K-State next on slate for NIU team

By Thom Gippert

Even though the Huskies did not have a game to prepare for this past Saturday, the pads were still popping at practice last week for the NIU football team.

With the first two games under their belts, the Huskies hope to get back on the winning track when they travel to Manhatten, Kan., this Saturday (Sept. 23) to take on the Kansas State Wildcats.

Last week’s practices were anything but easy as the squad hit more than it usually would during a regular game week.

NIU came away from Nebraska relatively injury-free and that gave the NIU coaching staff the opportunity to work on some game preparation for the Wildcats and the players to still have a chance to butt some helmets and crack some shoulder pads.

“We had some pretty physical practices last week and it’s been good for us. We’ve been able to work on some things that Kansas State does,” NIU head coach Jerry Pettibone said.

The one lingering injury from Nebraska is linebacker Ron Delisi, who has an injured wrist. Pettibone said that he should know by Tuesday what Delisi’s status will be for Saturday’s contest. In last week’s practices, guard Scott Elliot and linebacker Nick Jones were banged up a bit, but both should be able to play against the Wildcats.

Kansas State enters this Saturday with string of 29 straight games without a win, but the Wildcats cannot be considered a slouch by any means. As a member of the Big-Eight Conference, the Wildcats face the likes of Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado every year. K-State also has had non-conference foes such as Iowa, Arizona State and Army on their schedule.

“They’re still a Big-Eight team and they have good athletes on the team. We’re going to have to play hard and it will be a dogfight,” Pettibone said.

The Wildcats have two losses so far this season and have battled Arizona State and Northern Iowa, two respectable teams.

With a new head coach for K-State this season, the Huskies must be prepared for anything because new Wildcat mentor, Bill Snyder, thrives on the unpredictable.

Snyder comes to K-State from the University of Iowa where he had been offensive coordinator for the past 10 years. At Iowa, Snyder coached such quarterbacks as Chuck Long, now with the Detroit Lions, Mark Vlasic of the San Diego Chargers and Chuck Hartlieb, who was drafted by the Houston Oilers. The first-time head coach wants the Wildcats to have a balanced attack on offense and an unpredictable style of defense.

While K-State will do anything on any down on either side of the ball, the Huskies will not stray from their game plan and their offensive and defensive schemes, Pettibone said.