September 19, 2003

Busch, Kuhn Give Depth Behind Center

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If there’s one thing that all successful teams have in common, it’s depth. For a team to have multiple skilled players at any given position is an advantage that cannot be overlooked, in that it gives the team more options, and it complicates the opponents’ strategy. Depth at the quarterback position is one of the Cornell football team’s biggest strengths.

Behind senior captain Mick Razzano, the Red boasts two talented backups who will provide a valuable insurance policy for the Red. Senior D.J. Busch enters his second season with the Red after transferring from Colorado State.

Busch did not see much action as Razzano’s primary backup last year, but completed two of eight passes for 38 yards in two games of action. Despite limited playing time, though, Busch spent last season growing into head coach Tim Pendergast’s system, and comes into this year much better prepared to contribute.

“I do not believe in a quarterback rotation system,” said Pendergast. “But would we feel comfortable with D.J. Busch in the game? Absolutely.”

At 6-4 and 221 pounds, Busch is a big, athletic player who is a skilled passer and fits well into Pendergast’s system.

“[The offense] gives the quarterback a lot of freedom,” Busch said. “We have the option to go up to the line and check out the play, and if we don’t like it for whatever reason, it’s good because we’re the ones who are out there playing. Sometimes, it’s easy for us to see some of those things that’ll work.”

Sophomore Ryan Kuhn’s first foray into college football proved to be a trial by fire last year, as he saw his first action in the season’s final game against Penn. With Busch unavailable and Razzano out with an injury, the then-freshman completed 5-of-12 for 31 yards.

“That was the best defense I’ve seen in the previous six years. To be a freshman and get thrown out into that situation is rough,” said quarterbacks coach Brandon Stott. “I think this year, he would handle it much better. He’s bigger and stronger and faster this year, his football intelligence has just grown tremendously.”

Kuhn greatly improved his game during spring ball and the fall training camp, and according to Pendergast, is much more prepared now than he ever has been before.

“He’s 100 percent better than he was as a freshman,” Pendergast said. “But he’s not quite ready to assume the role.”

With the additional year of experience, Busch and Kuhn provide the Red with more options should Razzano go down.

“This year, we’ve got three guys who can lead the team downfield and lead us to win games, so we feel pretty good about that,” Busch said.

“D.J. Busch and Ryan Kuhn are very good quarterbacks, and probably at other places would be the starter with no doubt,” Stott added. “Here, we’re blessed with having three really good ones.”

Junior Gabe Newell and freshman Chris Jensen round out the Red’s quarterback corps. Newell saw limited game action last season and tallied 32 yards on three completions.

“I’ve got five talented quarterbacks here,” said Stott. “Whether it’s this year or the next couple of years, they’re going to get to show it off to the fans here.”

Archived article by Owen Bochner