It’s all in the past now. After losing their home opener to Navy, Cornell sprint football will travel to Mansfield this weekend in search of the team’s first win to get the season on track.
“To us, last week doesn’t matter,” added senior running back Kevin Nathanson. “We are ready and excited to play Mansfield.”
The is Red is only looking forward and hopes that the loss to the Midshipmen only drives the team to improvement going forward.
“We’ve been concentrating on Mansfield and preparing for the game this weekend,” said senior defensive back Ryan Jackson. “What’s done is done. After any game, a win or a loss, you look back at what went well, what could have been done better, and then you move on to your next opponent.”
However, Cornell will need to fix up some parts of their game following a 33-point loss to Navy last weekend, specifically on defense.
“Against Navy, we weren’t able to stop at least two things on defense,” said co-head coach Bart Guccia. “Their outside running game was very good and we had trouble with that. And we had trouble with long passes. We weren’t able to to stop some big plays by their passing game.”
Another issue the Red faced against Navy was communication, which the team will need to lock down going forward.
“We need to communicate better with our coaches with what we see on the field,” Nathanson said. “Coaches are not allowed up in the box to oversee the other team’s formation, so it’s key that we are able to tell them exactly where they are lining up on the field.”
While Cornell struggled against a strong opponent in Navy, the group showed signs of quality play at times. However, mounting a win is a matter of consistency, which the Red could not seem to find.
“Consistent execution of our game-plan on both sides of the ball,” Jackson said of components the Red needs to improve on. “If we can achieve that, the score will take care of itself.”
This weekend’s opponent, Mansfield, also shows some weaknesses which they displayed last weekend against Penn.
“[Mansfield] played very tough against Penn,” Guccia said. “But, they turned the ball over four times, and all four times gave Penn great field position.”
Take away the turnovers, and the Mountaineers played Penn very close. Mansfield quarterback Adam Hutchison threw 4 interceptions, which attributed to the majority of Penn’s scoring.
“Three of the touchdowns that Penn scored were off turnovers,” Guccia said. “At the half, Penn was only leading, 10-0, and then 10-7 in the third quarter. The turnovers really hurt Mansfield.”
Despite offensive struggles, Mansfield’s defense was formidable. Penn was held to only 127 yards rushing.
“They’ve always been fairly decent on defense,” Guccia added.
Cornell has seen success against Mansfield in the past. In 2015, the Red defeated the Mountaineers, 33-7, in the first game of the season. That game was on the road, too.
In last year’s contest, the key was that Mansfield was held to under 147 yards of total offense. If Cornell can keep the offense in check and capitalize on Mansfield’s turnover problem, they will be in a prime position to win.
“We’ve had a great week of practice and preparation,” Jackson said. “We’re focusing on what we can control, and that’s our effort and our focus; we’re going to play hard and play smart, and the rest will take care of itself.”
And even after last weekend’s loss, the confidence seems to be flowing throughout the team.
“No matter who we are up against, I believe we have the players and coaches on our team to go toe-to-toe with anyone in our league,” Nathanson said. “Mansfield should be a good game, and we are looking forward to playing them this week.”
Cornell squares off against Mansfield on the road at 2 p.m. Saturday