The football team successfully completed its first challenge of the 2003 season this past weekend with its 21-19 season-opening win over Bucknell.
Another big challenge is in store for the Red this Saturday, though. In addition to being Cornell’s first Ivy game of the season against a tough opponent in Yale, it will also be the first game the Red plays on the road.
One might expect that with such a daunting task on the horizon, the Red would be a bit apprehensive. This is just not so.
“I don’t really think there’s much of a difference between a road game and a home game,” said junior defensive lineman Mike McGinty. “It’s nice to play at home, some guys may get distracted on the road. But I don’t think it’s that bad.”
To the players and coaching staff, there is no difference between the week leading up to a road game and the week leading up to a home game.
“The biggest difference is offense goes to white jerseys, defense goes to reds. It’s the same mentality, it’s the same effort,” explained senior offensive lineman John Megaro.
The consistency in preparation is reflected in the Red’s performance on the road over the past few years. Last season, Cornell actually had a better road record (2-2) than home record (2-4). In 2001, Cornell’s only two wins came on the road, against Ivy foes Princeton and Dartmouth.
Head coach Tim Pendergast anticipates that this trend of success away from Ithaca will continue when the gridders board the buses tomorrow for the trip to New Haven.
“Mentally, you have to go and prepare the guys to go sit on a bus for five hours, and go to a strange hotel and a strange bed, and things like that. But fortunately, most of the players have been on a road trip before,” he said. “The guys are going to find it a new experience are the freshmen and the guys who haven’t traveled with us in the past. The experience component of our team right now is very, very good. Most of the guys who will be with us on that trip have been there before.”
One of these guys is Megaro.
“Everybody’s got a little bit of a ride ahead of us on Friday, other than that, it’s the same focus, the same concentration [as a home game],” he said. “We think we’re a much better team than we played against them the last two years and we’d really like to go out there and show everybody that we’re a lot better team than we have been.”
Megaro and the Red will look to use this experience to make an early statement about just how dangerous a road team Cornell can be. The Red will also attempt to prove that home field advantage can be overrated.
“It’s always nice to play on your home field, it’s what you’re used to,” said McGinty. “But being on the road I don’t think makes all that much of a difference.”
“Other than just trying to alert them that ‘hey we’re going to be on a bus for five hours’ and waking up in a strange place, I don’t know what you can do to prepare them,” added Pendergast.
Archived article by Owen Bochner