All eyes of the Cornell athletic community will be on new head football coach Tim Pendergast starting from now. And tomorrow will be Pendergast’s first opportunity to show the world how far the football team has come since his arrival as the Red hosts its first game against Ithaca College at 1:00 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field.
Pendergast’s coaching tactics will be highly visible as the Cornell intends to use the forum to concentrate on its own gameplan rather than the Bombers’.
Although the team will take the inaugural intra-city game seriously, the scrimmage will be highly controlled since neither team wants to incur injuries.
“It’s nice to hit someone else around and not beat each other up for a little while,” senior quarterback Ricky Rahne confessed.
“You’ve got to go into it like it’s a game, but we’re going to work on situations. We’re not going to just go out and kill each other. It’s going to be like a practice but with a different level of intensity,” he added.
Fifth-year senior defensive back Phil Rigueur also likes the introduction of exhibition games.
“Last year we did a lot of [intra-squad] scrimmaging. I think it will be extremely helpful to go against a different team and looking at different schemes besides our own offense,” he said.
Despite the close proximity of its opponent, Cornell knows little about IC.
“We’re not really preparing for [Ithaca],” Rahne said. “We have to go out there and make sure our plays are perfect.”
Many question marks have surfaced in the wake of last year’s graduating seniors, especially the receivers such as Joe Splendorio ’00, who continually drew double and triple coverage in 2000. Junior wideout Keith Ferguson will most likely get a large share of looks after leading the team in receiving yards as a sophomore with 680.
The running game suffered least as Cornell returns all of its rushers from the 2000 campaign, most notably seniors Evan Simmons and Justin Dunleavy.
Rahne is more than capable of being at the helm of the offense, a position he occupied for every game of the past two years.
On the defensive side, Pendergast has swapped players around the linebacker and backfield positions
“The way they make up the defense was to put the 11 best athletes on the field,” said Rigueur.
In fact Rigueur had to make the move from cornerback to a rover position to accommodate Pendergast’s goal.
Many of the freshmen will get playing time the Red needs to battle-test the rookies before the regular season opens. After spending 18 hours daily together, the freshmen are imbedded into the team makeup.
“I don’t really think of them as freshmen, I think of them as team members,” Rigueur said. “This is a solid freshman class, they’re going to help us a lot,” he continued, expressing the utmost confidence in their abilities.
But the coaching change is undeniably the most significant change from last year’s squad. But it is a change the team welcomes.
“It’s a totally different type of atmosphere from last year to this year,” Rigueur explained. “The chemistry is there. We trust them and they believe in us.”
Rahne downplayed the switch. “Overall, football coaches are football coaches.”
In retrospect, though he seemed pleased with the new personnel. “I think that it was a good change for us, it might have been getting a little stagnant.
Archived article by Amanda Angel