Coaches often preach on taking every game as being equally important. But this one might mean a little more than the rest.
“No game is more important than the other,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “But we do have every reason in the world to try and win this one.”
Coming off an important 17-14 homecoming win against Colgate, Cornell (3-2, 0-2 Ivy) had to quickly move past the contest. The Red has failed to beat the Bears since 2002, and a win would give the Red its first winning streak of the season.
“We got over the game right away,” said junior safety Gus Krimm. “As soon as the clock hit 0, we celebrate and we realize what we accomplished. It was nice to win our homecoming game but we know the next game is Ivy League game and that is what’s important.”
A win this Saturday would not only give the Red its first winning streak of the year, but potentially give it some momentum going into the remainder of the season.
“[A win] is huge,” said junior quarterback Nathan Ford. “Every great team has to have consistency. We have been up and down and a win would definitely be a huge step and take us into the rest of the season. It would set the tone.”
Krimm, like Ford believes in the importance of having back-to-back wins.
“We have played really well in some games, and then we turn around and the wheels just fall off,” Krimm said. “It’s really big to get some consistency here and get a little momentum going. After that, things should take care of itself.”
In order for the Cornell to do so, Ford might have to stay on par with Brown’s (2-3, 1-1) No. 1-ranked passing attack. Bears junior quarterback Michael Dougherty averages 337.2 passing yards a game, while Ford ranks 17th nationally with 243.0 yards per game. Dougherty has also thrown 11 touchdowns to Ford’s three.
“[This week’s] practice is about ball control and security,” Ford said. “The best way to keep their offense at bay is to keep them off the field.”With Cornell averaging 30:14 possession minutes per game, Ford will look to his running game to make sure Dougherty doesn’t have a chance to show off his arm.
“Establishing the running game is going to be huge this week,” Ford said. “With Luke [Siwula] out, it has put a strain on us but we have stuck with the same concept and stuck with plays and it has helped.”
That might be an issue, however, with senior running back Luke Siwula only hopeful to return to the Red’s lineup. Even if Siwula doesn’t return, Knowles wants a better performance in the running game compared to last weekend. In the win over Colgate, the tandem of junior Shane Kilcoyne and sophomore Randy Barbour only totaled 57 yards.
“We need to get better in our running game,” Knowles said. “Randy Barbour and Shane Kilcoyne have put together great efforts but our offensive line has to get better. As a unit, we expect more from them. We are just keying on them to play better this weekend.”
If the running game fails, you can expect additional pressure to be placed on the defense, especially Krimm and the secondary.
“They pass anywhere from 45 to 65 times in a game,” Krimm said. “We have focused on their two top receivers and containing the run.”
Brown’s top-2 receivers are senior Paul Raymond and sophomore Buddy Farnham. Raymond ranks third nationally with 123.0 receiving yards per contest while Farnham is second on the team with 84.0 yards per game. Not to be forgotten is junior Colin Cloherty, who the Red players have a vivid memory of. Last year, Cloherty made two touchdowns receptions of 51 and 12 yards in the Red’s 28-7 road loss to the Bears.
“More importantly, we would like to get the seniors the win against Brown,” Ford said. “I haven’t beaten them, even our fifth year seniors have not beating them. It would be a great way to send them out and give them some closure.”