By SHANE LEWIS
After a heartbreaking Homecoming loss, which saw an inspired comeback bid fall short, the Red travels to Providence to take on the Brown Bears. Cornell (0-5, 0-2 Ivy) will be looking for its first win of the season, while Brown (2-3, 0-2 Ivy) will try and capture its first conference victory. The teams kick off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Brown Stadium.
Cornell is out to snap a six-game losing streak against the Bears. Brown Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Red, where they haven’t won since 2002.
The two teams are polar opposites in terms of offensive style. The Bears rely heavy on the passing attack, averaging more than 40 attempts and 250 yards a game. Last week against Princeton, Brown quarterback Marcus Fuller attempted a staggering 71 passes that resulted in 454 yards.
The Bears struggle running the football. Over the first five games, they have averaged less than three yards a carry and have passed the 100 yard mark only twice. They had an abysmal time running against Princeton, totaling -7 yards on the ground.
“Brown has traditionally established a run oriented attack, but last week threw the ball 70 times,” Cornell head coach David Archer said. “I expect their offense to pose a great challenge to our defense.”
Cornell, on the other hand, has been much more focused on a balanced attack. The team utilizes an equal mix of the run and the pass, with an emphasis on power running between tackles. Runs on first and second down are often used to set up favorable situations on later downs. The passing game relies on short to intermediate throws, although the Red also like to take several shots down the field per game.
Both the passing and running game have room for improvement, with both units falling in the bottom quarter of FCS teams in terms of yardage.
Another key difference between the teams is their experience levels. The Bears are led by senior Fuller and his talented duo of senior receivers, Troy Doles and Brian Strachan. On defense, the line-backing corps is led by senior Xavier Russo and the secondary by ball-hawking senior safety Jacob Supron. The Bears only start five underclassman on both sides of the ball.
Cornell is much younger in comparison. On defense, three of the team’s top five tacklers are underclassmen. The team’s leading tackler, Miles Norris, is a sophomore.
After a shoulder injury to junior James Few, the Red has had to rely on the quarterback combination of freshmen Jacob Jatis and Kyle Gallagher. Freshmen running backs Demetrius Daltirus and Josh Sweet also have had to carry a huge offensive load. In last weekend’s game against Lehigh, the tandem carried the ball 22 times. Daltirus’ rapid transition into the college game has required a swift change in mentality.
“After five games, it’s time to stop thinking like freshmen,” Daltirus said. “I think all the freshmen playing big minutes are starting to play faster and develop a better feel for the game. My decision making has become quicker and I’m ready to start playing the game more aggressive.”
Jatis will start at quarterback for the Red, although Archer will likely continue his cycling of the two quarterbacks.
“We are looking to grow and develop each player on our roster, and that includes the quarterbacks,” Archer said.
After almost tasting victory last weekend, the Red are ready to break through against the Bears. To do so, the offense must start generating some points. Against Lehigh, the offense went three and out or turned the ball over, on more than half of its possessions. The offense needs to do a much better job of winning the time possession battle and giving the Red defense a chance to rest. Although the defense shut down Lehigh for most of the game, they were clearly gassed in the fourth quarter, failing to stop Lehigh on a touchdown drive that sealed the game.
If the offense can sustain long drives that put points on the board and the defense can continue to play well, Cornell has a shot of ending their losing streak in Providence.
“At this point, we can no longer be excited with almost winning,” Gallagher said. “It’s time to step up, break through, and get that first victory.”