Huskies eye opener with Cal-State team

By Eric Burt

NIU’s football season opener with Cal State-Fullerton (Sept. 2) is less than a week away, but the coaches are not worried.

“We’ve practiced hard to get ready for Cal State,” defensive coordinator Tim McGuire said. “We’re on schedule.”

The same holds true for the offense.

“Everybody came back in shape (for fall camp),” offensive coordinator Mike Summers said. “We’re where we need to be for the first game.”

However, the Huskies will be without offensive tackle Dan Smaha, who lost his final year of eligibitly because of academic problems. Smaha, regarded as an All-Independent candidate by numerous preseason grid-iron publications, leaves a 6-5, 257-pound gap in the Huskie offensive line, where he started the past two seasons.

The Titans won the last meeting between the two clubs, a 21-20 victory at Huskie Stadium in 1987. The Huskies won the first meeting between the clubs in the 1983 California Bowl by a 20-13 margin.

“We want to win every year,” head coach Jerry Pettibone said. “The reason why this should happen is the continuity in our program and our coaching staff, the number of returning starters and the depth we have developed in our program.”

The battle for quarterback during spring practice was won by junior Stacey Robinson. Sophomore walk-on Rob Rugai will back Robinson up along with the four incoming freshmen quarterbacks the Huskies signed last spring.

Bart Geiser is at the top of the QB class. During his senior year at Springfield Griffin he was 176-of-304 for 2441 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was named First-Team All-State by both the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune and was the Sun-Times Player of the Year. He also received Honorable Mention All-America and Illinois Player of the Year from USA Today.

Corey Frazier (Minneapolis) was 39-of-84 for 505 yards and six touchdowns his senior year and was named First-Team All-City.

Tyrone Leverett (Sarasota, Fl) came to NIU after seeing Marshall Taylor play against UNLV in a game that was televised on ESPN in 1987. Leverett was named First-Team All-District, Area, and County as a senior. He ran the wishbone in high school and in 1988 rushed for 453 yards and six touchdowns while throwing for 538 yards and seven touchdowns.

Larry Wynn (East St. Louis/Cahokia) was named Associated Press Honorable Mention All-State in 1988 after setting a single season school record by passing for 1189 yards.

“We have the same people with the exception of quarterback which will give us a quality increase,” Summers said. “It’s a matter of putting the right player in the right situation.”

Pettibone’s main priority this season is to improve on last year’s 7-4 mark.

“We want to prove to people that we can win on a consistent basis, that this 7-4 record was not some kind of one-shot deal,” Petibone said.

The Cal State-Fullerton game will begin at 6:35 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies go on the road the following week to face the Cornhuskers of Nebraska followed by a bye the next Saturday. After playing Kansas State on Sept. 23, NIU returns home Sept. 30 to face Western Illinois.

See Football Page 31


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