yards, so expect the Quakers to come out slinging it early, often, and deep. Torgersen will look to improve on the promise he showed last year as a sophomore, where he threw for 2,689 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Torgersen also flashed high-level play when he set a Penn single game record for number of pass completions (40) against two opponents last year: Dartmouth and Princeton.
The receiving core for the Quakers seemed thin at first glance, especially with the departures of seniors Spencer Kulcsar and Conner Scott, the team’s top receivers last year. However, WR Justin Watson seems to be Torgersen’s go-to man this year. Watson’s sophomore season started with a bang against Lehigh, as he finished the day with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. This comes as no surprise; Watson showed flashes of talent last year when he set two Penn freshman receiving records: most catches (42) and most yards receiving (497). He still has yet to hit his ceiling, and the only direction he can go is up.
The running game for Penn, while not as potent, does have one notable player. RB Tre Solomon will continue to be the feature back for the Quakers after their week one loss. As a freshman, he played very well in his first four games (25 carries for 145 yards) before a knee injury took him out for the rest of the season. Against Lehigh, he gashed the defense for 90 yards on 11 carries. Keep an eye of him, because he will be more than good enough to keep the Villanova defense honest.
Defensively, the Quakers are not as impressive. They surrendered 245 yards rushing, 250 yards passing, and 42 points to Lehigh last week. It was an awful defensive effort. There were some Penn defensive players that stood out in this otherwise mediocre defensive unit: LB Colton Moskal and DB Ian Dobbins. Moskal did not play as a freshman last year, but he did have a solid effort against Lehigh, with 8 solo tackles and 11 total. Although he isn’t going to be a surefire success on the Penn defense, perhaps he will carry the momentum he gained in his performance against Lehigh. Dobbins will surely make an impact in the game, though. He had the second most interceptions of all players on the team last year, with two. He also finished last year with 27 total tackles and five passes defended. In the Lehigh game, he finished with just seven total tackles. Despite this otherwise vanilla effort by Dobbins, he might make a re-bound and be effective against the pass this week against ‘Nova. He is one of the more experienced players on this young team, and his veteran guile could come into play.
Outlook: Villanova has not lost to Penn since 1911 and I don’t see that trend ending this Thursday night. Villanova will be able to score at will against a weak Penn defense. I expect RBs Javon White and Gary Underwood to come in angry after their respective sub-par Delaware performances. They should easily be able to gash this defense. Penn will also serve as an easy first start for QB Zack Bednarczyk, who should have a solid day throwing the ball to top receiver WR Kevin Gulyas. With that being said, the worst that could happen is that this game becomes a shoot-out, as Alek Torgersen might be able to torch the Wildcats’ average pass defense. If the ‘Cats can shut down Justin Watson and Torgersen, then the game will be a cakewalk. I don’t expect that worst-case shootout, though. I do see Torgersen throwing two touchdowns, and then eventually succumbing as their offense will be unable to keep up with Villanova’s. This game should be an easy win.
Prediction: Villanova 35, Penn 14