While the primary job of Cornell football’s quarterbacks is likely to be feeding senior running back Harold Coles, the Red’s inexperienced signal-callers will be in charge of taking the helm of head coach David Archer’s ’05 playbook.
Junior Richie Kenney and senior Mike Catanese will be the team’s quarterbacks in 2019, according to Archer. The two both saw playing time sprinkled in last season. However, after Archer said he planned to use all three quarterbacks and didn’t commit to a starter in the preseason, Dalton Banks ’19 quickly emerged as the Red’s QB1.
Kenney completed 14 of 29 passing attempts in limited action last season. Catanese, meanwhile, added a spark — mostly with his legs — as a run-first, change of pace quarterback. Catanese seemed to be developing as a key offensive weapon before suffering an injury and missing the final six games of the season.
Archer said Kenney and Catanese are his quarterbacks — they’re the two that have “played the best” — but isn’t sure if the two will work as a platoon or with one taking the bulk of the snaps.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be this guy for 60 percent, this guy for 40 percent or ‘hey, this guy’s a starter and he has a package,’” Archer said. With 10 [days] still to go [until the start of the season] I’m still kind of feeling that one out.”
In 2018, Catanese was sprinkled in for mostly run-first and Wildcat-style packages, at times igniting the offense with big gains on the ground. The then-junior had a 24-yard touchdown run against Yale in front of a Homecoming crowd, and his 32-yard score against Harvard proved key to the Red’s victory over the Crimson.
His injury midway through the season derailed an offense whose passing game already lagged behind its strong rushing attack. With Catanese out for the final six games, Cornell went 1-5 behind a passing game that was shut out twice and held to single digits once.
“[Catanese] is more of a good moxie gamer, can make a lot of throws can beat you with his legs,” Archer said. “Both [Kenney and Catanese] have good command of the offense, good command of the huddle. But Mike has that added element of just if it breaks down, man, he can create a big play with his feet and extend drives.”
Kenney, meanwhile, was a more traditional throw-first quarterback, but he didn’t see much meaningful playing time. As a sophomore in 2018, he saw action in five contests and attempted just 29 passes. Most of those came in garbage time of losses at Delaware, Colgate and Princeton.
Archer said Kenney looks like a “totally much improved player” heading into the season.
“Significant growth in terms of the throws he makes, command of the offense, comfortable in the pocket, command in the huddle, really good movement in the pocket,” Archer said of Kenney.
Whoever’s under center Sept. 21 at Marist — and as the intense stretch of Ivy League games starts soon thereafter — will have the keys to an offense that, like the rest of the team’s schemes, Archer said has a reinvented approach.
Kenney and Catanese — two inexperienced upperclassmen who have spent the better part of two and three seasons, respectively, waiting in the wings and watching Banks — will be the first to test out Archer’s new offensive schemes and “hybrid warfare approach.”