With the emergence of freshman Nathan Ford last Saturday against Yale, the Cornell football team now has a dilemma at the quarterback position. Senior starter Ryan Kuhn had a huge afternoon in the season opener against Bucknell, but threw three first half interceptions last weekend against Yale – prompting Ford’s entrance late in the third quarter. In his first collegiate experience, the freshman displayed poise in the pocket, throwing for 112 yards on 10-of-17 passing, in just over one quarter of play.
Ford has impressed the coaching staff throughout training camp and according to head coach Jim Knowles ’87, would have found his way onto the field regardless of Kuhn’s performance.
“We recognized early [in the year] that Nathan Ford was a real talent. – So, in our minds, no matter how Ryan played, we were going to think of ways to get Nathan work because we thought he was that good, we thought he was ready. In the Bucknell game, the way it played out and running the ball, it never happened – the opportunity never presented itself. Another touchdown against Bucknell and Ford would have been in there. We would have started to get him ready, but we were running the ball efficiently with Ryan. [Against] Yale, the opportunity did present itself because Ryan was ineffective throwing the ball.”
Kuhn left the game after 9-of-23 passing for 90 yards, and most importantly, with only three points on the scoreboard. After Ford entered, the Red marched down the field for a pair of touchdowns, as the freshman was impressive in his debut.
“We had never seen Ryan throw the ball within this new offense,” Knowles said. “He didn’t have to do it against Bucknell. He wasn’t having a great day, we put Ford in, and I think everybody saw that Nathan Ford is a heck of a player.”
After the game on Saturday, Knowles made it clear that he planned to use a combination of the two quarterbacks for the remainder of the season. However, as of now there will be no change at the starting position, with Kuhn getting the nod Saturday against Colgate.
“It’s tough, because I never wanted to be a rotating quarterback guy,” Knowles said. “Ryan’s a senior and we have a lot of confidence in him. We want to give him a chance to have his team and his year.”
Although Kuhn does remain the starter, Knowles said that Ford should expect to play early on in Saturday’s game, regardless of the score.
“We’ve got to see how Nathan Ford handles things when the score is tied, when it’s close – not when it’s 30-3 and go out there and just sling the ball around,” Knowles said. “It’s a totally different scenario for Nathan Ford to come in on the third or fourth series and run the offense. But, that’s what’s going to happen this week. This is a game for us to see Nathan Ford in a situation where it is a competitive ballgame.”
However, Knowles said that putting Ford in the game in a crucial situation had nothing to do with preparing him to assume the starter’s role next season.
“I mean that makes sense but no. I just want to beat Colgate,” Knowles said. “I think that Nathan Ford brings us some things that can help us beat Colgate. What happens in the future is unknown – we are all kind of looking at that and saying ‘wow this could be’ – but, we need to do anything we can to get the seniors out of here as winners. I think Nathan Ford can help win some ball games, I do. I wouldn’t play him if I didn’t think he could help us right now. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to be able to see what he did on Saturday and that he’s something special.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Assistant Sports Editor