High school all-star. Prototypical build. Big arm. Division I recruit. Game experience. It’s a package any college coach would love to have in his quarterback, and it”s exactly the package the Red”s senior starter DJ Busch brings to the team”s offense this year.
‘I told DJ, “The offense is yours, baby, run with it,”‘ said head coach Jim Knowles “87. ‘I don”t believe in a quarterback controversy. You gotta have a one who”s the man, until he”s not the man anymore. I think that”s helped him a lot.’
Knowles” and the team”s expectations run high for the fifth-year player, who has proven himself an effective leader and stellar quarterback.
In high school, the Santee, CA native started three seasons, captaining his team for two, and garnered nearly every award in the book: first-team Grossmont North Player of the year, conference player of the year, first-team all CIF, Breitbard Player of the Year, second-team all state. He holds a few records too, completing 62.3 percent of his passes for 6,832 yards and 67 touchdowns. Not bad.
Colorado State thought so, too, and recruited Busch, hoping to groom him into the program”s next big league QB. The stint didn”t last long. Though Busch started early in his sophomore season, completing 28 of 63 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns, he decided to leave the Rams after that year, hoping to play more at a different school.
Now he finds himself with all the playing time he can get, entering this season as the Red”s clear-cut field general.
‘I”ve been a starter before, early in my career, and I had a few chances last year. Now, I”m coming back for my fifth year, and its great be in that position again your last time out,’ he said.
Some of the starting experience — in addition to his time in Colorado — came last year, when Busch replaced quarterback Mick Razzano “04 after Razzano got injured midway through the season.
Busch finished the year with five starts under his belt, going 118-for-227 and amassing 1,320 yards while heaving seven touchdown passes.
Though, respectable, those numbers still could not propel Cornell past last place among Ivy teams in passing offense, and they neglect one crucial statistic: turnovers.
‘The trouble with our offense last year was that we would get sidetracked by little things. We turned the ball over too much, and we never got in any kind of good rhythm,’ Busch said.
‘This year, our big thing is don”t turn the ball over. We”ve worked really hard on making sure we do the things to keep the ball and not put our defense in a bad position. This year, we”re going to pride ourselves on ball security.’
Busch threw eight picks last season, eclipsing his touchdown number by one. To reduce that number and give Cornell a better shot offensively, Knowles has worked tirelessly with his quarterback.
‘The key to his success this year is to not force things, learn his read, make the completions,’ Knowles said. ‘I told him he doesn”t have to try to complete the long ball all the time. He”s got to play with confidence and be a leader.’
Quarterbacks coach Tim Rogers feels certain Busch will do both when game time rolls around.
‘I”ve worked a lot with him on improving his poise in the pocket,’ Rogers said. ‘He”s waited a long to play, and he”s prepared.’
Archived article by Everett Hullverson
Sun Assistant Sports Editor