October 12, 2007

Red Readies for Raiders, Fans Look to Homecoming

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Ever since Jim Knowles ’87 took over the helms as football coach for the Red, the squad has not lost consecutive home games. The team will hope to keep the pattern true tomorrow as the Red host Colgate (3-2, 1-1 Patriot League) for its homecoming game at 1 p.m.
Coming off a devastating 32-15 loss to Harvard this past weekend, Cornell (2-2, 0-2 Ivy) will have to quickly get over the game and look for a victory in front of thousands of alumni and students.
“We really we have to move on from this [the loss to Harvard],” said senior linebacker Ryan Blessing. “We have to get all our issues fixed and come out ready to play.”
Senior co-captain defensive back Colin Nash agrees with the sentiment.
“It’s homecoming, big day, got to impress the fans and alumni that come out,” he said. “It’s a new opponent, new week, and we are definitely excited to take them on.”
The task won’t be easy for Blessing and the Cornell defense as they face a Colgate (3-2) offense with two standout players. One is senior running back Jordan Scott averages 187.6 rushing yards per contest and is coming off a 270-yard performance last weekend against Bucknell.
“Stopping the run on defense is going to be very important,” Knowles said. “I think we’re really going to have to commit to stopping him [Scott]. I think at times, our defense has been very good at that and this will be a real challenge to them.”
In its 51-12 loss to Yale on Sept. 22, the defense allowed senior running back Mike McLeod to travel for 151 rushing yards. The Red will aim to improve upon that performance after reviewing the game film.
“After watching the Yale film, we learned that it is about technique and effort,” Knowles said. “It is not about a scheme or a plan, all it takes is one guy out of the gap and it can be big. Everybody must perform their responsibility as unit.”
Senior co-captain defensive back Colin Nash and the secondary will be left with the duties of covering Raiders’ receiver Erik Burke. Burke averages 89.2 receiving yards per contest, best in the Patriot League.
“We are going to mix it up,” Knowles said. “You will see Colin on him sometimes for sure. We will double cover him and do what we have to do to keep him controlled. He will make catches but we have to keep him controlled.”
If the Red can keep the Raiders’ powerhouse players in check, the job will be left to the offense to secure the homecoming victory. The offense might have to be successful without the services of senior running back Luke Siwula, who is listed as questionable.
“It’s hard without Luke,” Knowles said. “Not only is he a good player but he is also a motivational leader for us. But that’s football. My God, you are going to get some injuries and if you are going to be a good ballclub, you have to respond to them.”
Luckily for the Red, junior running back Shane Kilcoyne and Randy Barbour have shown some flashes of what they can do this year.
“Both have made some strides,” Knowles said. “Both have showed some things. We would like see Kilcoyne play like he did against Bucknell and Barbour play like he did against Georgetown. I think they both have it in them.”
In the 38-14 win over Bucknell, Kilcoyne had an overall great performance rushing for 25 yards on three carries and catching four balls for 26 yards. On the other hand, Barbour showed some promise in the 45-7 drumming of Georgetown, where he scored his first touchdown. In the game, Barbour rushed for 69 yards on nine carries.
“Randy Barbour has had a great week of practice,” Knowles said. “We think both of those guys can play well, we need one them to have a great game.”
Offensively, the Red will look to expose the Raiders’ man-to-man defense, which has been a big emphasis during practice this week. While they will look to expose some speed at the wide receiver position, the Red will be wary of Colgate senior linebacker Mike Gallihugh, who averages 11.6 tackles a game.
“He is a very good player,” Knowles said. “You still run the play that you have but you know where he is and you make sure you locate him so you can get your blocking schemes together.”