Sadler’s mind made up; McKinney stays

By Wes Swietek

If there’s a quarterback controversy regarding the NIU football team, it certainly doesn’t stem from any indecision on the part of the head coach.

Charlie Sadler emphatically said Monday that Stacey McKinney will be the starting quarterback Saturday at Florida, and for the foreseeable future.

After McKinney was injured in Saturday’s 22-10 loss to Western Michigan, backup Rob Rugai turned in a solid performance in relief, leading to speculation that Rugai might take over.

There have also been charges that the offense responds better to Rugai.

“I watch our players on each and every down, and there’s not a difference,” Sadler said. “There’s support for both—(But) there’s not a division on this football team.”

Sadler said only an injury would prevent McKinney from starting, but the way NIU’s season has been going health-wise, another NIU injury wouldn’t be surprising.

The latest addition to NIU’s growing list of casualties is cornerback MacArthur Griffin, who’ll miss Saturday’s game because of pending thumb surgery.

Injuries have been only one of the factors that has led to the Huskies 1-5 record. But Sadler sees some bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.

“I’m encouraged by our total offensive output. I’m encouraged about the play of the defense overall except for in some critical situations Saturday.”

“I think that we’re a much improved team over when we played Arkansas State (the second game of the season),” Sadler said.

“I am dissapointed because Saturday we probably should have won the game—we added to Western Michigan’s opportunities to beat us, (but) I think there were some things to be encouraged about.

But now the Huskies face their biggest challenge, traveling to 6th-ranked Florida.

“Florida is an extremely talented football team,” Sadler said. “They’re obviously one of the most dominating teams in the country.”

But despite the monumental odds against his squad, Sadler said he would not be satisfied with a close loss against Florida.

“We will never go into a game looking to just show up,” Sadler said. “But we’ll obviously need to have some breaks and have great, great execution.”