What a difference a year makes.
A quick turn to page four of last year’s Cornell Daily Sun football pullout and you’ll see a story about a sophomore quarterback named Ricky Rahne. Glance over the paragraphs and a few words stick out at you.
One year later, you can’t get into a conversation about Cornell’s Ivy Championship hopes without mentioning the sophomore turned demi-god that led the Red last year to one of the greatest passing seasons in its history.
Rahne’s leadership, passing ability and level-headedness have vaulted the Red from Ivy obscurity to preseason co-favorites with Yale to win the league.
A year ago, GamePlan College Football’s 1999 annual preview picked Cornell to be dead last in the Ivies, “capable of only a couple of Ivy victories at best.”
The Sun’s own preview, which was slightly biased at best, picked the 1999 Red to finish fifth. Oh, if we had only known that the “potential” Rahne possessed was more than just empty promises.
A year later, Rahne holds enough passing records to already be a legend: most passes attempted (season), most passes completed (season), most yards passing (game, season), most yards passing by a sophomore (game, season), most touchdown passes (game, season) and most 200-yard passing games (season) to name a few.
The junior’s numbers from last year read like a fairy tale: 225-388, 2,762 yards, 25 TDs, 13 INTs. His quarterback rating of 132.35 was less than three points short of a Cornell record. When asked how he could follow-up last season, the junior was quick to reply.
“As a team we’d like to win an Ivy title. Stats honestly don’t mean that much to me.”
Despite all the numbers, Rahne could potentially be ready for an even better season than his sophomore campaign.
“Ricky’s an excellent player, and I think the biggest thing is that he knows how to use the offense as opposed to just having it memorized,” said head coach Pete Mangurian. “He knows he’s got tools, he knows how to use them, he knows when to use them.”
The quarterback himself sees plenty of room to improve his game as well. “Personally I’d like to get a better grasp on the offense,” he commented.
One advantage Rahne will have is that he will again be looking for most of the same guys he sought in passing situations last year. With the exception of Justin Bush ’00, the entire receiving corps will be back and hopefully healthy for the 2000 season. This means that once again the 14th best passing offense in Division I-AA of a year ago will be a force to be reckoned with.
“[Having everyone back] means a lot. We don’t have to work on as much over the summer and we can build off what we had last year,” Rahne said.
But Rahne’s ability to lead his team comes not just from great accuracy or throwing power, but rather the way he handles himself under pressure and his consistently making good throws.
“He makes good decisions with the football,” said Mangurian. “That’s not to say he doesn’t still need to continue to get better. When you get familiar [with an offense] you can get sloppy and not stay on top of it.”
One concern for the Red will be that its passing offense isn’t going to surprise anyone. While last year’s defenses were originally thinking this team would come in running, they certainly know better now. Rahne and his compatriots spent a good deal of the summer working on ways to combat different defensive packages.
“We know that teams are going to try to do different things to us this year. I think we’re prepared to deal with these situations now,” Rahne said.
And as for the pressure of being a preseason co-favorite to win the league, the quarterback has an answer for that too.
“I really don’t feel like there’s very much pressure. The line blocks, the receivers run there routes and I get the ball to them.”
Archived article by Charles Persons