By JOON LEE
The season certainly has not gone the way that head coach David Archer ’05 hoped going into the year, with the three games left in the season and the Cornell football team still winless. That journey for the team’s first victory of the season faces one of the team’s toughest challenges when the Red travel to Dartmouth to face the Green and star quarterback Dalyn Williams.
The Green (6-1, 3-1 Ivy League) boasts one of the most impressive offensive attacks in the Ivy League, averaging over 435 yards per game this season. Williams leads all Ivy League quarterbacks in touchdown passes with 14 scores and ranks second in the conference in completion percentage at 64.6 percent. If the Red (0-7, 0-4 Ivy League) wants to stand a chance in Hanover on Friday, the team will need to make a strong, concerted to minimize the havoc Williams creates on the field.
“You’ve got to make him confused because he’s a special talent and then over these last four years, he’s grown into the best offensive player in our league,” Archer said. “He has my vote and I haven’t even played him yet this year. Just by what he’s doing on tape, he’s the guy. You’ve got to try to get into his head and confuse him and if you can do that, and you saw Columbia, who has a pretty good defense this year, play really well against him. That’s the recipe.”
In the context of the rest of the conference, Cornell has the second least productive offensive unit. The Red has totaled 2,407 yards of total offense, ahead of only Columbia. The reason behind much of Cornell’s even offensive play starts at the quarterback position, with junior Robert Somborn, who has been complemented by sophomore Jake Jatis.
Among qualifying quarterbacks in the Ivy League, Somborn ranks last in completion percentage at 54.6 and has the third most interceptions in the conference.
“Robert and Jake would be the first to tell you that their play has been inconsistent,” Archer said. “It’s not what their expectations are, but we’re going to use both of them like we have all year and just coach them up and keep doing what they do well. We moved the football well at Princeton. We just didn’t score. We’ve got to make sure we put all of the pieces together.”
Somborn and Jatis prepare to face off against a strong Dartmouth defensive core on Friday. The Green ranks as the second-best unit in the Ivy League, allowing just 10 points per game this year, on top of 283.7 yards per game. The Green is also tied for first in interceptions and fumble recoveries in the conference. Archer said Dartmouth will bring an aggressive rush against the Red.
“The thing they do really well is destroy blocks, whether it’s their defensive line, their linebackers, their corners and safeties on the perimeter,” Archer said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep our hands inside and we’ve got to cut block and we’ve got to create as many double teams at the point of attack as we can and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The absence of anything in the win column, however, frustrates Archer. The program, in Archer’s eyes, is going to have to go through growing pains in order to get to a place where it can win year after year. During Tim Murphy’s first seven years at Harvard, now an annual powerhouse, the Crimson went 38-37. Building a foundation for a program that “has tradition, just not a winning tradition” as Archer stated will take time, something athletic director Andy Noel has not wavered on giving to the Cornell grad.
“Nobody is more frustrated that me, ranked behind me is the staff, ranked behind is the kids. There is a lot of people that care about Cornell football, none more so than the ones in Schoellkopf Hall,” Archer said. “We’re working not only for Friday, but for the last three games of the season, but like I’ve said all along, we’re looking to build a winning program.”
And as the team’s 0-7 record looks directly at the Red in the face, all Archer and company can do is ignore it and look towards the future of the program and continue to lay down the foundation of what they hope can be a winning program in the Ivy League.
“You just live in the moment of what you can do is practice, whatever you can control, and that literally takes care of itself because the feelings you have, the disappointment, the anger, you can make that go away with taking care of business this upcoming week,” Archer said. “That’s what you focus on.”