In its home opener this Saturday, the Cornell football team will take the field against Yale amidst a plethora of fanfare for the “Schoellkopf Sellout II” campaign, a marketing blitz of dramatic scope and proportion designed to boost fan attendance. A myriad of activities and promotions will be on hand before, during and after the Red’s Ivy League opener, including tailgates, prize giveaways and fan contests.
“It’s an effort to get as many people on campus as possible excited about football,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87, who helped arrange the event. “A great turnout is a huge home-field advantage.”
The activities of the day are being organized by the Cornell Football Association — the largest athletic alumni organization at Cornell — in conjunction with the Cornell Athletic Department. The ultimate goal of the promotion is to eclipse the modern-day attendance record at Schoellkopf, a mark of 35,300 set in 1951 when the Red upset then-Rose Bowl champion Michigan, 20-7. The coach of the 1951 team, George “Lefty” James, will be honored along with his players during Saturday’s festivities.
However, in spite of the pageantry planned between snaps, the players on the current team remain focused on the task at hand. Following last Saturday’s disappointing loss at Bucknell, the Red is looking to get their Ivy League championship hopes back on track against a tough Yale squad. And after registering their 10th consecutive loss — tying a Cornell school record — the Red will try to let nothing distract it from the ultimate goal.
“We did some things well [against Bucknell],” Knowles said. “But we are still not pleased with the result. We have to get tougher and stay committed to our core values.”
Knowles and the coaching staff have been emphasizing the positive aspects of the season-opening loss, including the play of Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week, senior Joel Sussman. Sussman clicked into his new role at “whip” safety with ease, notching 10 total tackles against the Bison — including six solo. In the second quarter, Sussman also blocked two field goals, becoming the first Cornellian to ever block a pair of field goal attempts in one game, let alone one quarter. Furthermore, the senior out of Great Neck, N.Y. recovered a fumble on defense for the Red and was instrumental to the special teams unit on both returns (the unit averaged 9.5 yards per punt return and 19.7 yards on kickoffs) and coverage — Cornell’s special teams allowed only 19 total return yards.
“It’s a great honor to be named Ivy player of the week,” Sussman said. “There was no way I could have done it without the help of the defensive line and the entire defensive unit. For me, individual goals always come second to team goals.”
Another highlight of Saturday’s contest was the play of seniors D.J. Busch and Chad Nice, who fell into a rhythm early and connected for six receptions and 84 yards. Busch accumulated 193 aerial yards on 19-of-38 passing and rushed for 13 more yards on his own. The senior enabled the Red to spread the field throughout the game, hitting seven different receivers on at least one occasion. In addition, Busch led a Cornell offense which did not turn the ball over at any time.
“It was good to finally click in a game situation,” Busch said. “When you have outstanding playmakers on the field like Chad, [senior] Trent Carvolth and [junior] Brian Romney, it’s easy to make a big play.”
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor