September 13, 2007

Quick Secondary Feared by Ivy Foes

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If the saying “defense wins championships,” holds true, the Red should definitely be in contention for this year’s Ivy crown thanks to a stellar secondary.
With the return of four starters in the defensive backfield — including All-Ivy junior free safety Tim Bax — the back five of the team’s 4-2-5 defensive formation will be the backbone of this year’s squad.
The other starters include big-play defensive back and senior co-captain Colin Nash, senior whip safety Michael Boyd and junior strong safety Gus Krimm.
Especially with a return to a more blitzing style, the secondary will be left with a bigger responsibility.
“As long as we are in the right position, 95 percent of the time we are going to win the battle,” Boyd said.
“Last year we got away from blitzing, we are going to get back to it,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “We will let our corners and safeties be one-on-one.”
After being one of the top defensive teams during Knowles’s first two years as head coach, the Red slipped a bit last year. With the quality play of the secondary, though, Cornell can go back to its blitzing style.
“I like the challenge,” Nash said. “We think of making plays and not getting beat.”
Nash was last year’s winner of the Stone Travel “Big Play” team award. The Fairport, N.Y., native easily became one of the top cover corners in the Ancient Eight, totaling a team-best three interceptions and nine passes defended.
Bax paced the group last year, emerging as one of the better defenders in the Ancient Eight. Bax recorded 57 tackles — with a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss.
The Red’s other safety, Krimm, proved to be a strong player last year after seeing limited action in his freshman campaign. The hard-hitting junior from Columbus, Ohio, ranked fourth on the team last year with 58 tackles — 41 of which were solo. Boyd, a three-year starter, finished second last year on the squad with 62 tackles, six tackles for loss, and four pass breakups.
After spending last year on the field together, the talented group will have opposing coaches and quarterbacks constantly questioning their next play call.
“Last year was a transition year — we needed to gel,” Boyd said. “This year, everybody knows what we need to do.”
One chore the group has will be helping in the development of the other starting defensive back alongside Nash. With such accolades amongst the group of backs, the only wildcard seems to be the other cornerback position where sophomore Frank Morand and freshman Emani Fenton will be competing with each other for playing time.
“I try not to be too much of a coach to them … just a big brother type,” Nash said.
Last year, as a rookie, Morand totaled five tackles and a pass breakup in eight games. While Morand is penciled in as the current starter, there have also been rave reviews about the younger Fenton, despite his lack of experience.
“We think he’s going to be really good and turn out to be a big factor,” Knowles said.
“As far as I can tell, he still needs to mature,” Boyd said. “But I can tell he is going to be exceptional cover corner.”