October 17, 2008

Red Faces Tough Running Offense in Colgate

Print More

The last time Cornell played at home, it held Yale’s All-American tailback Mike McLeod to a mere 57 yards en route to a 17-14 upset over the preseason Ivy League favorite Bulldogs. Pla­ying tomorrow afternoon at Schoellkopf Field for just the second time this season, the Red will attempt to shut down an­other All-American running back. This time Cornell, and its No. 5-ranked run defense, welcomes Colgate and the Football Championship Series’ (FCS) leading rusher Jordan Scott.
The Raiders (4-2, 1-0 Patriot League) enter the contest averaging 259 rushing yards per game. This figure dwarfs the 111 yards combined Cornell (3-1, 1-1 Ivy) has allowed on the ground in its first three games. However, tomorrow will not be the first time the Red sees the 5-11, 205-pound tailback. Scott has already posted two career 100-yard games against Cornell with two trips to the end zone. On the positive side, the Red’s defense has held Scott to a meager 3.3 yards per carry.[img_assist|nid=32743|title=Don’t stop me now|desc=The Red’s run defense will need to put on a performance similar to the one it did against Yale’s All-American Mike McLeod (with ball) to stop Colgate’s Jordan Scott, the leading FCS rusher.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We’ve seen him for four years and he gets better every year,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “He’s the best at our level of football. You can’t stop him; you just have to contain him. You have to be able to have your people in the right position with one guy outside of him and one guy inside of him, keep him boxed in and then gang tackle him. You just have to get a lot of pursuit and a lot of people to the football.”
Last week, for the first time this season, the Red’s defense displayed some holes in a 38-17 loss to a Harvard team, which amassed 142 yards and two scores on the ground. Scott, who has drawn the eye of many NFL scouts, presents a formidable challenge to a Cornell defense that is eager to prove last weekend’s poor performance was an aberration.
“We just realized that last week wasn’t us,” said senior linebacker Graham Rihn. “Whatever we did on defense, that’s not what we’re going to do this week. In the back of everybody’s mind, we’re a little bit angry about what happened last week and we’re going to try to come out and make a difference.”
Some of the burden must also rest on the Cornell offense. In the early season, the Red has won the time of possession battle, maintaining the ball for approximately 33:40 per game, but that has not necessarily translated into points. Cornell has scored on 14 of its 19 trips in the red zone, but only 10 of the scores were of the touchdown variety.
“We’re hoping to score more points,” Knowles said. “You look back over the year and we’ve controlled the ball well. We’re doing fine, but we want to get the ball into the end zone. That’s important. We have to keep doing what we’re doing, but we just have to finish more drives.”
The Red has trumped the Raiders in each of the past two seasons and a victory would conclude Cornell’s second straight undefeated non-conference portion of the schedule. The Red is also currently riding a four-game home winning streak.
“Coming back to Schoellkopf after a couple of away games is unbelievable,” Rihn said. “We really have a confidence when we play here. We just come together and play really hard. When we play at Schoellkopf, we have a saying that goes, ‘We lock the gate.’ When a team comes in here, we lock the gate and we play our game. We play our best game at Schoellkopf.”