The football team has spent the past several weeks waiting for the opportunity to play against someone that does not have “Cornell” written on its jerseys. As of tomorrow afternoon, it won’t have to wait any longer. The Red will participate in its annual scrimmage against crosstown rival and Division III powerhouse, Ithaca College. The meeting will simulate game-like situations, as both teams will be preparing for their upcoming season openers.
“We’re going to work on running our offensive system and tempo and changing the speed of the game and being in a no-huddle attack. It’s going to be the first time we are going to do it and we have had issues with it during camp,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87.
So far, the Red’s offense has been adjusting to a new system and has experienced the growing pains that come along with it. Last season, Cornell ran a drop-back passing style, while this year, the team will feature an increased amount of motion, fakes, and play-action. The new playbook relies on timing and precision – something that will require much repetition.
“We have had guys jumping offside and things are not flowing right at times,” Knowles said. “From an offensive perspective, it’s just play management – getting the plays called, managing the 25-second clock, making the substitutions. It’s a no huddle attack, so everyone has got to look over to the sidelines, and changing the play and doing that kind of thing. So, the offense is taking the play from the call to the finish line and working on the tempo of the game.”
Most importantly, Knowles will be evaluating the play of senior starting quarterback Ryan Kuhn. In the Red’s intrasquad scrimmage last week, Kuhn wore a black jersey and was not hit at all by the defensive unit, despite his role in the Red’s running game. However, against the Bombers, Kuhn will be facing a more accurate game situation.
“[Kuhn] is going to be live,” Knowles said. “We made that decision as a staff, because if we are going to be this type of offense, we have to see what he can do – It’s not going to be for long – we don’t keep the starters in that long.”
When Kuhn exits, freshman quarterback Nathan Ford will be the first off the bench to take his place. Ford has impressed the coaching staff early in camp and at this point in time, he enters the season as the backup.
“He’s going to have to be ready to go,” Knowles said. “You know what it’s like to be a second team quarterback – you are only one play away from being everything for the offense. So, we are going to put him under the gun a little bit [tomorrow] and see how he reacts to it.”
As for the defense, it enters its second season in Knowles’ blitz-happy scheme and will look to build upon last year’s success. Against the Bombers, the coaching staff will be looking to identify the players who can step in and fill essential roles.
“On defense, we are trying to see who the best blitzers are – seeing the guys who can come full speed and be able to react and make a play,” Knowles said. “In practice, we are trying to get them come full speed, but you are not really making plays under that kind of game tempo. It’s all about finding out who are the best guys who can blitz and attack.”
Above all else, tomorrow’s scrimmage will give both sides of the ball some necessary game experience before the Red opens its season against Bucknell in two weeks. The venue for the scrimmage had not been confirmed as of yesterday.
Archived article by ryan Pepper
Sun Assistant Sports Editor