The 100-yard rushing game has become a rare commodity for the Cornell football team. Since the graduation of Chad Levitt ’97, there have only been 12 instances when the Red broke the centennial mark. That averages to just over two games per season.
Those numbers make senior tailback Brian Ulbricht’s 159-yard effort against Towson last Saturday all the more impressive. In the breakout game of his career, Ulbricht confounded the Towson defense running for almost six yards per carry.
Even more impressive was the fact that Ulbricht was subbing for banged-up sophomore tailback Marcus Blanks. In fact, Ulbricht hadn’t even been a tailback for Cornell for the past two years, as he was the backup fullback behind senior captain Nate Archer last year and sat out the year before that.
However, when called upon, Ulbricht had a game most regular starters would envy. He was the first Cornellian to rush for over 150 yards in a game since Brad Kiesendahl ’98 racked up 173 against Lafayette in 1997.
“Obviously if I get called upon, I’m going to try to do my best and perform like I did last week,” Ulbricht said. “But it definitely was a thriller for me to have such a great performance when I got my opportunity.”
Ulbricht’s role becomes a little more ambiguous this week as Blanks will be ready to return to the lineup against Harvard this Saturday.
“To be quite honest, I don’t know exactly how my role will change, where I might fit in. Obviously now that Marcus is back, I’m not sure how much he’s going to be playing, how much I’m going to be playing,” Ulbricht said.
With Blanks ready, Ulbricht’s number of carries will ultimately have to decrease from the 27 he had last Saturday. Yet he will give the Red another threat in the backfield, an area that had some of the greatest question marks coming into the 2002 season.
Also to the Red’s benefit is the difference in styles of the two backs. Ulbricht, at 6-1, 210 pounds, can power his way through a defense, while Blanks presents a speedier outside threat.
“I think that Marcus is a great running back, I love to watch him. He’s really shifty and he knows a lot of moves, whereas I’m more of a bruising back, I like to run it up the gut and kinda hit into people,” Ulbricht said. “With the combination, we’re going to be harder to stop.
“It’s going to be harder for them to stop us on offense because we have so many weapons.”
Up to Saturday’s game against Towson, Ulbricht had two rushes in two games for a yard apiece. Those numbers might change in the upcoming games, according to Pendergast.
“He can’t get more than he got last week if Marcus is back, but there’s a good chance that he’ll touch the ball more than he did in the first two games,” he said.
Like most of his teammates, Ulbricht just hopes to help the team continue to add wins to its results. The football team’s next challenge is at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge where the defending Ivy champions wait. The Crimson is currently giving up 200 yards on the ground — a statistic Ulbricht hopes to work to the Red’s advantage. However, he hasn’t put a number on the amount of yards for himself.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to help out the offense. If I rush for 159 yards next week I’ll be happy, but if I rush for five yards and we win the game I’m going to be happy,” Ulbricht concluded.
Archived article by Amanda Angel