2016 FCS Preview: Cornell Big Red

Cornell P Chris Fraser (Columbia Spectator)
Cornell P Chris Fraser (Columbia Spectator)

Cornell Big Red

Head Coach: David Archer, 4th season (5-25)

Biggest strength in 2016: Probably not what Cornell fans want to hear, but their best player might be P Chris Fraser (Potomac, MD), one of the best punters at the FCS level with a 44.8 yard per punt average and 16 punts of more than 50 yards. If Cornell gets in a field position battle, Fraser could be the difference.

Biggest Challenge In 2016: In order to get back to over .500 ball, Cornell needs to desperately improve an offense that only managed an Ivy League-worst 14.2 points per game. QB Robert Somborn will start the preseason as the returning incumbent (1.874 yards) and will need to toss more than 12 passing TDs in order for the Big Red to thrive.

Biggest Departure: RB Luke Hagy. He led the Big Red in all-purpose yards last season (79.2 yards per game).

Player To Watch: WR Nesean Crofford (Alpharetta, GA). The speedy 5’10 transfer from Syracuse, a former walk-on, might help a Big Red offense that was ranked next-to-last in the Ivy League in passing offense in 2015.

Biggest Game: vs. Yale, 9/24/2016. Cornell’s first Ivy League game will establish whether they have a chance at running with the better league teams in 2016.

Rose-Colored Glasses Say: If David Archer’s squad can surprise Bucknell on the road and stun Yale at home in their first two games, they could firmly establish themselves as a team that is poised to finish at or above .500, a feat the Big Red haven’t accomplished since 2011.

Glass Half Empty Says: If, as expected, Bucknell and Yale roll over the Big Red in their first two games, it won’t get any easier against the defending Patriot League champions Colgate and co-Ivy League champion Harvard, both on the road. They could be facing 0-4 before they’ve played their second home game.

Cornell In Two Sentences: The Big Red haven’t cleared .500 since 2011, and haven’t been close to an Ivy League championship since Seinfeld was on the air. Getting over .500 has to be the goal, and the only way to do that is to knock out some Ivy teams that will be heavy favorites – not easy.

CSJ Projected Ranking: 8th, Ivy League