Injury streak bites NIU attack

By Carl Ackerman

Key injuries can be fatal to a talented team.

NIU’s football team will test this theory against Murray State Saturday after last week’s 35-0 win over Arkansas State. Numerous Huskies suffered injuries in the physical ASU battle.

Six-foot-one junior linebacker Nick Jones was one of the several Huskies who went down with an injury in last week’s whitewash over Division I-AA Arkansas State. Jones suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter with the Huskies leading 7-0.

“It was frustrating to just watch Saturday,” Jones said. “I wanted to play. This weekend I will probably sit out. I will be back by the Akron game.”

Six-foot-four senior free safety Kevin Cassidy, probably had one of his best overall performances of the season with an interception, a fumble recovery, eight tackles and a blocked field goal, but he suffered the consequences.

On his interception play, Cassidy injured his knee and is not expected back until the Akron game.

“I will be back for the Akron game. It’s going to be tough (to sit on the sidelines), but I had to do it part of last year. We’ve got enough depth so we should be all right,” Cassidy said.

Sophomore halfback Raymond Patterson was shaken up in the ASU game with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. He had to be escorted off the field because of a shoulder injury.

Things didn’t get any easier in the second quarter when Brett Schroeder was injured. He didn’t play the rest of the game but is expected back Saturday.

“It’s been a physical year, but I don’t think it’s any more than normal for us at this part of the season,” Huskie head coach Jerry Pettibone said.

NIU will have a week off after Saturday’s game which will give many injured players time to recuperate.

NIU has suffered just one season-ending injury this season when 6-1 senior fullback Erik Jensen was injured in the Nebraska game Sept. 8.

Although Pettibone doesn’t feel NIU’s recent burst of injuries will seriously hurt the Huskies’ performance, he is concerned.

“(The injuries) will have an influence, but I don’t think it will be a great influence. We’ve played a lot of players in the last three games. A lot of backups have received a lot of game action lately. I feel confident with our backups,” Pettibone said.