November 14, 2008

Football Hopes for Better Luck on the Road

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Even with the Ivy League title out of sight, the football team still has a couple of games to look forward to, starting with Saturday’s afternoon matchup against Columbia. Cornell entered last weekend’s 37-14 win over Dartmouth with generous motivation stemming from a 51-39 defeat a year earlier. The team will have its own reasons to get pumped this weekend, as the team will travel to New York City for a contest that can be termed as a state championship.
[img_assist|nid=33580|title=Carry on|desc=Senior Luke Siwula (center) runs through a tackle in the Red’s 37-14 win over Dartmouth last Saturday in Ithaca. Cornell will play on the road this weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We always talk about this game as a state championship,” said senior safety Gus Krimm. “Columbia is definitely a rival, just seeing how close they are being the only other Ivy League team in New York.”
Both Cornell (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) and Columbia (1-7, 1-4) haven’t had much luck of late against other Ancient Eight teams. The Lions enter the contest with a subpar 1-4 conference record after a 42-28 loss to Harvard last week. Of the team’s seven overall loses, four of them have come by a touchdown or less. Nonetheless, the Red enter the game with a lot of confidence after breaking its four game losing streak last week.
“Practice has been good, very energetic,” Krimm said. “Everybody is going into this game very confident. Going away, we just want to make sure everybody has the right mentality for the game.”
Despite having only seven seniors on its offensive and defensive two-deep charts, the Lions have the third-best pass defense in the league — allowing only 304 yards per game. On the other hand, the Red enters the contest with the league’s best passing attack, with 287 yards per contest.
The ability to stop Columbia, however, will be the true challenge for Cornell. Last week, and all year in fact, the Red has been able to take advantage of opponents with one-dimensional attacks. The team won’t have that luxury this weekend, as the Lions routinely give defenses varying looks.
“Columbia offers a little bit of everything,” Krimm said. “Their game plan is really flexible. They run a lot of formations, a lot of options, motion and they have a lot of personnel groups.”
Attempting to be fully prepared for the varied attack, the team will have a practice this morning before heading downstate for the matchup. According to Krimm, the Red will do a good job against Columbia thanks to the upstate squad’s maturity and experience facing different offenses all season.
“The good thing about [having a group of veterans] is that it helps you when you have so many experienced players on the field,” Krimm said. “We have all seen the different looks before.”
Columbia is led by a pair of starting quarterbacks in Shane Kelly and M.A. Olawale, who have combined for 1,497 passing yards and eight touchdowns. The duo’s main target will be junior All-Ivy receiver Austin Knowlin. Knowlin has 31 catches on the season for 311 and four touchdowns.