Big Red Needs To Jump Out Early

By Dave Wohlhueter

Enough of this “falling behind early” business. The Big Red needs to jump out early on Saturday when it faces undefeated Harvard at 1 p.m. in Allston, MA. The two schools are the only unbeaten teams in the Ivy League.

In two of the three victories to open the season, Cornell trailed Bucknell 10-0 and Colgate 21-0, but had the desire to throw the deficit aside and go on to play the type of game that made it a winner.

Head Coach David Archer assessed the next opponent by saying, ““Colgate is a very good football team, but Harvard is awesome.”

Letting Harvard jump in front early could be disastrous because the No. 16-ranked Crimson is averaging 38.0 ppg. While scoring big time, Harvard ranks No. 1 in the Ivy League in scoring defense (20.0 ppg.). Cornell has recorded 30.0 ppg., and is averaging better than 300 passing and 100 rushing yards in both categories for the first time in school history.

Harvard and Cornell rank 1-2 in the Ancient Eight in scoring defense, total offense, passing offense, pass efficiency and interceptions.

This week, the Big Red is ranked nationally for the first time since September 2009. The gridders garnered 21 votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll, good for 40th among all Football Championship Subdivision schools.

After the win over Colgate, Associate Director of Athletics for Communications Jeremy Hartigan hit the lottery for garnering awards for Cornell athletes. Sophomore QB Dalton Banks, who leads the Ivies in passing (305.7 ypg.) and total offense (319.0 ypg.), became the Ancient Eight Offensive Player of the Week for the second time. Banks tied a school record with five touchdowns in last week’s victory.

Junior LB Kurt Frimel was Defensive Player of the Week via a career-high 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack of the Colgate QB in the end zone that produced two points for the Big Red that ended up in the game’s decision for the Red.

The third award given out by the Ivies went to senior punter Chris Fraser. A pro prospect, Fraser punted three times against the Raiders, and pinned the defending Patriot League champs inside their own 7 all three times. He made Colgate start offensive series at its own 2, 7 and 4.

The fourth award given out weekly is Rookie of the Week, and Hartigan had no candidates because no freshmen played vs. Colgate. Jeremy, you won your game too.

Sophomore place-kicker Zach Mays continues his consistency in booting kickoffs into the end zone. The Big Red and Southern Utah are the lone teams in the FCS to allow no kickoff returns this season. Mays earned Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week in the first two games.

In last week’s 31-17 win over Georgetown, Harvard played the starters only in the first period. Previously, it defeated Rhode Island, 51-21, and Brown, 32-22. Quarterback Joe Viviano has made good on 67 percent of his passes with six TDs and no interceptions in the first three outings. This will be a real test for a Cornell eleven that is playing its best defense in recent years. Crimson running back Semar Smith is averaging 89.3 yard per game with three scores.

Cornell’s running attack is certainly no slough, led by sophomore Chris Walker who is averaging 90.0 ypg. to lead a team that tallies 127.0 yards per contest. And when the ground game struggles, Banks has a bevy of receivers.

He completed passes to 12 different receivers vs. Yale, and then 10 receivers against Colgate. Senior WR Marshall Deutz has 10 catches for 99 yards, with junior WR James Hubbard grabbing nine aerials for 176 markers. Four players have over 100 receiving yards in three games.

The game could turn out to be another aerial show. Both teams’ quarterbacks have the ability to air it out. Defense will be the key.

Coach Archer said, “To beat Harvard we have to win the turnover battle…we can’t give the ball away like we did at Colgate. We need to play one play at a time.”

Another comeback is asking too much, so Big Red, get in front early for another encore of “Cornell Victorious”.