September 23, 2010

Frosh Quarterback is Red’s September Call-Up

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With the injury bug that is circling the football team, the coaching staff has been thrown a few wacky passes as it prepares for Ivy League play tomorrow. Starting in last weekend’s match against Wagner, junior quarterback Adam Currie broke the radius in his right arm, thereby forcing him out of the starting position for the remainder of the season. Cornell football has regrouped and put all of its focus on freshman Jeff Mathews. The ball is in Mathews’ hands, figuratively and literally, to turn the Red into a winning team.

“Considering he’s the third one, we are real thin. You’ve got to have depth in that position because if you don’t and you’re down to a guy who has never played the position, I don’t know how you play the season. It looks like that is where we are headed with all these injuries,” said head coach Kent Austin.

Mathews, 6-4, 216 pounds, saw his first college action last weekend against Wagner, throwing for 97 yards and an interception and running for 10 yards on four carries. Now with his starting jitters behind him, teammates are looking for great success.

“I really enjoy the position as far as being able to lead the team and build on that success and help produce wins,” Mathews said. “You just prepare yourself to play. When the opportunity comes, you just have to take advantage of it.”

Now that he has finally been tapped as the Red’s signal caller, he is not going to let nerves get in the way. Mathews is physically and mentally prepared to lead the troops into Ivy League play.

“Being a freshman, I need to keep my composure and regardless of what’s happened in the past, you’ve got to be able to move on to the next play,” Mathews said.

The biggest difference from high school to college football has been the intensity of practice for Mathews. The quarterback notes the increase in repetitions has steadily prepared him for game time. Mathews has spent much of his time with his receivers on the practice field and in the film room.

“We have confidence in Jeff and just [want to] get him developed,” Austin said.  He showed us the ability to be more mature than we thought in a game situation and handle the game. He made plays and he is only going to get better, we just have to bring up the curve. We just have to get him mature enough, psychologically and emotionally … but he’s got the physical tools, so that we can have a chance.”

The Camarillo, Calif., native has been described as a good decision maker and a strong-armed pocket passer. His ability to throw long will establish a more vertical passing game helping to keep the opposing defenses off guard. The strength of his arm will prove quite beneficial for the colder games in the fall when the ball tends to sink in the frigid temperatures.  Naturally, as a Californian, the ice-cold temperatures in November will pose different problems such as gripping the football, but Mathews is ready and eager to face all the challenges along the way.

“Jeff has come a long way. Last year, the coaches were talking about [him] very highly,” said junior receiver Shane Savage. He’s from California, and California has a lot of great quarterback prospects, so we are really lucky to have him. He looked great in the Wagner game, very calm and poised. … I think he is going to have a great season as a freshman and a great career at Cornell.”

Excited for his debut as the new starting QB, Mathews and the entire team fervently hope for fans to pack the stands and cheer aggressively.

“There’s a lot of intensity this week in practice,” he said. “It’s an Ivy League game, it’s Homecoming, and it’s a very good game for us to make a statement.” Mathews said.

Original Author: Jill Mendelsohn