Bucknell is now 4-0 after ending last season with a strong finish (including a victory at Dartmouth) to place second in the Patriot League. On their home field, on Parent’s Weekend, for a game that they likely had circled on the calendar all offseason(due to last year’s Cornell Homecoming Win), we played the Bison to a one score game into the fourth quarter.
Our Offense controlled the clock. We possessed the ball for over 35 minutes of the game. We were 57% conversions on third down. The Bison came into the game ranked 6th in the FCS in rush defense, but, when you factor out the sacks, we doubled Bucknell’s average yards against on the ground. Our defense swarmed around the field. We limited Bucknell to 33% conversions on third down. They came into the contest averaging 33 points per game, and until their score with just under 7 minutes to play, we held them to 14 points. Our special teams units blocked a punt, and executed a 72 yard punt that flipped the field.
Football is a complex and dynamic game, with several moving parts. It can very often come down to a few plays on each side of the ball that lead to the outcome. I told the players what our coaching staff saw – a team with great potential, learning to string plays together. As I stated, we made plays on Saturday night, we just didn’t do it enough to win. But, at the same time we understand that our players are continuing to show us signs they are capable of doing so. It all starts with the effort and enthusiasm with which they play for each other. That is there, and it is solid. I love taking the field with our team. For the second straight week we played nearly everyone on our travel roster, we played 56 of the 62 players that traveled.. We want to send a message that we believe in everyone in our locker room to do the job we ask them to, and we want to improve every one of them as football players. As we continue to build on the base offenses and defenses, we will need tremendous depth to run both successfully. Preparing our student-athletes in game situations is the only way to let them have success – and sometimes to show them on film how to get to the next step in their development.
I told the players after the Bucknell game that I don’t prepare speeches for losing because I don’t go into any game thinking we will. I did remind them that we haven’t played a game at home, and we haven’t kicked off one Ivy League contest yet. When your season is comprised of 10 games, each one is critical. Every play is important – that’s sometimes the hardest lesson for a team to learn.
There were a number of things I was very happy with that might not be readily visible, and those things eventually show up on the field on Saturdays. This game continues to challenge their competitiveness and resolve, and they answer appropriately every time. When you’re building a program you need to set a strong foundation, and our upperclassmen continue to do that with their leadership on and off the field. We’ve also thrown some young players into the fire and they’ve responded the way young players do – with some brilliant plays and with some teachable moments. Both the underclassmen and upperclassmen will be better for the challenges they’ve faced against Colgate and Bucknell.
Now we turn our attention to a Yale team flying high after winning its first two games in dramatic fashion – rallying from three touchdowns to defeat Lehigh and topping Army in overtime. They feature a powerful offense that is averaging more than 50 points per game and defense and special teams units unit charged up about their start, so we’ll be challenged in every aspect.
No team will be more ready to play football this Saturday. We get to change in our own locker room, run through the tunnel and stand in front of the Crescent ready to play an Ivy League game on a fall Saturday. Nothing is more exciting, and it’s precisely the reason I took this job. I hope you’ll be able to join us this weekend in Ithaca or watch on the Ivy League Digital Network. Thanks for your continued support of Big Red football and the student-athletes we are so proud of every week.
David J. Archer 05′
The Roger J. Weiss ’61
Head Coach of Football