Ragone, Penn looking for consistency

"I am expecting big things from myself," says Penn's senior quarterback Billy Ragone.
"I am expecting big things from myself," says Penn's senior quarterback Billy Ragone. (      ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 29, 2012

The 2011 season for Penn quarterback Billy Ragone and the one his team had were pretty much the same: a series of highs and lows that eventually evened out.

Penn entered last season as the two-time defending Ivy League champion but finished at 5-5 overall and tied for second in the league with a 4-3 mark.

So the goal for Ragone and his teammates as they attempt to regain the title from defending champion Harvard is more consistency.

"Billy was kind of a microcosm of our team. When we were good, we were really good," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said during Monday's media day as the Quakers prepare for their Sept. 15 opener at Lafayette. "When we were bad, we were pretty bad."

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ragone completed 151 of 265 passes for 1,860 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. He rushed for 424 yards and seven touchdowns.

In 2010, when Ragone was named first-team all-Ivy, he rushed for 548 yards and seven touchdowns and passed for 834 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions.

Ragone said he will benefit greatly from starting 18 games over the last two years.

"Every year I am getting a bit more experience, more comfortable with the offensive playbook," Ragone said. "It's been a great experience for me to grow each year, and I am expecting big things from myself, and we're expecting big things as a group."

Penn was picked to finish second to Harvard in a preseason poll that included two media members who cover each team and one national media representative.

Ragone is listed as a senior, but he has two years of eligibility remaining. During his first year in 2009, he suffered a season-ending broken collarbone after only two games and earned a redshirt season. At this point, Ragone won't say for sure if he will play next year.

"That is to be determined, but I think so," Ragone said. "I think I will be back next year, but this is the year I am concentrating on, and this is the group I came in with at Penn, and we are expecting an Ivy League championship."

Ragone's backup from a year ago, Ryan Becker, has been lost for the season with a knee injury he suffered while working out in his native Florida.

Becker, a transfer from Florida State, where he spent the 2009 season, completed 20 of 37 passes for 187 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions last season for Penn.

That moves senior Andrew Holland into the backup role.

"[Holland] throws the ball better than any of the quarterbacks," Bagnoli said. "It gives us a real throwing threat. So if we really want to open it up, we can turn into Cornell."

Last season, Cornell led the Ivy League with an average of 341.5 passing yards per game.

Don't look for Air Penn to develop, because Ragone is such a threat on the ground, plus the Quakers have three running backs - Jeff Jack, Brandon Colavita and Lyle Marsh - who have all rushed for at least 690 career yards. Injuries limited Marshall to just six games over the last two years.

"Billy puts pressure on the defense with his legs, and it really brings another aspect to our offense," said Colavita, a Washington Township graduate who rushed for 665 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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