For the first and only time this season, the Red took the field on Saturday with nothing at stake — and not even cheerleaders on the sidelines — during a scrimmage against Ithaca College.
The locals may have seen the game as an exciting match-up between two hometown teams in which neither would have to lose.
The Red, however, was all business.
For the Red football team, success in the 2001 season will be determined by a combination of hunger and confidence.
Too little of one or too much of the other may spell doom for a team that faces no fewer than five opponents which saw fourth quarter leads turn into last second defeats by the carnelian and white.
“[On Saturday] we were focusing on effort and coming together as a team, [and] there are certainly things that look right on track,” said Tim Pendergast, head coach.
The Red unveiled a multiple offense and defense last Saturday on the practice field behind Bartels Hall. But throughout the day the Red lacked consistency, which also afflicted last year’s squad.
In a league expected to be even more pass-happy than in 2000, during which the average Ivy League game totaled nearly 50 points, senior Ricky Rahne showed that he will remain one of the most prolific quarterbacks. With a 50-yard touchdown reception Saturday, junior Keith Ferguson proved capable of leading the Red on the receiving end.
Of the play that saw him streak through Ithaca’s coverage and blow easily by the secondary, Ferguson said, “It’s not something I did for show.”
“We have been practicing this for two years, Rahne, [junior wide receiver Tim] Hermann and I,” Ferguson said.
Shortly after Ferguson’s big catch, junior safety Jamie Moriarty forced an Ithaca fumble which junior cornerback Roscoe Newsome recovered and ran in for another score.
Despite the success in creating opportunities for itself, the Red gave similar chances to Ithaca.
“We did not play as well defensively as I had hoped,” Pendergast said. “We have got to find a way to prevent big plays.”
As preparations for the season opener against Bucknell get underway Thursday, the Red may be without senior safety Phil Rigueur, who was injured mid-way through the scrimmage. The fifth-year senior was assisted off the field by Red trainers.
The Cornell-Ithaca scrimmage offered each team practice in game situations, but such preseason affairs tend to be deceiving.
For one, the scoreboard never flashed a score Saturday. But even a tally of statistics would hardly be telling about any results of the meeting between the Red and Ithaca’s Division III team.
In fact, an actual game versus the Bombers may be as ambiguous an indicator of how the Red will fare in the Ivy League as are the season’s non-conference games. Last season Cornell struggled to an 0-3 record against the Patriot League but emerged 5-2 in the Ivy League, tying a school record for most league wins.
With so little to go by in the preseason, it is hard to gauge the accuracy of the Ivy League coaches’ preseason prediction of a fourth place finish for the Red.
Judging from the play on the field Saturday, however, some made statements in favor of another shot at the Ivy League title.
“I’m not supposed to [talk about the Ivy League preseason rankings,]” said Newsome, who then let crack a wry smile, unwilling to let the opportunity pass.
“Look out for the Big Red,” he said, confident of the team’s abilities and a bit hungry to get back to another title game.
Archived article by Matthew Hirsch