August 28, 2002

Expectations Usher Football Into Camp

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Oklahoma and other full contact drills were on the football team’s agenda yesterday as the squad put on full pads for the first time since last November. Fisticuffs, although not on that same itinerary, also broke out in the early morning practice as two players had to be separated nearing the end of the session.

However, the scuffle was quickly suppressed and the first session of the two-a-days ended without a hitch.

According to senior safety Jamie Moriarty, it is positive for the team to have that type of intensity this early in the season.

“It’s the first day we’ve put on pads but we’ve been intense throughout practice. We’ve been hitting the whole time,” he said.

On the whole, the team has expressed an upbeat attitude towards camp. Entering a second year under head coach Tim Pendergast, the team has found increased stability. Both offense and defense are more familiar with plays and schemes, and two players have been established as co-captains.

Seniors linebacker Nate Spitler and fullback Nate Archer were named captains during spring football. They are helping Pendergast with leadership duties, something that Pendergast lacked last year and is much needed considering the youth of the team.

“About 76 of our 110 players in camp are freshman and sophomores so we’re a very young, an extremely young team. And we have a senior class of only 15 players,” Pendergast said.

Despite the lack of upperclassman Pendergast expects improvements at most positions due to better depth and experience in his system.

It’s pretty much the same, he’s still expecting a lot from us

“The offense is function much better than it was last year at this time, it’s very fluid, I’m excited about the way it’s going,” Archer said.

Moriarty, who noticed an improvement in the defense, has specific goals for the season.

“I want to lead the Ivy League in interceptions, get as many turnovers as I can for the offense and just trying to be a leader,” he said.

Cornell is also trying to compensate for some key losses from graduation. Among the Class of 2002 were three-season starting quarterback Ricky Rahne and two-year leading rusher Evan Simmons. Competing for the starting quarterback position are senior Mickey Razzano, junior Marschall Berkes and junior transfer D.J. Busch.

“It’s a great battle right now,” Pendergast said of the QB race. “We’ve been looking up and down. The depth there and the battle is outstanding. We don’t have a crowned prince up there — someone’s got to earn that crown.”

“I’d like to see what Mick and Marshall can both do. They’re both very athletic, have good arms, good accuracy and great decision polls,” Archer said.

In the backfield, the Red is looking to Archer, his classmate Brian Ulbricht, and sophomore Marcus Blanks.

“As we mature back there we’ll be real good. Marcus Blanks looks real good back there,” Pendergast said.

Cornell was ranked seventh in the preseason Ivy League football poll. Harvard was ranked first followed by Princeton, Brown, Penn, Dartmouth and Yale. Columbia came in last. The Red has chosen to ignore those numbers, though.

“The last time we were picked seventh in the league we finished playing for the title at the end of the season. Pre-season polls don’t mean a damn thing,” Archer said.

The football team will continue camp through the next few weeks until it opens its season on Sept. 21 at Bucknell.

Archived article by Amanda Angel