The new era began last Tuesday for the football team, as first-year head coach Jim Knowles ’87 and his staff welcomed 108 players into preseason camp. With nearly a week of practice now complete, the Red is well into preparations for the season opener, which will take place on Sept. 18 at Bucknell.
Over the first six days of official practice, the team worked on conditioning, team speed and various positional drills during once-daily practice sessions.
“I feel like we’re in pretty good shape overall,” Knowles said Tuesday. “We’re still feeling each other out.”
After last season’s 1-9 finish, the team has set clear priorities for this, the 118th season of Cornell football. The team opens the year with a new mission statement and theme — “Cornell football is in the business of creating champions.”
On the field, returning veterans such as quarterback D.J. Busch and offensive lineman Kevin Boothe lead a vastly improving offense, which has benefited from contributions from senior wide receivers Chad Nice, Carlos Hill and Trent Carvolth.
“I felt the offense, particularly the passing game, was very good,” Knowles said on Tuesday. “Both D.J. Busch and Ryan Kuhn were accurate and put good balls out there for our receivers, and guys like Trent Carvolth and newcomer Brian Romney pulled down a couple of tough catches. In the spring, I think the defense was ahead of the offense, but it looks as though the offense has done a good job of picking up the new schemes.”
Cornell will also return a potent running game anchored by junior tailbacks Andre Hardaway and Josh Johnston. Johnston was the Red’s leading rusher last season with 446 total yards on 103 carries.
Boothe, an All-Ivy first-teamer last season will definitely be a focal point of the offensive line, as he attempts to solidify his place as an NFL prospect during his final campaign on the Hill. Seniors David Archer and Zach Beadle join Boothe as returners on the offensive line.
Defensively, the Red returns nine starters, including senior Joel Sussman, who will make the switch from linebacker to safety after missing the entire 2003 season due to injury. Cornell boasts an experienced defensive line, led by senior Ryan Lempa, who was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection a year ago.
Seniors David Blanks and Sean Nassoiy return at cornerback. Both will be returning from injuries that sidelined them for parts of last season and spring practice. The Red also returns linebackers Dan Collins, Paul Pardi, Patrick Potts, Ed Sabia and Rich Trumka. Senior Brad Kitlowski joins Sussman in making the switch from linebacker to safety, as Kitlowski will start at strong safety this year.
In addition to the Red’s returning players and 32 newcomers to this year’s squad, two members of the sprint football team worked out with the team during the first week of practice. Junior Alec Macaulay and sophomore Nick LiVigne took snaps with the quarterbacks before rejoining the sprint team when it began practice yesterday.
The Red began two-a-day sessions yesterday, and will continue doing so until classes begin on Thursday.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor