By SCOTT CHIUSANO
After Yale handed head coach David Archer ’05 and the Red (1-1) their first loss last weekend, the squad was back at it in practice on Tuesday, preparing to host central New York rival Colgate (0-4) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The 38-23 loss to the Bulldogs was the first of Archer’s head coaching career, and came largely at the hands of Yale wide receiver Deon Randall, who scored four straight touchdowns to open the second half.
“Yale is a very good team. … They made plays when we didn’t,” said senior captain and defensive lineman Tre’ Minor.
“It’s just little small things that we’re going to work on and we’re going to get better at, and we’re going to try to improve it and put on a better show for the Big Red fans.”
According to Archer, Tuesday’s practice was an important one for the Red, as it allowed the squad to leave the disappointing loss to Yale behind. “Ultimately everyone’s been chomping at the bit to get out here and practice, because that’s your next opportunity to play and to get some of that ill feeling from Saturday out and to move on,” Archer said.
Going into the matchup with Colgate, Minor said the team is holding its head high. “We’ve still got the swagger because we still know what we can do and one loss is just one loss,” he said.
Though the Raiders are searching for their first win of the season, the reigning Patriot League champions will not go down easy this weekend. “They’re going to be really competitive, they’re going to play really hard,” Archer said. “They have a great option offense, they’re very athletic on defense and they love coming to Cornell to play. I expect to see a really good team.”
The Raiders also fell to Yale, 39-22, two weeks ago at home. They return 13 starters to a squad that was undefeated in Patriot League play last season. “Colgate’s a great team,” Minor said. “Like coach Archer’s been saying, every team is a copycat league — Patriot league, Ivy League. … So we’re probably going to see some bubble screens that we have some plays on.”
At the helm of Colgate’s offense is reigning Patriot League Player of the year and starting quarterback Gavin McCarney. A mobile quarterback, McCarney has totaled 266 yards on the ground with one touchdown so far this season. He has also thrown for 586 yards and three touchdowns, with only one interception.
“McCarney is a great player. He’s going to be able to run the ball, he’s going to be able to throw the ball,” Minor said. “We’re just trying to make sure we can contain him.”
The Raiders 0-4 record is also deceptive in that they have been pitted against some challenging opponents, including the Air Force Academy and the No. 18 ranked team in the FCS — New Hampshire. The Raiders have also had to battle through some injuries. McCarney was out for the 53-23 loss to New Hampshire, and with their starting linebacker sidelined, Colgate has turned to a sophomore in Demetrius Russell to lead the running game.
According to Minor, though, Colgate’s depth will make up for these injuries.
“They had their starting running back out and now they’re going to their second string running back, and I think he’s pretty good, I’ve watched a good bit of film on him as well,” Minor said. “So we’ll have to stop the run first and foremost, but that’s always the premise of the defense.”
Coming off a season where he broke the school record for yards of total offense, McCarney was named a preseason candidate on the Walter Payton Award Watch List for the FCS National Player of the Year. However, the Red has its own candidate for the same award to combat him, in senior quarterback Jeff Mathews.
Mathews only needs 342 more passing yards to overtake Brown’s James Perry as the Ivy League’s all-time leader in that category. He became Cornell’s all-time leader in touchdown passes last weekend after connecting with sophomore wide receiver Chris Lenz for a 22-yard pass that Lenz dove for and corralled in the end zone.
“I didn’t even know about it until after, but I was glad I could make a play for the team at that point,” Lenz said. “And I’m just happy for Jeff, it’s a big milestone for him and he’s worked hard and he’s earned it.”
After putting on an offensive show in homecoming two weeks ago against Bucknell, the Red hopes to fill the Crescent again this weekend and remain undefeated at home.
“It’s always great to play at Schoellkopf,” Archer said. “But really I don’t talk about anything but that next day, it’s something I’m really trying to harp on. The next play, the next day.”