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Rather than trying to fix all the things that were wrong with the Big Red all at once, Head Coach Kent Austin seized on his talented freshman QB Jeff Matthews last season and decided to focus on creating a solid passing offense.
Matthews is a sophomore now and is turning into one of the best passers in all of FCS football.
That's the biggest reason for Cornell's resurgence this season into at least a respectable team and hardly an easy "W" for anyone in this league.
The Big Red have 2,346 yards passing this season versus 627 yards rushing.
Get the picture?
Matthews is the offense and opposing teams know it.
Considering how often Matthews passes, (35 times per game), Cornell's 22 sacks allowed isn't such a bad stat. But clearly, it's not a bad idea to come after the Big Red QB.
Matthews has three receivers with at least 500 yards receiving. Tops among them is senior Shane Savage with 50 catches for 732 yards and six TD's. Junior Luke Tasker, (son of Buffalo Bills great Steve Tasker), is not to be ignored with a 16.6 yards-per-catch average and three touchdowns.
The running game is used sparingly. Lead rusher senior Ryan Houska gets about 10 carries a game and he's averaging a solid 4.4 yards per rush. Sophomore Grant Gellatly is the #2 guy with about seven carries per game. No Big Red rusher has had a run of more than 30 yards this season.
The Cornell defense is still having a terrible time containing the run, and it was torched by Dartmouth's runners all day last week in Hanover.
The Big Red allow 198 yards on the ground per game and a whopping 4.5 yards per rush. Opponents have averaged 44 rushing attempts per game against the Red as they tend to keep running at them until it stops working, and it rarely does.
By contrast, opposing teams pass the ball just 27 times per game for a 62%-38% run-to-pass ratio. But opponents still average just over 200 yards per game through the air against the Red.
PK Brad Greenway is having a fantastic season. He's missed just one of 12 FG attempts and is a perfect 4-4 from 40-49 yards out. He's a perfect 22-22 on PAT's.
Greenway is also the primary punter. He does that job solidly, but not at all as fantastically as he does the kicking.
Tasker and senior Rashad Campbell are both dangerous kick returners with KO return averages well over 25 yards per return. But Tasker has not been spectacular as a punt returner.