August 31, 2010

Quarterback Battle Narrowed Down To Two

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With its record a clean slate and a brand new season around the corner, the football team heads back to Schoellkopf with preparations to prove itself and rebuild its reputation. Despite being picked to finish last in the Ivy League football poll, the Red is under new leadership with head coach Kent Austin taking the reins hoping to restructure the team.“We have really improved in all three areas of the game since spring. It is tough on the guys to learn a whole new system, new terminology and a different way of approaching the game while getting used to new coaching styles to each position. But I think the guys have done a great job adapting and really being diligent in their preparation and running what we expect from them,” Austin said. With new systems in place, the main question on everyone’s mind is who will be the starting quarterback for the 2010 season –– a question that will probably remain unanswered until Cornell runs out on the field for its first game. What is known for sure is that the role will most likely be filled by one (or both) of two promising players: junior Adam Currie and freshman Jeff Mathews. “Right now it is still open, but Adam Currie and Jeff Mathews have separated themselves physically … just able to do more things physically with the ball, interact more, complete more passes. It is more than just physical execution; I think the No. 1 thing of a quarterback is a great decision maker, so we are tracking that as well,” Austin said. Currie made his Cornell debut last year against Fordham, completing 15-of-28 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. Currently, Currie is the main contender due to his size and familiarity with the Red. Currie is looking forward to the start of the competitive season, when the Red’s knowledge and preparedness will be tested during its first game on Sept. 17.  “I think we are overall really happy getting ready for the start of the season,” Currie said. “We have been working really hard and things are going pretty well. We are just trying to go out there and compete and do the best we can to improve everyday.”Also on the radar in terms of quarterback potential is Mathews. Though his lack of collegiate experience is a drawback, Matthews is a particularly promising candidate. He was named team and league MVP his senior year of high school, during which he passed for 3,3134 yards and 37 touchdowns, with just eight interceptions. While these two players stand out as strong contenders, Coach Austin is using practice time to its full potential, examining players’ strengths and weaknesses while running various plays. “We are rotating reps right now. Over the last few practices, we have focused more on giving a few guys a little more reps than the others. Over the next couple of weeks, that will really be the case because we can only get two guys ready, three at the most. We will be going through one more scrimmage before making that determination,” Austin said. Another possibility is for Cornell to utilize a two-quarterback system, in which both players would rotate as a starter.  This formation could have both positive and negative results – either mystifying one’s opponent or breaking down the Red’s own unity. Decisive to the lineup as a whole, the quarterback will determine much of the team’s success during crucial moments of play. Getting these players well acquainted with the Red’s playbook will further improve the team’s offensive tactics.  “We are trying to teach them how to finish better, how to practice with a greater level of intensity and effort, while at the same time being smart…just trying to increase how quickly they are recognizing what they need to and executing their assignments properly, so they can play the game faster,” Austin said.

Original Author: Jill Mendelsohn