Entering its Homecoming matchup with Brown, the Red is confident in its Ivy League chances despite the disappointing start to the season. To knock off the Bears, Cornell will need a strong performance in all phases in order to start 2-1 in Ivy League play for the first time since 2000.
Here are three keys to victory against Brown.
Establish the Running Game
Brown’s tough defense will stack the box, making running the football difficult for the Red’s backs. With senior Jack Gellatly and sophomore Harold Coles expected to return from injury, Cornell will need to stay committed to the run, despite Brown’s tendency to put “the whole student body” in the box, in the words of head coach David Archer ’05, and confuse the offense with changes in formation.
Cornell can take a page out of Princeton’s book; the Tigers ran for 284 yards in their 53-0 crushing of Brown last week. Brown has allowed almost twice as many passing yards as rushing yards, but the Red needs to use what has worked for them offensively the past few weeks in order to exploit throwing opportunities.
In its upset victory over Harvard two weeks ago, the Red used a trio of dominating running backs, who combined for over 200 yards. Gellatly, Coles and junior Chris Walker, questionable for Saturday’s game, all saw meaningful playing time. Keeping tailbacks fresh and keeping the defense honest will allow for explosive running plays and tough, between-the-tackles running to set up manageable second and third downs.
Protect the Quarterback
An offensive line vastly improved from the beginning of the season succeeded in keeping quarterback Dalton Banks on his feet against Harvard and Bucknell. But Brown poses a major defensive threat in a quick and skilled defensive end Richard Jarvis, who averages more than a sack per game and has forced four fumbles this season. Pass protection will allow the Cornell offense to execute well-timed play-action passes and deep shots against a run-focused Brown defense.
Keeping Banks on his feet will limit turnovers and allow him to make timely, accurate throws which will be key against a defense that, if allowed to sell out on the run, has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage and limit big gains. After a woeful start to the season in terms of turnovers, better offensive line play and a more conservative passing game have allowed the Red to limit its giveaways to one per game each of the last two weeks.
Channel the Homecoming Excitement
Poised to take a 2-1 league record into a tough second half, the Red has no shortage of reasons to be amped for this weekend’s contest. The Homecoming crowd will likely be the biggest the team sees this year. While it is just the team’s third Ivy League game, a win would give the team momentum heading into a tough stretch of road games. A loss at home would set the team back to a demoralizing 1-5 overall and greatly reduce its chances of capturing a league title — a feat the team believes is in reach.
The added pressure of a late 3 p.m. start and extra friends and family members in attendance may be just the boost of excitement the team needs. Upperclassmen will need to make sure younger players are poised and focused for a key league matchup.