September 20, 2000

It's Not Over Yet, Folks

Print More

Make no mistake about it, Red fans. We got beat. We got beat bad.

This past weekend’s football loss to Bucknell was as bad a football game as I’ve ever seen this team put together. No, this was no Mike Hood ’99 getting sacked three dozen times, and it was no Ivy League destruction at the hands of Brown (circa every season in recent memory before last season).

This was worse.

Ask head coach Pete Mangurian, he’ll tell you.

“That’s as bad a defeat as I think I have ever been involved in since I’ve been coaching, and I got beat 55-10 in a Super Bowl,” a very dismayed coach said after Saturday’s shellacking.

And it’s not getting any easier. This weekend’s game against Ivy co-favorite Yale will be rough. Lehigh in week three is probably going to be worse.

But Schoellkopf faithful, it’s not time to toss in the towel just yet. This team can turn it around.

In fact, it will.

This is still the same team that was picked to finish atop the Ivy League.

This is the same group that last year surprised everyone with a 7-3 record.

The major components are still there. The minor components are still there.

Players just don’t go home over the summer and forget how to play football.

Ricky Rahne still knows how to pass, Joe Splendorio still knows how to catch and the defense still knows how to make stops.

Running back Evan Simmons showed some great things when he was given the blocking he needed. The bad news is that happened only twice in the game, and Simmons didn’t see the field in the second half when Cornell abandoned any chance of rushing the ball by putting in its four wide receiver set.

As a Bucknell team, when you see Ricky Rahne in the shotgun with four receivers out wide and running back Justin Dunleavy in the backfield, you know a pass is coming. You put your team in the nickel and hope your coverage can delay Splendorio & Co., from making plays.

This weekend that worked, as Rahne had trouble connecting and the receivers couldn’t make big catches when they needed to. This won’t happen again, you can bet a cold Ithaca winter it.

And don’t think that this team can’t beat its opponents even if it’s only thinking pass. Cornell did it last year against half a dozen teams, and it can do it again. The best receiving corps in the league are far superior to the best secondary in the league, hands down.

What the team needs to do is prove it can run. I know Evan Simmons can run, I’ve seen it happen. I know the offensive line can block, I’ve seen that happen to.

On several occasions this weekend, Rahne had more time to throw on one play than Hood got in four years. A couple of times, Rahne could have sat down and had lunch in the pocket, gotten up and still had time to hit a receiver. The team just needs to put together the running and the blocking.

Certainly not an impossibility.

When this team shows up this weekend, the players should possess a fire that it didn’t this past weekend.

If they don’t, Mangurian will put it there for them.

Rahne will pass, receivers will catch, blockers will block. Why? Because they can. They’re too talented not to.

If there’s one thing I have faith in, it’s that Mangurian is going to find a way to get this team back on track. When a coach possesses the passion and knowledge that Mangurian has, there’s no way he’s going to sit on his laurels and watch his team get killed week in and week out. The football players most likely got the lecturing of a lifetime this week. The press almost got one in the postgame interview, and we’re powerless.

So show up to the Homecoming game this weekend and expect to see a very different team than I saw last weekend.

Expect to see a team that wants to play and win badly. Expect to see a team that wants an Ivy Championship. If you don’t though, then this will certainly be a long season.

Make no mistake about that, Red fans.

Archived article by Charles Persons