After coming off its first win against Colgate two weeks ago, the Red nearly secured a second win over Brown had it not been for a last-minute touchdown, giving the Bears a 49-45 victory. While not the outcome they wanted, the football team and coaching staff gained plenty of new information in the loss, testing new offensive personnel while still proving that defense has the potential to make big plays when needed.
Now facing the Princeton Tigers, Head Coach David Archer ’05 and company will look to use their newfound knowledge to overcome the only remaining undefeated team in the Ivy League.
In its loss to Brown, the Red gave four quarterbacks major playing time. Fifth-year Richie Kenney, senior Ben Mays, sophomore Luke Duby and freshman Jameson Wang were each given at least five passing attempts in the close contest. However, Wang emerged as one of the most intriguing quarterback candidates.
After finishing the Colgate matchup with two touchdowns and 84 yards rushing, Wang again became the Red’s leading scorer this past weekend, putting up three total touchdowns while also leading the team in both rushing and passing yards. The freshman quarterback has become one of the offense’s most efficient weapons, and it will be interesting to see how Archer uses his talents against the Tigers who are allowing the fewest yards-per-game of any conference team.
Wang is not the only freshman to make an impact on the offense, as the coaching staff included first-year running back Eddy Tillman into the ground attack this weekend. Tillman was the only running back to score a touchdown in the contest, though he wasn’t expecting to see extended playing time so quickly in his collegiate career.
“When I first came and saw the running back room, there were a lot of seniors. So I’m like, OK, just learn from the guys’,” Tillman explained. “It was awesome to learn from them. I was hoping to get some plays out, but I wasn’t really expecting it.”
After weeks of inconsistent offensive play, recent games have tested younger players more frequently to see what they can bring to the team and for the future.
The defense, meanwhile, put up its fourth straight contest with multiple takeaways. Against Brown, the Red recorded three interceptions as well as a fumble recovery. The pass-rush was also solid, sacking the shifty quarterback Elijah Perry twice. However, the unit also allowed seven touchdowns on 13 drives and nearly 600 yards of Brown offense.
While the results may be inconsistent, the Red has hope that the defense can step up as they did in the beginning of the year to overcome a strong, but not flawless, Princeton offense.
In their latest game against Harvard, Tigers’ quarterback Cole Smith had a particularly bad showing, completing only 50 percent of his passes while throwing for no touchdowns and four interceptions. Had it not been for a controversial call in fifth overtime, the Tigers would have likely lost the game due to poor quarterback play as the result of a Princeton offensive line, which has allowed the most sacks of any team in the Ivy League. Archer said he hopes to use this poor line play to his advantage on Friday.
“We’ll probably mix it up,” Archer said. “We’ll show coverage or simulated pressure. We’ll play different coverages behind it, man and zone, and so we’re trying to be more of our attacking multiple style.”
The pieces are all in place for Cornell to garner its second win of the season, but the Red still needs to capitalize on all opportunities to do so. If the new players can make a larger impact on offense and the defense can continue to make big plays without giving up points, the latter half of the season looks promising for the team.
Cornell will try to seal its first conference win of the season at 7 p.m. on Friday when it hosts Princeton at Schoellkopf Field.