The sprint football team will be looking for its first victory of 2005 tomorrow at Schoellkopf Field when it takes on another winless squad, the Virgina Military Institute, for the first time ever. A newcomer to the sport, VMI is the first addition to Cornell’s schedule since Army in 1957; however, because VMI is not a member of the CSFL, the game will not count toward the Red’s league record.
The only comparison to be made between the two teams, given their lack of historical competition, results from each squad’s match-up against Navy earlier in the year. Last week, the Red fell to Navy, 41-0, marking the first time Cornell had been shut out since 2002. It was Navy’s second win of the season, with the first coming against VMI. This was another blowout for the Midshipmen, who scored on their first three plays en route to a 35-0 win.
Because VMI is in its first season as a sprint football team, it is difficult for Cornell head coach Terry Cullen to develop a strategy to defeat them. As a result the Red is focusing this week on doing what it does best, and doing it often.
“We don’t know anything about them, nothing at all,” Cullen said. “That does make it hard to plan for the game, but we are just going to focus on keeping our playbook balanced and running the plays that we know can succeed.”
Last weekend, the Red offense looked anemic in its attempts to move the ball downfield against the powerful Navy defense. Against VMI, the Red will be looking to get the train back on the tracks. To do this, Cullen knows they will have to establish the running game from the outset. Junior tailback Michael Fullowan leads the team in both rushing and receiving yardage, with 85 and 65 yards, respectively. A strong start for Fullowan will no doubt help senior quarterback Alec Macaulay, who through the early part of the season has struggled getting the ball to his receivers. He will be looking to get more people, notably wide senior receiver Jon Amoona, involved in the passing game in the coming weeks.
“We played a pathetic first half against [Navy] and we knew it,” Cullen said. “But the second half was a much different story. We played very well, and I think Navy had only one first down the entire second half.” The defense that held Navy in check for two quarters comes into the game against VMI boasting the league’s three leading tacklers. Senior defensive back Chris Deutschman, junior linebacker Jason Zittel and junior defensive lineman Matt Collin have spearheaded the defense through the first two weeks, leading a unit that has recorded 16 sacks, just two shy of its total in 2004.
The match-up against VMI could prove to be a crucial turning point in the season for the Red, who are looking for a victory to build momentum heading into a tough string of games against league rivals.
“I think that in football in general you’re always striving to improve each week,” Cullen said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do, maintain our momentum of improvement. We played terribly against Penn, we played better against Navy, and I think we’ll play even better than that against VMI.”
Archived article by Jacob Lieberman
Sun Staff Writer