What a difference a week makes.
After last week, every Cornell football player was shaking his head wondering what happened. Now the team has the inside track to an Ivy League title.
The key to this turnaround was the play of junior quarterback Ricky Rahne.
Last week he went 28-of-64 for 319 yards. Despite the yards, Rahne would be the first to say his performance against Bucknell was far from sharp.
And while he was still not perfect against Yale, (the junior still threw two interceptions) his 17-for-30 for 212 yards and two touchdowns was a significant improvement from a week ago.
The bigger improvement may have been his clutch passing, especially during the final drive. Rahne went 2-4 on the Cornell possession, with one completion for a first down on fourth-and-six at the Yale 37 yard-line, and the other a 15-yard toss to senior co-captain Joe Splendorio which ended up being the game-winning touchdown. The drive recalled memories of the Rahne from the 1999 campaign.
“I felt a little bit more in rhythm. I felt like I was seeing things better,” Rahne said, comparing his performance against Yale to the loss to Bucknell.
“I hope that I would be better with the completion percentage this week, since last week was about 30-percent,” he added with a smile.
But Rahne was quick to point out his flaws.
“Those two picks, those are still bad plays. We can’t have four turnovers and expect to win every game.”
Rahne attributes this improvement to a good week of practice.
“I had a much better week of practice. If I have a good week of practice, I’m going to feel much more in rythem in the game. I don’t think I had a very good week of practice heading into the Bucknell game. I think the rythem was much more from going back to basics and concentrating on that during the week,” he said.
One of the major areas of improvement was Rahne’s ability to hit the outlet receiver in the backfield. This often let the Red pick up 5-10 yards which helped in the battle of field position and keeping drives alive.
But Rahne said that his perfromance improved just as the entire offense played better.
“As an offense we worked together a lot better. That means I took my right drop, linemen blocked the right guys, how they were supposed to, running backs picked up the blitz well, and receivers ran their routes at the right depths and made their cuts at the right time. That makes all the difference,” he said.
In addition to the offense being more in sync, Rahne had other advantages on the Yale defense. While Yale had Than Merrill and Todd Tomich, two first-team All-Ivy players from a year ago in the defensive backfield, Cornell had a height advantage. And on the last play of Cornell’s final drive Rahne was able to use this to perfection.
“Joe [Splendorio] is 6-5, 225-pounds, so that is a size advantage in the NFL. On that last play I threw it up a little bit because I know Joe can jump and I know he is big. So you are going to use that to your advantage,” Rahne said.
So even though it was not a perfect performance by the keystone of the offense, the Red can rest easier knowing that Rahne appears to be returning to his excellent form of a year ago.
“I definately threw the ball better than I did last week,” he said with a grin.
Archived article by J.V. Anderton