Take a team that has the second best pass offense in the league, the most productive passer in the league, the most productive tight end in Division I football and a good to great supporting cast to boot, and you have what the Cornell pass defense will be up against this Saturday against Dartmouth.
The Green (3-4, 2-2 Ivy) has become an offensive juggernaut within the Ivies — a conference that has become known for its impressive offensive numbers recently.
With two receivers among the top five in receptions per game and third and sixth in receiving yards per game — juniors Casey Cramer and Jay Barnard — and quarterback Brian Mann, who is second in D I-AA in completions per game, the Green has been racking up over 429 yards per game; 290 of those yards have come through the air.
“They have four really talented players, skilled players, to leave out their offensive line. They have a fifth year senior quarterback Brian Mann, who has an extra year of maturity… He’s very talented. Casey Cramer, their tight end is phenomenal,” said Cornell head coach Tim Pendergast.
The two other players Pendergast means are Barnard and running back Mike Giles, who will keep the Cornell defense guessing. Cramer is currently sixth in the nation among tight ends in receptions. Giles is third on the list of rushers in the Ivy League. Mann himself is not afraid to run the ball as he averages 43 ground yards per game.
“They have four very talented players, and I think that that aspect obviously will make you think, or make you lose sleep at night when they have players like that,” he continued.
The Dartmouth aerial attack will provide a formidable challenge to a Cornell secondary which has allowed a 65 percent completion rate and 223.4 yard per game against opponents. However the Red d-backs have been improving over the last few weeks, allowing a mere seven points to the potent Brown offense and 10 points through three quarters against Princeton. They will be tested once again when the Green comes to town.
“Our defense has a great opportunity because from what I’ve seen, our defense over the last few weeks is steadily getting better,” said Pendergast.
Cornell will once again be missing one of its starters due to injury on Saturday. Senior cornerback Vinny Bates broke his rib two weeks ago and will not play this weekend. Pendergast expects him back before season’s end.
In his place will be sophomore David Blanks, twin brother of tailback Marcus Blanks. Blanks guarded Princeton receiver Blair Morrison last weekend and garnered compliments from teammates and his coach.
“Whenever you lose a starter, it hurts,” Pendergast said, adding, “I was real proud of David Blanks last week. I thought he stepped in and did a very good job.”
Sophomore Kyle Thomas, who has started every game at cornerback, also praised Blanks’ efforts.
“Right now I think we’re pretty strong back there, we’re very deep, we have several seniors in the secondary even as backups,” he said. “It’s too bad that Vincent Bates broke his ribs — he’ll be back, but David did a good job stepping in last week, I’m sure he will again this week.”
Blanks will start along with Thomas and senior safety Jamie Moriarty. Seniors Jordan Hase and Roscoe Newsom along with junior Neil Morrissey and sophomore Deron Smith may all contribute as Dartmouth’s strength is it’s lethal passing game. Thomas has faith that the trend of improvement will continue into Saturday’s game.
“Guys are just taking pride and executing the details of their assignments. We’re focusing on that right now. Everyone’s just doing their job and working together,” Thomas ended.
Archived article by Amanda Angel