Penn football is still searching for its first Ivy League win of the season and trying to figure out an answer at quarterback.
Coming off a 23-14 loss to Columbia, the Quakers (2-3, 0-2) will visit Yale (2-3, 1-1) at noon Saturday in New Haven.
Although Yale carries a two-game losing streak into Saturday, the Bulldogs are the defending Ivy League co-champions with Dartmouth and have defeated the Quakers in their last three matchups.
Penn’s offensive woes have been an issue all season, and the weakness in the passing game was exposed on Saturday against the Lions. Senior quarterback John Quinnelly completed 6-of-25 passes for 83 yards, his worst completion rate (24%) of the season.
“Our inability to throw the ball through the air was evident,” Penn coach Ray Priore said.
Prior to the Columbia game, sophomores Hugh Brady and Maurcus McDaniel had also taken a few snaps at quarterback, seeing action against Dartmouth and Lehigh, respectively. Priore platooned Quinnelly and McDaniel against Columbia, but McDaniel did not attempt a pass and instead facilitated the run game.
“Rotating the quarterbacks didn’t have any bad effect on our time. It was a way to keep the ball moving, and get our team some new energy and some new motivation,” said McDaniel, who is listed as a defensive back on the roster. “We’ve just got to be able to execute, and move the ball the way we want to. Our strength was in the running game. I add a whole lot to that option.”
McDaniel rushed for 34 yards and scored his first collegiate touchdown.
“[McDaniel] was a high school gun-running quarterback, so we knew he had that skill set,” Priore said. “We’ve been toying with it for the last couple weeks. [Against Lehigh] we deployed it, and we were very successful in running the football. It gives you an added dimension.”
Saturday will also be a matchup of two of the top three overall defenses in the Ivy League. Penn is No. 1, averaging 148.2 yards allowed per game with Yale third at 181.6.
“We have to take a self-assessment of where we are in the program — what we need to do, and how do we move the pieces so that we can move forward and we can get better in that position,” Priore said.