After the second ever cancellation in program history, the football team will travel to New Haven, Conn. to open its season against Ivy foe Yale.
Tomorrow’s tilt marks the dawning of the Tim Pendergast era on East Hill. The former assistant under Maxie Baughan, returned to Ithaca to assume the head coaching duties after Pete Manguarian left to take a position with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Pendergast will be matching minds with a seasoned veteran coach across the field in Yale’s Jack Siedlecki. Siedlecki steered a program that was at best mediocre to a 23-17 mark over his four years patrolling the sidelines of the Yale Bowl. In 1999, he guided the team to an Ivy League title, which it split with Brown. Pendergast respects Siedlecki’s ability to bring a sense of experience to a team that graduated many of its top players last season.
“They are a very well-coached team and although they don’t have a lot of starters coming back, quite frankly they have experience,” he noted.
Tomorrow will be the first test for what Pendergast vows will be a new offensive approach to the game. The squad will seek to unveil a consistent running game — something that eluded them for the better part of last season.
Taking the charge for that responsibility will be the running back tandem of seniors Justin Dunleavy and Evan Simmons.
Pendergast was reticent to speak of his gameplan, though, saying, “We’re going to run it, throw it, rag ‘um and tag ‘um.”
One of the most interesting match-ups of the day will come at the quarterback position. Rahne looks to build on two stellar seasons in which he has authored his name in the annals of Cornell football lore. Yale’s Lee is also in his final season and has staked his claim as one of the premier arms in the Ivy League.
Lee has attracted much attention from the Red’s defensive corps and he will be the unit’s prime concern.
“We need to get a lot of pressure on him, and shake him up a little bit. But he still has a lot of good athletes to throw to. We have to force him out of the pocket,” offered senior linebacker Cory Ziskind.
The Eli QB has also garnered praise from Pendergast who likened him to Rahne.
“Peter’s a fine player. He’s one of the leaders out there as far as the quarterback position is concerned. He has a very strong lively arm,” he remarked.
“I think he’s similar in some ways to our own Ricky Rahne. I think that Ricky makes better decisions, and Peter might be a little more accurate.”
Pendergast knows the Yale offensive goes further than just Lee and is well aware that one of its strengths is to show different faces.
“They are very potent offensively. I think that they do some very different things from week to week,” he stated.
Yale is conservative on the other side of the ball, but Pendergast still expects the Eli’s to show flashes of aggressiveness.
“They play the ‘bend but don’t break’ type of defense. They don’t take a lot of chances and risks. But when they do they come after you pretty hard,” he observed.
The contest marks the Red’s first trip to the Yale Bowl since 1998. The venue, steeped in history elicited mixed sentiments from the team.
Pendergast listed taking the home crowd out of the game as one of his top priorities.
“My number one goal is to play at the Yale bowl and have their side be very quite and our side to be very loud — that means that we are winning. It can be just like playing at home. I don’t care were we play,” he stated.
Despite the looming events of last week, the Red is prepared for a battle on the field.
“Everyone’s ready for this game this weekend. Guys were disappointed about not playing last weekend. We’re going to come out that much harder. It’s a good opening game for us and a good test for us,” Simmons explained.
Archived article by Gary Schueller