- Force Penn’s offense to try to convert on 3rd and 4th downs
Penn has struggled to convert on 3rd and 4th downs this season. This makes scoring on long sustained drives difficult for them. We will need to shutdown Karekin Brooks on first and second downs forcing Penn into these uncomfortable situations. If we can dial up some heat on Glover on third downs, we will give our secondary a better chance of batting down balls or intercepting passes. Penn doesn’t have a receiving threat as dangerous as Marquise Irvin from Mercer which bodes well for our young secondary.
- Give Rawlings time to throw the ball
Penn has a very strong pass rush as defenders have racked up 23 sacks over the first five contests. While we’d love to run the ball down their throats with Lamar/Alston and keep their offense off of the field, the Penn defense has been very stingy against the run. Dartmouth’s top rusher had 39 yards, while Columbia’s top rusher had 35 yards. Shohfi, Klubnik, Howland, Roman etc. are dangerous receivers in the passing game, but Rawlings is going to need time to deliver the ball. The offensive line has to communicate, pick up blitzes, and set up quickly in pass protection to keep Rawlings upright. The big hits on Rawlings are starting to add up and we need him healthy to survive not only this contest, but also the Ivy stretch ahead.
- Limit the big plays on defense
With the lackluster pass defense we’ve shown on film, every opponent from here on out will be looking to throw the deep ball. Big plays against our defense have plagued us since the Holy Cross game and we need to find a way to slow down opposing offenses, especially in the second half. There’s no secret formula for success as it boils down to form tackling, having a safety over the top on deep passes, staying true to coverage assignments, and playing the ball when it’s in the air. On paper, this appears to be a very even match-up. One play or one turnover could be the difference in this game as it was in the Penn-Columbia game last week.