The last time the Red played at home, 15,333 fans came out to watch a 45-6 rout over Yale. This Saturday, the squad returns to Schoellkopf Field for its final non-conference matchup against Monmouth (3-2, 2-1 NEC) — a team the Red (2-2, 1-1 Ivy League) has never played before.
“We’ve been looking forward to playing at home again,” said senior offensive lineman J.C. Tretter. “There’s always a little extra juice when you get to take that march up to the stadium and play in front of friends and family, it gives us an extra boost.”
Coming off a disappointing conference loss to Harvard last weekend, the Red will need that something extra to get back on track against an experienced Monmouth team that will be brand new to Cornell. According to Tretter, despite never having played the Hawks before, the squad is not changing much in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We’re doing the same stuff we always do — looking back at the games they have played,” he said. “Unfortunately we don’t have history on them like we do with other teams, but we’re taking extra time watching film.”
The Hawks had their three-game winning streak snapped in their most recent game against Albany, falling 55-24. However, Monmouth has proven its balanced offensive attack — averaging 228.6 passing yards and 161.4 rushing yards throughout the first five games of the season. Their defense has also been solid, limiting opposing quarterbacks to just 189 passing yards per game, something that the offensive line will have to be wary of.
Tretter realizes that the O-line will have to provide better coverage for junior quarterback Jeff Mathews than it did against the Crimson, where Mathews was brought down three times.
“We take pride in keeping [Mathews] upright and we’ve been doing extra drills to make sure we do that,” he said. “Monmouth is talented and active up front, so we’ll get that taken care of for Saturday.”
Against the defending Ivy champions last weekend, the Red really lost the game in the first and fourth quarters, where it was outscored 35-0. According to Tretter, the squad realizes what went wrong against the Crimson, and is working to turn it around against Monmouth.
“We have a very mature team and we all know we didn’t play our best game at Harvard,” he said. “We need to be better on third down.”
The Red was only 2-of-14 on third down conversions, compared to Harvard’s 7-of-14. The squad also only had 14 first downs, while the Crimson more than doubled that total with 30. The defense also struggled, failing to bring down Harvard’s elusive quarterback Colton Chapple at all throughout the game, and only breaking up five of his passes.
“We hate losing and we don’t want to do that anymore,” Tretter said.
The first step will be taking on Monmouth. With only six games left in the season — all of them Ivy matchups — the Red is in the homestretch and will likely have to win all six contests in order to challenge Harvard for the Ivy title. According to Tretter, this is well within what the team has planned to do all season long.
“For the seniors, we have six games left in our careers, and we want to control what we can,” he said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win out, to go 10-of-10. Now our goal is to go 6-of-6, but it starts with Monmouth.”