September 15, 2011

Mathews Heads Crop of Healthy Red Quarterbacks

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Most athletes and fans say that a player should not lose his job due to injury, but when the replacement goes on to start nine straight games and win Ivy League Rookie of the Year, does the rule still apply? It does not for the Cornell football team this season, as the Red prepares for the 2011 schedule with sophomore Jeff Mathews as its sure-fire starting quarterback. Mathews beat out senior Adam Currie — who played the first half of the 2010 opener before suffering a season-ending broken arm — and five other quarterbacks on the roster for the starting job, hoping to lead Cornell back to respectability following a 2-8 season. “Jeff is like a lot of developing QBs in that his strides are very dramatic,” Austin said of the signal caller, who completed 172-of-314 passes for 1,723 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions during his freshman year. “He has great knowledge of the game and is making great decisions. He has really flourished during camp.”But the team recognizes that depth at the position is vital, especially after last year’s scarcity of healthy quarterbacks.Currie has started only one game at Cornell besides last year’s contest against Wagner — the 2009 Homecoming game, when starter Ben Ganter ’10 was sidelined due to injury. Currie stepped in and completed 15-of-28 passes for 207 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions as the Red lost to Fordham, 39-27. Ganter reclaimed his job the following week. Despite his limited experience on the field, Currie has helped groom Mathews.“My relationship with Adam has been great,” Mathews said. “He’s been able to help me a lot because he has been in some games — being around four years is much different than being only [a sophomore]. He’s a player who really understands what’s going on.”Junior quarterback Chris Amrhein is also fully healthy after missing the entire 2010 season due to an ailing elbow, which was surgically repaired during the offseason. Amrhein’s only collegiate action thus far came in the Home­coming game against the Rams two seasons ago, when he threw four passes.“Chris has done an outstanding job as well during camp,” Austin said.The third Red QB coming off a season-ending injury is junior Josh Vick, who has never taken a snap at Cornell. Vick redshirted his freshman year at New Hampshire, played two games for the Wildcats the following season and transferred to Cornell in the winter of 2010 before needing knee surgery.Dynamic senior quarterback Beau Swee­ney joins the Red after serving as a backup at California for two seasons.“Beau is a player who we can use in all different packages,” Mathews said. “He is unique because he can throw and run well. He’s a very good athlete and he’ll be on the field all year.”Two other newcomers for Cornell at quarterback are freshmen Cole Parker and Sam Wood, from Valdosta, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla., respectively.Austin is enjoying the luxury of several healthy quarterbacks, which provides depth at the most important position in the game.“With Chris, Adam and Josh all coming off injuries, and with the addition of Beau, we have depth at quarterback that we didn’t have last year,” Austin said. “We now have healthy guys and we feel good about that position.”Perhaps most importantly, though, the starting position for the Red has improved, too.“I think Jeff has shown his development not only to us, but to his teammates,” Austin said. “He has dropped weight, is in much better shape and is much stronger. But it’s really in his understanding of the game, particularly defenses, where he’s grown the most.”

Original Author: Quintin Schwab