After seven days of assessing what happened at Yale, the Cornell football team (0-1, 0-1 Ivy) will enter Colgate’s Andy Kerr Stadium trying to prove last week’s debacle was a fluke.
Head coach Tim Pendergast began the season promising a revitalized run game balancing the Red’s already respected passing offense. While most of the burden fell to senior tailbacks Evan Simmons and Justin Dunleavy, and junior fullbacks Nate Archer and Brian Ulbricht, it was senior quarterback Ricky Rahne who led the team in yards rushing with 32.
In the end the highly touted running game amassed 66 grounds yards, even though the Elis boast arguably the best defenses in the Ivies.
But unlike last year, the aerial attack couldn’t compensate. Rahne threw for 136 yards, his lowest total in his career on East Hill.
“Every game is a learning experience, and coach told us we’re not going to give up on the run game,” Simmons said. “As of Sunday, the whole team realized that we have a lot of work to do, as far as the running game. So it’s been one of the major focuses this week in practice. Against Colgate it will be a chance to see how far we’ve gotten along.”
“Were not necessarily making adjustments,” Pendergast seconded. “We can take a lot at what we did last week, evaluate it and tweak it where necessary.”
“We have to block better. We have to come off the ball better. We have to come off the ball better,” he added.
The offensive line’s ability to protect Rahne and open holes in the defense will be key, as the Elis routinely held the rushers at the line of scrimmage and had Rahne scrambling.
The Red’s 4-4 defense had bright points, sacking Yale quarterback Peter Lee four times. But the scant secondary often left the middle of the field open.
Junior linebacker Nate Spitler was one of the most effective defensive players last week, leading the team in tackles despite missing most of the first half due to dehydration.
“Nate was clearly a bright spot,” Pendergast asserted. “We clearly had other bright spots. We played well that first quarter. We played well defensively to start the third quarter both series. We played pretty well for a little over a quarter.”
If the Red can revitalize its running game, the defense will benefit. Last Saturday, it was worn down while Yale commanded time of possession in the second half.
Hopefully for the Red, many of its woes have been ameliorated in practice while preparing a more fearsome foe in Colgate (1-2).
The Patriot League team has a talented lineup of wideouts, a rushing game that ran for 293 on Cornell last year, and a defense that boasts as good or better athletes than Yale’s.
“They’re a very explosive offensive. They’ve been for years,” Pendergast remarked.
“It has a tenacious defense. They run. They play well together. Dick Biddle is a defensive minded coach,” he continued. “They have some very outstanding players. They’re going to present us with some problems. There’s no question about that.
The mentality among the squad remains positive going into tomorrow’s game.
“The mood of the team has been outstanding,” Pendergast said at a press conference Wednesday. “We probably had our two best days of practice in a row Tuesday and Wednesday.”
And the team will continue to focus and stay on track having eight games still left in the season.
“[We’re going to] keep doing the same things,” Pendergast assured. “We don’t believe in pushing the panic button. Last time I looked, we played one game. I don’t think one game tells the story.”
Archived article by Amanda Angel