While the football team has been practicing for several weeks, yesterday marked the first time both the offensive and defensive units have seen a significant amount of actual game experience — albeit against each other. The intrasquad scrimmage, held at Schoellkopf Field yesterday, pitted the Red offense against a defense that ranked first in the Ivy League in rush yards allowed a year ago. Therefore, it came as no surprise that the Cornell defense stifled its opponent, allowing only three touchdowns in over 15 possessions — two of which came when the offense began in the red zone.
“I thought that is the usual case this time of year that the defense is ahead of our offense,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87.
One of the possible reasons for the lack of production offensively was the absence of fifth-year senior offensive lineman Kevin Boothe.
“We miss Boothe for sure,” Knowles said. “He brings a kind of different energy to the offensive line and he will be back tomorrow. We probably could have pushed him today if we wanted to, but there is no reason to.”
The gaping 327-pound hole at right tackle put the Red offense at a disadvantage, and the defense gave them little opportunity to recover. Junior Jeff Dicks was involved in several tackles from his defensive line spot, including a nine-yard sack on senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn. Junior Ryan Kiscadden also chipped in with a pair of tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
In addition to the efforts of the front four, Knowles was very pleased by the play of the secondary. Three different players made interceptions and the starting corners provided tight coverage on routes down the field.
“Our corners were much improved,” Knowles said. “I thought [senior] Jason Cloyd and [junior] Matt Grant played extremely well. We had a great defense last year, but we had a weakness at the corner position and those were the two guys that were there. It thought they had a really great day … We were great against the run last year and we need to get better against the pass and I think we saw that today.”
Though the offense struggled to move the ball at times, there were bright spots in its performance — particularly at the quarterback position. Kuhn displayed his mobility in the pocket by avoiding heavy pressure and scrambling for positive yards. He also ran successfully on several designed option plays, despite the fact the defense was not tackling the starter to the ground.
“My initial impression of how he did today was just okay in terms of his accuracy,” Knowles said. “He ran the offense well. He has really been having a good camp and he has been highly accurate … I think he is going to be a very good quarterback this year. I think he has all the tools. But, we are not tackling him so I think he is going to make even more yards with his feet.”
Freshman Nathan Ford also took a turn at the quarterback position. In his debut for the Red, Ford tossed the first touchdown of the afternoon — a long pass down the left sideline to senior Brian Romney. On the ground for Cornell, senior Joshua Johnston and sophomore Luke Siwula shared the majority of the carries, with the second-year man breaking through for a two-yard touchdown run.
“I think Luke Siwula is going to surprise some people,” Knowles said. “I think he’s a guy that can make you miss and he is always going to get positive yards. He has come out of nowhere and I don’t think anyone really has him on the radar. I think he is going to surprise.”
The team will continue scrimmages in the weeks leading up to the season-opener against Bucknell on September 17.
“The defense looked sharp at times. The offense looked sharp. They moved the ball, had some big plays,” Knowles said. “I’m pleased with the overall effort.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Assistant Sports Editor