Yale Running Game vs. Cornell Run Defense:
Judging from last year’s game, Cornell might want to put 12 men in the box. The Bulldogs dominated the run-game, amassing an incredible 424 yards rushing including 237 by Rob Carr ’05 and 125 from Pat Bydume ’04, both of whom averaged more than a whopping 8 yards a run. That’s not even the bad news for the Big Red. Quarterback Alvin Cowan ’04 — a potent running threat — is back from an injury sustained early in that game, and David Knox ’06 has emerged as one of the best running backs in the Ivy League. Cornell hasn’t improved much from last season. Witness the fact that they handed out 100-plus yard games to two players last week in a narrow victory over Bucknell. Simply put, if the Elis don’t rush for 200 yards this game, it will be because Cornell forfeited.
Yale Passing Game vs. Cornell Pass Defense:
And here’s the really bad news for the Big Red — their pass defense isn’t much better. Returning only one starter from last year’s secondary, expect Yale to pick on an inexperienced backfield that will, assuming last year’s 424 yards given up on the ground has been emphasized at Ithaca practices, be prepared for the run. The Big Red does not bring a particularly strong pass rush, either. Cornell might bring enough people into the box to (partially) stop the run, but don’t expect Yale to ignore the pass if Cornell starts keeping all eight men of their 4-4 front in to protect against the run. In fact, this might be the second way Yale misses a 200 yard game on the ground — by passing for 300.
Cornell Running Game vs. Yale Run Defense
Cornell returns last year’s starting tailback Marcus Blanks, as well as quarterback Mick Razzano — a good athlete who likes to scramble. Blanks was honorable mention All-Ivy last year, but he’s not going to change the game. In fact, sophomore back Joshua Johnston got the slim majority of the team’s carries in the opener. He looks even better than Blanks, and appears more versatile as witness his 43 yards receiving in the first week in addition to 78 rushing. Yale’s run defense looked pretty good in their game against Towson, but not bullet-proof. Cornell also has a really big offensive line that could give a somewhat inexperienced Bulldog interior line trouble.
Cornell Passing Game vs. Yale Pass Defense
Though Razzano has a good arm and passed for over 200 yards without an interception in their first game, Cornell graduated their all-time leading receiver Keith Ferguson. Their primary offense is definitely the run, and that isn’t likely to change. While it might not be fair to draw any conclusions from last week’s blowout, the Bulldogs gave up 320 yards in the air, including two big plays of over 50 yards. On top of that defensive back Matt Handlon ’06, who was sixth on the team last week in tackles, is out with pneumonia.
It’s pretty hard not to pick Yale after they blocked a punt last week, but they did send two kickoffs out of bounds and have an extra point blocked. Field goal kicker John Troost ’05 holds the school record for consecutive extra points made (42), which was only broken by the block last week. With Andrew Sullivan ’05 taking over the kickoff duties, keeping the ball inbounds should no longer be a problem for the Bulldogs. Still, Cornell boasts last year’s second-team all-Ivy kicker Trevor MacMeekin, as well as dangerous return man John Kellner. It’s close, but unless Yale can come up with another blocked punt, this goes Cornell’s way.
Cornell’s offense is serviceable, their defense is not. Yale has way too much firepower and is just too fast to lose this game, especially to a sub-par defense. There is the possibility of looking pretty stupid when you pick a score this high, but nothing else seems realistic. There will be a lot of scoring — most of it will be Yale’s way.
Yale 52, Cornell 20