There will be changes for the University of Pennsylvania football team as Coach Al Bagnoli will retire at the end of the season, his 23rd at the school. Next season Defensive Coordinator Ray Priore will become the head football coach. In this final season at Penn Bagnoli is entering into something different, something that needs to be managed, but feels not much will change.
“It’s no different from what it has been.” Bagnoli said at Penn’s Media Day. “The only area that is different is on the recruiting side. When we sat down to divvy up responsibilities, anything that has to do with this season, practices, travel, depth charts, nothing has changed. Everything is going through me. When we talk about futuristic things, I’ll let Ray and the staff make that decision. He’s run everything through me which has been great. I want to give him a platform in recruiting and get him in front of the coaches so they can get an expectation of how a staff meeting is run under a different guy. It’s worked well.”
The time has come to turn the attention to the 2014 football season for the Red and Blue. The Quakers are picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League. To be successful much rests on the defense.
“They have a chance to be really good,” said Bagnoli. “We are the beneficiary of having some fifth year players back giving us some leadership. We have on all levels some experienced, seasoned guys. Our secondary will be the strength.”
The depth and experience is found with senior linemen Feerooz Yacoobi, Mike Schmall, and Jimmy Wagner. The linebacker position will feature Dan Davis who was named a third team preseason All-American by the Sports Network. Davis who was named one of the team captains. He led the team with a career-high 64 tackles last season. The backfield will feature seniors Dan Wilk and Evan Jackson. The defense is experienced, the offense is young.
“I think the pressure is always there,” said Davis. “We’re not concerned about what the offense is doing as long as we are playing our game.”
On the offensive side of the ball the Quakers do not have much experience especially on the offensive line and at the quarterback position. Where Penn has a leader is at wide receiver where Conner Scott can be a play maker. At quarterback Alex Torgerson appears to be the leading candidate. He played a snap at the position last season. Torgerson will need the running game to be the staple that it has been over the years. Senior Kyle Wilcox will be the lead runner.
“Our ability to run the football, to be somewhat balanced, to stay out of those predictable down and distances, will be invaluable.” said Bagnoli.
The kicking game will be headed by Connor Loftus who is closing in on the top five of most of Penn’s kicking records.
Penn will open the campaign at Jacksonville on September 20. Wilcox, who is from Tampa, is looking forward to playing in his home state.
“I was recruited by Jacksonville,” Wilcox said. “I know a few of the guys that went there. I know they are fast. It should be exciting.”
The 2014 season is ready to begin for Penn. Different, yes, as it is Bagnoli’s last season. But it is no different from other years.
“We are preparing for the season,” said Bagnoli. “It’s not my final season we are preparing for. It is the 2014 season. We will be gauged on the win-loss record, not about me. It has always been about Penn. That should stay the same.”
And for the players, the goal is always the same, the Ivy Crown.
“Winning the Ivy League championship is something we are striving for this year,” Davis said.
“The Ivy League title is what we play for,” said Wilcox.
Written By: Glenn Papazian