Starting 0-5 can weigh on a team. It can cause athletes to lose faith and give up. It can demoralize players. But sophomore safety Nick Gesualdi believes that has not happened to the Cornell football team.
“We’re doing our best to block the record out,” Gesualdi said. “We still have a very positive attitude. We’re looking ahead to the next five weeks; we’ve got all Ivy games coming up, so we’re definitely keeping very positive minds and doing our best to perform at our top notch.”
In the Red’s first five games of the season, Cornell (0-5, 0-2 Ivy) has been outscored, 30-14, and outgained by almost 700 yards. The Red has turned the ball over 10 times, while forcing just two turnovers. Perhaps most alarmingly, Cornell has yet to score in the third quarter.
Yet the players maintain that the squad can still compete with other teams.
“The record definitely hurts,” said junior tight end Matt Sullivan. “Records are black and white. If you weren’t there, if you’re not in the locker room, then you don’t really understand what’s going on. It’s easy to the see the record and say, ‘Oh, they suck,’ but we don’t. We’re a good team and we know that.”
The Red will get another chance to show how good the team really is when Brown (3-2, 1-1) takes on Cornell tomorrow. The Bears enter the game on a three-game winning streak, including a victory over previously unbeaten Princeton (4-1, 1-1) last weekend.
Brown’s offense, ranked second in the Ivy League, is powered by quarterback Marcus Fuller. Despite missing most of the Bears’ matchup against Harvard, he currently leads the league in passing yards. Fuller has passed for over 400 yards in three games so far this season, including a four-touchdown game in a win over Rhode Island earlier in the season.
For Gesualdi and the rest of Cornell’s secondary, a big performance will be necessary to keep the Bears’ aerial offense in check.
“It’s going to be a nice challenge,” Gesualdi said. “We’re going to have to go up to get some balls and make some plays. There’s definitely going to be opportunities for us to make plays and come down with a few 50-50 balls — some of them just have to become ours.”
While Brown’s offense is one of the best in the league, its defense is one of the worst, ranking last in the league in points scored against. However, the banged-up Cornell offense may still struggle against the Bears. With senior running back Luke Hagy possibly still sidelined with a concussion suffered last week against Sacred Heart, the rushing duties will again fall to sophomore Josh Sweet and perhaps also to freshman Chris Walker, depending on his status following a concussion of his own.
“[Luke Hagy’s] an incredibly playmaker,” Sullivan said. “We have great confidence in some of the younger guys. They’re excited to step up and they’re ready to step up. We’d love to have Luke on Saturday and he’d definitely help our offense be productive, but we know we can be productive with other guys too.”
The quarterback position has a similar question mark attached to it. Even though junior Robert Somborn began the season as the starter, sophomore Jake Jatis has continued to see more and more playing time as the season has progressed. Head coach David Archer ’05 said that’s unlikely to change against Brown.
“We used them both against Sacred Heart and they played off each other,” Archer said. “Jake did some really nice things and Robert did some nice things … I expect both of them to play.”
Against a porous Brown secondary, the Red’s passing attack may be able to get back on track after a number of poor showings in recent weeks.
With half the season done, Cornell has an opportunity to get back on track with a win against Brown tomorrow. According to Gesualdi, the team has been able to forget about the previous losses and concentrate fully on the Bears.
“The past is the past, I can’t change what has happened,” Gesualdi said. “I just look forward to the next week. Prepare to the best of my ability and control what I can control.”