After last year’s 1-9 season and the graduation of a number of key players, Cornell (0-1) had the dubious honor of being selected to finish last in the Ivy League this year. Yale (1-0), on the other hand, tied the University of Pennsylvania for the most first-place votes.
But one week after the start of the season, the Elis have fans worried after a near-disaster at Dayton. And Cornell — well — I guess no flurry of optimism was given birth after a 15-9 loss to Bucknell … but they are not cellar-dwelling pushovers.
Yale should come out fired up after a sobering debut. I don’t think Cornell is the worst team in the league — but they’re far from the best.
Yale pass vs. Cornell
Ralph Plumb ’05 is second all-time in career receptions at Yale.
Chandler Henley ’06 caught seven passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns last weekend. There is no shortage of talent in the Bulldog receiving corps. And despite a below-average performance to open the season, it’s hard to be too worried about quarterback Alvin Cowan ’05 when he’s in the top four in school history in career passing yards, total offense and touchdown passes.
I am a little worried about the size of the Cornell secondary. The 6-foot-4 Plumb and 6-foot-1 Henley will have to use their speed — not size — to get free from a defensive backfield with three players six feet or more and both corners a very respectable 5 feet 9. But I’m not that worried.
Yale run vs. Cornell
It’s unfortunate that tailback David Knox ’06 hasn’t been able to suit up for the Elis. He is more than a backup to Rob Carr ’05; he’s a lightning-fast defensive nightmare.
But it’s hard to complain when Carr shoulders 37 carries and still churns out 172 yards. 37 is a lot, though. Backup Jordan Spence ’07 produced when called upon and should be good at keeping Carr fresh.
Bucknell ran up 292 yards rushing against the Big Red. That’s a lot of yards on the ground — and a poor defense to allow it.
Cornell pass vs. Yale
Cornell passes a lot. Senior quarterback D.J. Busch may (or may not) be good enough to justify it. Busch transferred from Colorado State, where he was briefly the starting signal-caller. He completed exactly 50 percent of his 38 passes for 193 yards last Saturday. But he avoided throwing any interceptions.
Yale didn’t seem anywhere near as weak against the pass as they were last season.
Cornell run vs. Yale
The Big Red is another runningback-by-committee team. All that means is that no one is good enough to justify letting him do it alone. Case in point: the team’s top two rushers from last week both averaged less than three yards a carry. The whole team didn’t even manage triple digits on the ground.
Yale’s defense was pretty stingy against Dayton’s run. The Flyers managed only 3.3 yards per try and 134 total. All-Ivy candidates Ben Breunig ’05 and Kenny Estrera ’05 aren’t going to let a weak attack like Cornell’s go over 125 on the ground.
Andrew Sullivan ’05 looks more than capable of picking up where last season’s record-breaking placekicker John Troost ’05 left off. And after Tyson Crawford ’05 averaged 37 yards a punt and plopped two inside the 20, it makes me wonder: why didn’t we use him last year?
Cornell’s kicking game isn’t too shabby, either. Also, beware of kick-return man Joshua Johnston and punt-returner Brian Romney.