It definitely wasn’t the way to open the 130th season for the Cornell football team — five turnovers in the first half and heading into halftime down 27-0, ultimately dooming the team to a 41-14 thrashing by Delaware this past weekend.
But for a team that has high expectations for itself this season, the Red (0-1) is certainly not losing conviction in itself any time soon.
“There’s no bad blood, we’re not discouraged at all, we’re just working on cleaning up this week,” said junior running back Chris Walker. “It was boneheaded mistakes, now it’s just in the rearview mirror. It’s gone. It’s erased.”
There are a few reasons why the team has not lost any confidence in itself despite the unfavorable performance this past weekend. For one, the margin of victory for Delaware came entirely from Cornell turnovers.
“I call it the good, the bad, the ugly — enhance the good and keep doing it, correct the bad, and get the ugly out of our mindset [and] our DNA, and that means primarily the turnovers,” said head coach David Archer ’05. “Even the Delaware coach said, ‘man, that’s too bad, I wish you guys didn’t do that in the first half, this could’ve been a heck of a game,’ and he’s right.”
Second, the Delaware game was the first action the Red saw against a different team since a July scrimmage against Columbia fell through, something that Archer adamantly took responsibility for immediately following the game and again during practice.
And finally, and perhaps the most prominent reason, Delaware is not an Ivy League team. Beyond the fact that the loss from Delaware does not hurt the Red’s chances for an Ivy League title, Delaware is a scholarship school with more resources for its football team which has “bigger, stronger players,” said senior linebacker Daniel Crochet.
“Since we were able to hold our own physically, a lot of guys are optimistic,” said Crochet, who is coming off his first career interception. ”We have a lot of guys who played their first game this weekend, and they got their butterflies out of the way, and we’re excited, we feel good.”
But the so-called Ivy League preseason will be temporarily put on hold, as the team turns around to take on Yale (1-0) to open conference play, a team that is coming off a 56-28 rout over Lehigh, the defending Patriot League champion.
The Bulldogs came into the season with a question mark at the quarterback position, but seem to have found its answer after the first week performance. Sophomore Kurt Rawlings completed 77 percent of his passes, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns on his way to Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.
The running game did just as much damage for Yale, which totaled 258 yards while averaging 7.2 yards per rush, and tacked on four touchdowns.
“It looks like they’ve got their offense back on track, lot of weapons, so you really have to play your assignment and your area because [Yale] has a lot of different options on every play,” Archer said.
One of the bright spots for Cornell last week was its defensive line, and coupling that with a secondary that led the league in interceptions last year and is returning all of its starters, the defense is confident that it can take on the multifaceted Yale offense.
“It’s going to be a lot less physical, a lot more passing, a lot more methodical on their end,” Crochet said. “I’m confident that with our secondary and with our defense all together, we’ll be able to hold our own.”
However, while Yale’s victory was its largest margin of victory since 2014, the defense was a glaring issue for the Bulldogs. The team still gave up 28 points to the Mountain Hawks and allowed the team to go for 323 yards through the air. Nevertheless, Archer gave praise to the Bulldog defense.
“They did a great job of getting Lehigh into third and long, and Lehigh converted — Lehigh’s quarterback made some great plays on third down,” Archer said. “They try to confuse you on third down, they try to stop the run on first down, so it’s almost NFL-esque.”
When Cornell heads to the Yale, the team will be looking for its first consecutive Ivy League road wins since 2005, including last season’s 42-40 closing victory at Columbia, and its second straight league-opening victory, something the team has not done since 2008-09.
“It’s always tough to play at the Yale Bowl, no doubt, but I think we’re just looking at it as an opportunity,” Archer said.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Yale Bowl.