Every game matters in a league where the champion is decided in just seven contests, but this Saturday’s tilt between Cornell and the defending Ivy League champions Yale looks like it will matter a little extra.
Cornell will host the preseason favorite Bulldogs on Saturday with an opportunity to begin Ivy League play with a win in front of a homecoming crowd — and to get some revenge for the 49-24 rout they suffered at the hands of Yale last year.
“We’re coming out there with a little vengeance remembering what happened last year,” said junior defensive lineman Jordan Landsman. “Coaches, players, we lost some nights of sleep over what happened last year.”
If the Red wants vengeance against the Bulldogs, they’ll need to bounce back quickly from last week’s 27-10 loss at Delaware.
“We want to play our best in front of our homecoming crowd and clean up the things we didn’t finish on the field against Delaware,” said head coach David Archer ’05.
After managing only 232 yards in week one, Cornell’s offense will make some changes this week. The coaching staff will try to find hot hand among their offensive weapons after three quarterbacks and a number of running backs saw action in the home opener.
“I think maybe the reps will change,” Archer said. “It’s important to get a little more rhythm established with guys who are playing better and maybe playing better that practice week.”
The Red will make adjustments on defense, too, despite a strong showing last Saturday that kept Cornell in the game.
“We can’t come in and have zero turnovers like we did last week,” Landsman said of the defense.
The focus on turnovers will not be limited to defense, as much of Cornell’s struggles in the first two weeks of last season were due to giveaways.
“I think one of the best improvements we made from last year’s Delaware game to this year’s Delaware game was turnovers,” Archer said. “When we went to the Yale Bowl last year we gave the ball away three or four times in the first half and that really changed the momentum.”
The Red’s big challenge on defense this week comes in the form of Yale’s sophomore running back Zane Dudek. Dudek led the league with 1,133 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns and tore up Cornell’s defense for 173 yards last season. To boot, Dudek is fresh off a monster 217-yard effort in Yale’s week one 31-28 overtime loss to Holy Cross.
“We’ve worked a lot on our pursuit angles,” Archer said. “[Dudek’s] a really elusive runner, he sets up his runs really well, he’s got great lateral quickness…he is exceptional.”
“Knowing how much of a threat their running back Zane Dudek is we have different personnel on our side of the ball, so we’re bringing it. It’s important to start hot and keep that going every play, every quarter,” Landsman said.
The Red is enthusiastic to put on a show for what will likely be football’s biggest crowd of the season.
“I love homecoming, he said. “I love home games here. The homecoming game’s always one of my favorite days.”.
Kickoff of the Homecoming contest is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Schoellkopf Field.