After a short week of practice the Cornell sprint football team (1-2, 0-1 CSFL) hits the road to face Princeton (0-3, 0-1). The Red defeated the Tigers earlier in the season, 27-6 at Schoellkopf Field.
Midway through the season, Cornell has improved enormously since last year’s campaign. In three games, the team has already surpassed last season’s total in rushing yards, 295-266. Sophomore Dean Coccaro and senior Charlie Tam both stepped up in place of graduated Andrew Goodman, combining for 259 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries. Such efficiency can also be attributed to the offensive line, which has been impressive in spite of starting five first-year players.
“I’m proud of my [guys],” said Sam Walcott, offensive line coach, after Pride Bowl XXIII.
The line has also allowed its quarterbacks to operate more effectively as Tam and senior tri-captain Sunil Gupta have had time to look past their primary receivers. They are a combined 24 for 60 with 264 yards and three touchdowns.
As a unit the offense has been inconsistent, often settling for three and out drives. The squad began to pick up steam in its last game, though, taking its first two drives deep into Navy territory. The key has been its ability to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes.
Such mistakes can only be attributed to the play of the defense, which has a different look than last year’s swarming, attacking style. While allowing opposing offenses to move at will between the 30’s, the Red has clamped down at crucial moments. In its first game, the squad stopped Penn four times at the Cornell 30, with five minutes left to play and the Red leading 17-13. Against Princeton, the defense recorded two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and three sacks. Against Navy, the defense intercepted a pass deep in Red territory, early in the fourth quarter, with the team down, 25-10. The turnover gave the offense another chance to win.
In its last game against the Red, Princeton simply could not hold on to the ball as it recorded eight fumbles. Cornell wasn’t much better, recording four of its own. After a few initial miscues in the passing game, the coaching staff decided to stick to the ground as the team picked up 130 yards on 39 carries. The Tigers rolled up 319 yards, but only reached the endzone late in the fourth quarter.
Cornell will look to establish a balanced attack, utilizing its young line, while relying on its staunch defense.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin