In football, one play can mean the end of a season. Just as well, a strong depth chart can save one. Knee injuries, muscle pulls, and broken bones plague players as frequently as they get hit. Quarterbacks, in particular, stand a high chance of getting smashed to smithereens by blitzing linebackers and crashing defensive lineman. This year, starting QB DJ Busch will be the prime target of such attacks as long as he stays in the game, but, should he go out, the Red won’t have to worry much, because a talented corps of backups stands ready to take his place.
Busch, a fifth year senior transfer from Colorado State, has the physical and mental attributes which make him a coach”s dream.
‘He”s the prototypical drop-back passer,’ said quarterbacks coach Tim Rogers. ‘He”s big, he”s got a strong arm, and he makes good decisions.’
This year, Busch will work to improve his passing efficiency, building on his performance last season, when he filled in for injured starter Mick Razzano “04.
Taking the reigns should Busch go down is junior Ryan Kuhn. At 6-5, 227-pounds, Kuhn has a size advantage on Busch and a strong arm, as well. In his first two seasons, the New Fairfield, Conn., native saw only limited playing time, appearing sporadically last fall against Colgate, Columbia, and Penn. Though limited, Kuhn took advantage of his time, completing eight of 19 passes for 69 yards.
And, what he may lack in arm strength compared to Busch, Kuhn makes up for in mobility. The double threat gives him the ability to threaten defenses on the ground and in the air. ‘He runs better than DJ. He”s athletic,’ Knowles said. ‘He also manages the offense well. I”d have no problem playing with him at all. He”s as solid a backup as you can have.’ ‘He”d be a very good starter on most Ivy teams,’ Rogers pointed out. ‘He can tuck the ball and run, or pass.’
Senior Gabe Newell fills the third spot on the depth chart – a difficult position, considering he plays behind two quarterbacks who could start on most teams in the league. At Enterprise High School in Redding, Calif., Newell played two sports – football and basketball – and led his team to sectional championships in both. On East Hill, he has only seen the field once, as a sophomore, when he threw for 32 yards on three completions against Penn. Nonetheless, if needed, Cornell”s coaching staff has full confidence Newell can get the job done.
‘If we had to go with our third string quarterback, I wouldn”t panic,’ Knowles said. ‘He”s just a great team guy.’
Filling out the position roster is freshman Todd Lisowski. The 6-3, 185-pound Dover, OH, native captained his team to the state title game as a senior and earned first-team All-Ohio honors. Lisowski does not figure to play much this season simply because he has yet to learn the Red”s complex offense and get some game experience. Nonetheless, the coaching staff sees promise in him.
‘He”s not the same drop-back passer that DJ [Busch] is. He”ll run around a bit,’ Rogers said. ‘He just has a lot to learn, but he”s shown flashes of brilliance against Ithaca College and in scrimmages.’
While Cornell”s offensive line will do its best to keep Busch injury-free and leading the team as long as possible, no one doubts the ability of those behind him to enter a game without missing a beat.
‘We have a good situation,’ Knowles said. ‘We have two guys who are very competitive and one who really could play if called upon.’
Archived article by Everett Hullverson
Sun Assistant Sports Editor