September 19, 2003

Red Opens Tomorrow in Battle of the 'Nell's

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While virtually every other team in Division I football has already taken to the field, Cornell’s been chained to the sidelines. The Red will break free of those chains tomorrow, as it kicks off its 2003 season by hosting the Bucknell Bison. Bucknell (2-0) is coming off of a bye week after winning its first two games of the season, while Cornell has only played a scrimmage against Ithaca College.

“I think when you’re sitting at home Saturday afternoons watching football games, you kind of feel out of place,” senior safety Neil Morrissey said. “Knowing that everyone’s playing before you, you kind of feel disadvantaged. You feel a sense of urgency because you’ve got to get things going.”

Cornell, which is used to seeing pass-happy offenses in its Ivy rivals, will get a vastly different look from Bucknell. Thus far into the season, Bucknell has attempted just 12 passes, including only three last week. The Bison have accrued 594 yards on the ground compared to just 63 passing yards.

Daris Wilson currently leads Bucknell with 169 yards, with Blamah Samor close behind at 147 yards. Frank Lazio, who got his first career start two weekends ago against Delaware State, ran for 114 yards and three scores.

Despite Bucknell’s prowess in the running game, the Red is confident that it can stop the Bison.

“The team speed is way up there. We trained really hard over the summer,” Morrissey said. “I definitely think we’ll be able to stop the run unlike last year.”

Cornell head coach Tim Pendergast expects Bucknell to diversify its offense tomorrow.

“I would suspect that we may see a few more throws but we’re not going to see 50 throws against us this Saturday,” he said.

Last season, the Red, with a relatively inexperienced squad, lost to the Bison in its opener by a 14-3 margin at Lewisburg, Penn. However, with many of its skill players gaining an extra year of experience, many of the Red feel that they are much better equipped this time around.

“That game experience is wonders. You can’t explain it … how much different a feeling it is after a full season,” senior quarterback Mick Razzano said. “We’re all way ahead of the game at this point.”

Opening the season at home is also an advantage for the Red.

“As a senior, it’s fantastic. With six home games, trying to get things going, getting out fan support, getting our fans behind us for the rest of the season, proving ourselves right off the start is huge for us,” Morrissey said.

Razzano reiterated the importance of a fast start.

“It’s our first home opener in a while,” Razzano said. “Obviously we want to come out here and prove to ourselves that we can win on our home field.”

Kicking off the 2003 season, Pendergast is looking for his team to execute.

“It comes down to the fundamentals in week number one. You try to see how far you’ve come in the little things. That’s going to be so vitally important for us this Saturday, that we show that we can handle the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “If we can execute, we’ll win.”

Archived article by Alex Ip