The Red looks to open its season with two straight wins.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

The Red looks to open its season with two straight wins.

September 23, 2016

Three Keys to a Cornell Football Homecoming Win Over Yale

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Coming off a hard-fought win last Saturday at Bucknell, the Red returns for a Homecoming showdown against Yale tomorrow at 3 p.m. A win over the Bulldogs would give Cornell its first 2-0 start since 2009.

Last season, the Red suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts, who threw for 371 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. Cornell led 26-7 at one point in the game, but the Bulldogs stormed back for 26 unanswered points to win 33-26 in front of nearly 15,000 fans.

Yale leads the all-time head-to-head series 47 to 30, but the Red can inch one game closer if it follows these three keys to victory.

Limit Penalties

Despite coming out on top last weekend, Cornell was penalized a whopping 11 times for 85 yards against Bucknell. The Red offense struggled to stay in rhythm at times, and the penalties certainly did not help.

Numerous flags for illegal formation and a couple of holding calls stalled drives that may have resulted in scores. Of course, some of these can be chalked up to early-season jitters, but 11 penalties in one game is never ideal.

Against an always formidable opponent like Yale, the Red will certainly need to stay disciplined, whether that means limiting penalties or protecting the football.

Don’t Be Fooled by a Low Score

Last week, FCS No. 23 Colgate trampled Yale on their own field. The Raiders put up 55 points — the most ever against Yale by any team — and limited the Bulldogs to just 13 points on 188 yards of offense.

Colgate is favored to win the Patriot League and is certainly a tough opponent for any offense, so expect the Yale offense to respond in a big way Saturday against Cornell.

Last season, Yale averaged nearly 400 yards per game, including 122 on the ground. In their matchup against the Red, they put up nearly 500 yards of total offense.

One major difference, though, is the absence of last year’s QB Morgan Roberts — a transfer from Clemson — who left Yale to pursue a career in the NFL. Roberts was not drafted, but he will certainly be missed.

Filling the void this year is junior Rafe Chapple, who started last week’s loss but was removed during the contest after throwing three interceptions. Yale head coach Tony Reno has chosen to start Chapple again this week and is confident that he can get the job done.

The Georgia native will certainly be looking to bounce back come Saturday, and Cornell should not underestimate this offense’s potential with Chapple under center. The Red’s stout defensive performance against Bucknell should be a good sign, however.

Keep Feeding Walker The Ball

Chris Walker kicked off his sophomore season in style last weekend, rushing for 141 yards on 17 carries. Seemingly every time sophomore quarterback Dalton Banks handed the ball off to Walker, he would rush for another 10 yards like it was nothing. Not only did this move the ball down the field, but it also helped to open up the Red’s passing game.

Walker shared time J.D. PicKell, Josh Sweet and Jack Gellatly, but was the most successful of the three. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Walker is quick enough to make defenders miss and can run through them when necessary. With his skillset, he is the Red’s best hope in the impossible task of replacing Luke Hagy, who graduated last year.

Yale allowed 243 rushing yards against Colgate, so the Bulldogs are clearly vulnerable in that end. Unless Cornell gets behind big early, Walker should get around 20 touches in this one for the Red to have its best chance of winning. This should also slow down an often potent Yale offense by keeping them off the field.

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