Penn Quakers

Penn football picked to finish 3rd in Ivy League as conference focuses on player safety

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Penn football picked to finish 3rd in Ivy League as conference focuses on player safety

Preseason college football practices opened across the country in recent weeks to increased safety due to the elimination of multiple practices with contact during a single day - the two-a-days.

Such mentality fell into line with some of the measures previously taken by the Ivy League.

With their league at the forefront of trying to reduce concussions and keep student-athletes healthy, Ivy coaches reflected on some of the changes Tuesday during a preseason conference call to preview their upcoming season.

Princeton and Harvard were installed as the preseason co-favorites in a close media vote over Penn. Harvard coach Tim Murphy said the Quakers were too low considering they're a two-time defending Ivy champion, sharing the 2015 title with his Crimson and last year's title with Princeton.

The tie atop the poll was the first since 2008 and the third all-time. Yale was picked fourth followed by Dartmouth, Brown (one first-place vote), Columbia and Cornell.

Coaches lauded the level of play in the league, especially veteran coaches such as Murphy, Brown's Phil Estes and Columbia's Al Bagnoli. The rise could be impacted by the emphasis on keeping players healthy.

"Most guys 25 years or older, they had never had that mind-set back when we played. You did what you were coached to do and you taught what you learned when you were a player. Nothing had changed for a long period of time," said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, acknowledged as the league's chief driving force for implementing safety measures. "Certainly with technology and some of the concerns with compression head injury, TBI (traumatic brain injury), growing awareness, we can do things in a different fashion. What I'm finding right now is there's a greater receptivity."

The Ivy League formally eliminated "live" to-the-ground tackling in practices during the regular season last year, continuing to address safety measures alongside the Xs and Os. In addition, league members moved kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to limit returns and the possibility of concussions from one of football's more dangerous plays. Two-a-days also had been scaled back in the preseason.

"I think that the rule changes that we made in the league have given us an opportunity to keep the players safe and also decrease the high collisions on special teams, especially on the kickoff game. It's really made the game better," Yale coach Tony Reno said.

Added Penn coach Ray Priore, "How you teach tackling has changed. We used to put the helmet on the ball to cause fumbles; now it's on the back hip in the rugby style. It's changed in that facet, how we as coaches have to re-look at the teaching of some of those mechanisms. I think some of the rules are spot-on with what we want to do without changing the integrity of the game."

The Ivy League has been reviewing concussions since 2010, moving from football to a number of other sports such as lacrosse, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and rugby.

Safety measures go beyond concussions as well. Cornell coach David Archer notes the risk of knee and leg injuries are down because players aren't being driven to the ground in practice.

Dartmouth has been especially active, developing a robotic tackling dummy, called the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), to simulate live tackling in an effective and realistic way. The product was unveiled in 2015, nearly five years after coach Teevens instituted a no-tackling policy in practice to keep more players healthy.

Said Priore: "You could see based on the lack of injuries that were reported at the end of the year that … being a successful football team is how healthy you can you stay. I think all these measures go into helping us stay healthy."

Key Ivy League games
Penn at Harvard (Nov. 11) - The last 10 Ivy League titles have included one or both of these powers. Expect the streak to continue in 2017.

Five More: Yale at Dartmouth (Oct. 7); Penn at Columbia (Oct. 14); Princeton at Harvard (Oct. 21); Princeton at Penn (Nov. 4); Harvard at Yale (Nov. 18).

Ivy League football preseason media poll
1. (tie) Princeton (6 first-place votes), 120 points

1. (tie) Harvard (5), 120

3. Penn (5), 110

4. Yale, 71

5. Dartmouth, 60

6. Brown (1), 57

7. Columbia, 38

8. Cornell, 36

Sam Jones' clutch 3s lead Penn to win over Dayton

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Sam Jones' clutch 3s lead Penn to win over Dayton

BOX SCORE 

DAYTON, Ohio — Sam Jones, who took all his shots from 3-point range, sank a pair of key 3s late in the game as Penn held off a surge by Dayton to defeat the Flyers 78-70 on Saturday.

Dayton had made a six-point push to draw within 62-61 on a John Crosby layup, prompting a Penn timeout with 4:30 remaining. After the huddle, Jones hit a clutch trey, and then another to make it 68-63. Penn made eight of 10 free throws down the stretch.

Jones scored a season-high 15 points, his first game in double figures this season, making 5 of 6 shots. Antonio Woods scored 17 to lead Penn (8-4), Ryan Betley added 14 and Darnell Foreman 12. The Quakers had 20 assists on 26 made baskets led by AJ Brodeur with seven.

Dayton (4-5) cut the gap to 74-68 on a Crosby 3-pointer with one minute left, but the Flyers missed four times from distance in the last 48 seconds. Josh Cunningham scored 21 points with eight rebounds, while Crosby added 15 points for Dayton.

Penn holds off Lafayette to continue solid stretch

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Penn holds off Lafayette to continue solid stretch

BOX SCORE

EASTON, Pa. -- Ryan Betley scored 16 points, A.J. Brodeur added 15 and Pennsylvania held off Lafayette 73-68 on Wednesday night.

Penn led 70-59 on a Caleb Wood layup with 2:55 to play but the Leopards charged back. Justin Jaworski started the charge with a 3-pointer and his layup with 22 seconds to go made it 70-68. The Quakers missed two shots, then had a turnover and missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Betley made two free throws to end the drought with 21.4 seconds remaining and from there the Leopards missed three straight 3-pointers.

Penn (7-4) led 33-24 at the half as Brodeur scored 10.

Matt Klinewski had 18 points for Lafayette (1-7) and Jaworski added 16.