September 25, 2015

FOOTBALL | Cornell to Face Yale in Ivy Play Opener

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The results against Bucknell during Cornell’s season-opening loss was certainly not what the squad was hoping for going into the football team’s homecoming game. However, Cornell is better positioned to succeed against Yale this week. The Red will head to New Haven this weekend to face off against the Bulldogs as it looks for its first win of the season.

“I was very disappointed in the result, but watching the film, I saw a lot of great things, especially from our defense,” said Cornell head coach David Archer ’05. “We didn’t have to call a blitz very often. We were able to play a lot of base defense and stop them and stop a good club.”

The Bulldogs (1-0), who rallied from a two touchdown deficit in their season-opening win over Colgate, return star quarterback Morgan Roberts, who threw for 3230 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 66.8 percent of his passes in 2014. Despite the departures of wide receiver Deon Randall and running back Tyler Varga, who is playing in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, Roberts leads a potent Yale offense.

In their matchup in 2014, the Bulldogs ran all over the Red at Schoellkopf, dominating at 51-13. Roberts completed 26 of 30 passes for 312 yards while throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions. Minimizing the damage from Roberts will prove to be a key for the Red if it hopes to come out of New Haven victorious.

“You want to try to make [Roberts] make bad decisions, but he really doesn’t,” Archer said. “He’s a quarterback that works very well in rhythm. They run a hurry-up offense to get him in that rhythm. You really have to concentrate on disrupting his rhythm and disrupting the football.”

After looking at tape of the Red against Bucknell, Archer identified certain areas of the team’s play where there is room for improvement, including the squad’s ability to make the play and push the opposing offense off the field. Weaknesses like these proved to be key in the team’s loss against the Bison.

The Red will continue to feature senior running back Luke Hagy as the primary weapon out of the backfield. Hagy, who ran for 114 yards on 18 attempts for a touchdown, has been the tone setter for Cornell over the past two seasons and will prove to be critically important for any success the team puts together against Yale.

“I think it’s important in the post-Mathews era to really establish the balance and it was really about emphasizing the run game,” Archer said. “We want to be equal and a guy like Hagy can do some damage on the ground and he can do a lot of damage out of the backfield too. We have confidence in a lot of other playmakers in our offense and we have to make sure we’re making good decisions at the quarterback position to get the ball where it should go. If it dictates that we need to throw, that’s what we need to be able to do.”

Archer will look to junior Robert Somborn to continue to improve in the pocket. Somborn completed 9 of 18 passes, all the while throwing a touchdown and an interception, which was thrown into double-coverage with four minutes left against the Bison while the Red was down by a field goal.

“You saw [Somborn] miss some throws,” Archer said. “That was uncharacteristic that way. You saw him miss high or miss to the outside. I expect him to calm down, although Yale’s defense is very good and I expect to make the throws like he normally does.”

For Archer, there are no moral victories, regardless of how the team plays. He hopes to see the Red come out of the weekend with the team’s first victory of the season.

“I’m not in the moral victory business, but I’m in the business of building Cornell football and [the game against Bucknell] was a lot of moral victories,” Archer said. “We all want the W.”