The question on the minds of Cornell football followers today is, “Which team will show up tomorrow at Colgate?”
The answer, however, is not as easy to come up with, as the Red has done its best Jekyll and Hyde impression in its first two games of 2005. Will the Red come out against the Red Raiders (1-2) firing on all cylinders, as it did in its 24-7 win over Bucknell when the team rushed for 293 yards? Or will the team play as it did in its 34-17 loss at Yale last Saturday, when senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn threw three interceptions?
Head coach Jim Knowles ’87 is not sure which team it will be tomorrow, but he does know that the effort will be there.
“[The team] is hungry, determined to do better this time out,” he said. “We didn’t show up last Saturday and we’re better than that.”
One of the areas of concern last week for the Red was the ineptitude of the passing game, which produced just nine completions for 90 yards until freshman Nathan Ford came in late in the game and threw for 112 yards on 10-of-17 passing.
Yet, the Red’s running attack remained solid, as sophomore Luke Siwula continued his strong play, rushing for a career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns. In two games this season, Siwula has rushed for 234 yards and three scores.
Knowles believes that the Red’s ability to run the football will aid its passing game tomorrow. “We are definitely going to have to throw the ball down the field more through play action,” he said. “We’re going to have to run the ball, get them to commit to it and then throw the ball downfield.”
Throwing the ball might prove to be a difficult task against a Colgate defense which has collected eight interceptions this season, including five in a 17-14 win over Massachusetts.
Turning the ball over was a problem for Kuhn last weekend, as three of his passes ended up in the grasp of a Yale defender. Only nine of his 23 passes found Cornell receivers and his longest throw from scrimmage on the day was just 16 yards, which led many to believe that Ford would see the bulk of the playing time tomorrow.
Knowles noted that Kuhn will start the game, but Ford has earned some playing time as well – and not just in the fourth quarter of a blowout.
“Regardless of how Ryan played, Nathan Ford has earned the opportunity to be in the game when the game is still on the line,” Knowles said. “He had his chance, made the most of it, and now he deserves more.”
The only foreseeable problem with the rotation between the two signal callers, according to Knowles, will be tipping the defense, as Kuhn is more of a runner, while Ford is more of a pure passer.
“The question becomes how to [rotate them] without totally playing your hand – like one guy is going to run, one guy is going to pass,” he said. “So, you keep working Nathan Ford as a runner and you keep working Ryan Kuhn as a passer. Ultimately, one of them has to be able to do both.”
Like the offense, the Cornell defense’s focus during the week has also been on the passing game. The Red is trying to improve on its performance last week when it was torched by Yale quarterback Jeff Mroz for 314 yards and five touchdowns.
Yet, Knowles offered that the problem’s in the secondary were more a lack of execution than a problem with the defensive schemes.
“There’s not much you can do. Whether you’re in zone or man, if they just take off and run, you’ve got to stay deeper than the guy,” he said.
Therefore, Knowles noted that his defense will continue to blitz and be aggressive despite its problems in the secondary.
“We have to [stay aggressive],” Knowles said. “We’ve just got to find the right guys to cover, that’s all.”
Archived article by Christopher Mascaro
Sun Sports Editor