Although the play of the Cornell football team (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) has admittedly been erratic over the squad’s first four games, one factor which has stayed constant is the strong running game displayed by the offense.
Spearheaded by sophomore tailback Luke Siwula and senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn, Cornell has generated 862 yards on the ground, averaging an efficient 4.6 yards per carry and 215.5 total yards per game. This is in comparison to last year, when the Red averaged 93.7 yards on just 2.5 yards per carry.
Siwula has been the catalyst for the ground game, as he recorded three consecutive 100-yard games in his first three starts and has 90 carries for 488 yards – good for second in the league behind Brown’s Nick Hartigan.
Meanwhile, Kuhn has also been a major threat on the ground, ranking fifth in the Ivies in rushing yards per game with 72.2. The running game has become the focal point of the Cornell offensive scheme due to the fact that it was altered in the offseason to take advantage of Kuhn’s running ability and the team’s strength in that area.
“We really want to run the ball with Siwula and Johnston and Kuhn as much as we possibly can because if we are running it, that means we are ahead in the game and we have control of the time of possession,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87.
Cornell will host a Georgetown (3-3, 1-2 Patriot) team which has given up 159.7 yards per game and nine touchdowns on the ground this season. While the Red has virtually been able to successfully run at will against its first four opponents, the team is expecting a tough challenge from the Hoyas.
“From what I understand, they have a pretty good core of defensive ends that we’re going to be ready for,” Kuhn said. “They have a good defense from what I’ve seen on film so far and they’re going to come to play for sure. I’m sure they’re thinking that we’re overlooking them, but we’re not.”
On the Hoyas’ side, Georgetown head coach Bob Benson said that because his team runs a similar offense to Cornell, the Red’s rushing schemes will not be anything new. Stopping Siwula and company, however, will be a different matter.
“I think they’re a very good football team and it’s going to be a big challenge for us to win this one,” Benson said.
The Hoyas run defense is led by lineman Michael Ononibaku. The senior leads his teams in tackles for a loss, with 10, and also has 4.5 sacks so far this year – also a team high. He is joined on the front line by junior Alex Buzbee, who has recorded 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks over the 2005 season.
“The offense is geared around running the ball and so far, I think we’ve done a good job of executing it,” Kuhn said. “We were all on the same page during spring ball and through fall camp … It’s something that has meshed together really well.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor