On paper, the sprint football team’s match-up tonight against Princeton appears to have the makings of a one-sided affair.
The Red has started the season 3-0 (1-0 CSFL) and is coming off a historic victory against perennial powerhouse Navy, while the Tigers (0-3, 0-1) have yet to win a game — one of those losses a 29-0 shutout against the Red on Sept. 22. Yet, despite the fact that Princeton hasn’t beaten the Red since 1999, Cornell will enter the game with the same attitude it does any other.
“The great thing about our team is that we’re always business-like,” said head coach Terry Cullen. “We are always able to perform on an even keel.”
In its first three games, the Red has balanced its offensive success with a suffocating defense that has yielded only 22 points and three touchdowns thus far to go along with six interceptions and 13 sacks.
Cornell completely stifled Princeton’s ground game in its first meeting while also holding the Tigers’ quarterback, senior Alex Kandabarow, to 16-for-54 passing. Kandabarow’s 16 completions were only good for 127 yards as the Red was able to prevent the Tigers from gaining yards after the catch. Cullen hopes this game yields a similar outcome.
“[Princeton’s] formation can create problems because they use a deep shotgun which makes it hard to get to [Kandabarow],” Cullen said. “He is able to get short passes away quickly so we need to make sure we stop [the receivers] soon after the catch.”
While the Tiger’s unique offensive attack — it almost solely uses four receivers and rarely runs the ball — failed to produce results against the Red, it has been garnering limited success recently. In its last two games, Princeton has scored at least a touchdown in each — yet, despite making progress on the offensive side of the ball, the Tiger’s defense yielded 104 points in the last two contests.
The Tigers’ struggles have led Cullen to adopt an offensive game plan geared towards keeping the ball on the ground.
“I’m hoping to run the football a lot more,” Cullen said. “I’d really like to keep the ball away from them and control the clock.”
Much of the running load will fall on the back of senior co-captain Mike Fullowan, who has amassed just 118 yards thus far this season. This will be a departure from the Red’s reliance on a passing attack — led by sopho more quarterback Zak Dentes, who has thrown for 570 yards with five touchdowns — that has produced the majority of its yards from scrimmage thus far. Dentes has been complemented this season by a strong receiving corps led by junior Jason Remillard and senior Sam Coe, who each have 11 catches.
The Red’s second matchup with the Tigers will commence tonight at 7 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field.