The football team dominated Georgetown in every facet of the game last Saturday to win its opener.
But that was last weekend.
The Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) have left the Hoyas thrashing in their rear view as they prepare to open their Ivy League schedule this Saturday against Cornell (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) in Ithaca for the school’s homecoming game.
“Cornell is a whole different team,” captain Bobby Abare ’09 said. “This is a whole different week. What happened last week has no effect on this week.”
Although Cornell was picked to finish just sixth in the Ivy League, the team that awaits the Elis is not one to be taken lightly.
The Big Red also opened their season last Saturday with a victory. The win did not come in Yale’s dominant fashion but did come over a better opponent; Bucknell (2-1) entered the contest undefeated, with victories over Duquesne (1-1) and Robert Morris (1-2).
Cornell features one of the most talented offense the Bulldogs will face. Three-year starting quarterback Nathan Ford completed 21 of his 26 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the opener and has one of the league’s most talented backfields at his disposal. Junior Randy Barbour ran the ball 23 times for 122 yards, while his backup, fifth-year senior Luke Siwula, carried the pigskin 15 times for 64 yards.
But Siwula isn’t a typical backup — he is actually one of the most prolific rushers in the school’s history. The Cortland, N.Y., native began the season fifth on the school’s all-time list in rushing yards and sixth in touchdowns — an indicator of how high the Cornell coaching staff must be on Barbour to have Siwula playing second fiddle.
Siwula’s 2007 season was cut short after just three games, but the tough-nosed runner still managed to lead the team in rushing touchdowns for the season, with six.
After holding the Hoya offense to just 46 rushing yards on 31 carries, the Elis believe another solid performance against the run is essential for their success.
“We need to defend their run game first and foremost,” Abare said. “They have some big guys up front and some hard runners. If we can do a decent job against their run game, then I think we stand a much better chance of doing well.”
On offense, the Bulldogs saw their passing offense erupt for 361 yards and four touchdowns between the duo of Ryan Fodor ’09 and Brook Hart ’11. But what they are really looking for is balance.
“We know after last weekend that we are capable of throwing the ball down the field, and we just want to keep that trend going,” Fodor said. “We are not expecting to throw for 300 or 400 hundred yards, we just know that we have to go out this weekend and execute the game plan, and if we do that, we should come away with a win.”
The Big Red defense will try to disrupt the timing of the Eli offense by blitzing continuously.
“Cornell is a high-risk-taking defense,” Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “They blitz often and look to make plays for a loss to put offenses off time. We need to make big plays when the opportunities arise.”
In order to make those big plays, the Yale running game will need to keep the aggressive Cornell defense off balance. The Eli backfield will look to return to its 2007 form against a stiff Cornell run defense that performed identically to the Bulldog defense on Saturday. Like Yale, Cornell allowed just 46 yards on 31 carries — but Mike McLeod ’09 wasn’t in a Bucknell uniform last Saturday.
Although the Walter Payton Award candidate had a “bad day” by his standards, he ran for a serviceable 78 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and it seems only a matter of time before Yale’s most prolific runner starts tearing up opposing defenses.
McLeod, however, won’t have the luxury of going to a steady backup this Saturday. Jordan Farrell ’10 tore his labrum in preseason and is out for the season, and Ricardo Galvez ’10 — who ran nine times for 42 yards — will be out Saturday with a hamstring pull.
That means Brandon Scott ’10 will likely add to his career totals of one carry for six yards, and Rodney Reynolds ’10 and the much-heralded Alex Thomas ’12 may see their first varsity action in the backfield to spell McLeod.