Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco speaks at a Press Conference before 2019's game with Penn

Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco speaks at a Press Conference on Monday, September 16, 2019

University of Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback going forward after last Saturday's 47-22 loss to No. 1 North Dakota State.

Smyrna's Nolan Henderson made his case for increased playing time when he completed 9-of-12 passes for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns in relief of starter Pat Kehoe, who was just 2-for-9 for 11 yards and an interception.

Rocco cited a regular Monday evening staff meeting where they begin to hone in their strategies for the next week's opponent, in this case Penn.

"If you're asking me if I've made a decision who will be our starting quarterback this week, I have not. But that is where our conversations will go tonight, and that's the position that, rightfully so, needs and wants an answer, but there are other positions we'll have those exact same conversations."

One of those other conversations will surely come at running back, where Henderson's high school teammate Will Knight rushed for 115 yards on 8 carries, including a game-high, 59-yard effort.

"In our core run game, it's second-nature to him. He's kind of born to do that. In some of the other things, the pass concepts, the protections, as you're building and building your menu, they hear that base zone run play a little less often, and now there's a lot more things on their plate. But he's exactly where he needs to be. I'm not trying to undermine that at all, he's exactly where he needs to be, and exactly where I want him to be. It's just about moving forward."

Rocco also praised the work of the front line of the Blue Hens defense, that did some nice things despite giving up 47 points.

"I really felt early on that our defense was physical and stout. We held up very well inside on the inside run, and forced them to run to the perimeter and that's where they got their yardage."

A major issue for Delaware was the fact that Kehoe [4] and Henderson [3] were sacked a combined 7 times.

"Offensively, we did not protect our quarterbacks very well, it forced us to throw under pressure and duress. With the decision to go with Nolan out there, Nolan was able to avoid the rush and extend the play, and make plays down the field."

Rocco was also asked about North Dakota State Head Coach Matt Entz's decision to go for a fake field goal with the Bison leading 40-22 with about 2 minutes to play in the game. 

"When you're in the position I was in, you have no control, you're at the mercy of. I didn't feel that that was the right call to make, faking it there, if you're going to go for it, go for it. But, at the end, he certainly didn't call a timeout and make us punt the ball our of our end zone, which he certainly could have done. Live and learn, it did give them a touchdown at the end, which did extend the lead, which was significant when things were all said and done."

Delaware will prepare for a Penn team that has yet to play a game this season. This will be the first meeting between the teams since 1983, when Delaware defeated Penn 40-7.

In 5 games the series has shown two distinct eras: Penn won 89-0 twice and 35-0 in three games from 1919-1921, while Delaware won 40-6 and 40-7 in the 1981 and 1983 encounters.

Kickoff at Delaware Stadium is set for 1 p.m.

HENS NOTES: The loss didn't hurt Delaware much in the national rankings, as they slid just 2 spots to No. 20, although conference-foe Villanova did jump them... Delaware's game at Pitt on September 28 will be played at 12:30 p.m., and will be available on the ACC Network's Regional Sports Networks, a list that should be available by mid-week. Previous RSN games have appeared on NBC Sports Washington, but not NBC Sports Philadelphia, although that could change with the Blue Hens involved.