Delaware dominates Cornell; Rocco’s “expectations are higher”
In their first ever meeting, the Blue Hens dominated the Cornell Big Red, 41-14, Saturday afternoon, moving to 2-1 on the season.
“My expectations are higher than that,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said. “If we really would have played a clean game and a complete game, we could have dominated that scoreboard.”
Saturday’s matchup marked Cornell’s first game on the season after going 4-6 last year. The Big Red went 2-5 in Ivy League play a year ago and was picked to finish eighth in the Ivy League’s annual preseason poll. Despite the 41 points scored for the Hens, Rocco expressed his concern with the offense.
“Too many misfires on offense, too many miscues, too many negative plays, too many drives that we were unable to complete,” Rocco said. “We left a lot of points out there on the field.”
The 41 points scored is Delaware’s highest total for a single game since last season’s opener. On the first play from scrimmage, junior linebacker Troy Reeder forced a fumble that was recovered by senior defensive lineman Bilal Nichols to put the Hens in the redzone. Moments later, junior running back Kani Kane rushed into the endzone for a touchdown.
Kane scored three short-yardage touchdowns during the first half for the Hens. He has the ability to be the Hens go-to running back in red zone situations because of his 240-pound build and his six-foot height.
“Kani is a big back with really good feet,” Rocco said. “He just fits us right now.”
Delaware then scored on four more takeaways to go into halftime with a 27-point lead. The Blue Hens defense recorded four interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first half.
“Anytime you take the ball away like that, that’s just crushing to an offense,” Rocco said. “It’s very difficult for me to be critical of our defensive performance.”
The Blue Hens started the second half with an eight-play, 81-yard drive ending with Joe Walker’s 12-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jamie Jarmon, his first ever college touchdown. Jarmon also had eight catches for 84 yards on the day, both career highs.
“I have been saying since the start of camp that Jamie has just come on,” Rocco said. “He is a very explosive athlete. There are some things happening with Jamie right now: strength, confidence, speed and explosion that are making him a very complete receiver.”
Walker threw the ball for 202 yards, a career high, and running back Kareem Williams ran the ball for 124 yards — highlighted by two breakout runs. Rocco was upset with his offense and the special team’s performance that included two blocked field goals — a 49-yarder and a 43-yarder. He was pleased to see his team at the very least, win the game and get some opportunities to extend the lead.
“I’m very happy with the score and the outcome,” Rocco said. “We certainly needed to come in today and win the game and extend the lead against a football team that would compete really hard.”
Once again the defense proved itself as the team’s most dominant unit. They were able to get off the field, produce turnovers and completely shut down the Big Red running game, resulting in only 46 rushing yards for Cornell.
But Rocco again expressed disappointment in the progress of his offense.
“I have been spending so much time here that I’m not really advancing my agenda,” Rocco said. There are just some things that I just feel that we need to do a better job of.”
The Blue Hens are off the next two weeks and then the team takes on the defending NCAA champions, James Madison, at home on Sept. 30. JMU picked up another win this weekend, now sitting with a 3-0 record while outscoring their opponents 161-38 through the first three games. They also outscored Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent East Carolina 34-14.
“We owe them one,” defensive back Nasir Adderley said. “We are ready to take that W.”