Huskie backs look deep

By Thom Gippert

Experience. Depth. Quality throughout. All of these things were foreign to the NIU coaching staff the past several years when talking about the running back position.

This saturday when the Huskies line up against Cal-State Fullerton, one area the NIU coaching staff won’t have to worry about is the running back slot, because for once this could be considered the strongest area of the squad.

“I’m really pleased with the experience and depth,” Offensive Coordinator and Halfbacks coach Mike Summers said, “we have the depth we need to go through the season, last year that wasn’t the case.”

Spearheading this years talented group of runners is sophomore fullback Adam Dach. The Rockford-area native brings in impressive numbers from last years campaign as he racked up 906 yards rushing on 192 attempts while leading all major college freshmen in ground yardage. Even though the numbers he collects each week are gratifying, the wins are the important thing to the 6-0, 210-pound back.

“If we come away with a win and I only gain ten yards, I’ll be happy,” Dach said.

Dach enters into this season feeling healthy, something quite different this year as compared to last.

“I feel good, my body’s healthy, I don’t have any bumps or bruises going into this year.”

Depth and experience can be found at the halfback position. Mike Strasser and Tyrone Isaac will get the call as the halfbacks to start for the Huskies this Saturday night. Strasser enters this year as a junior after sitting out last year as a medical redshirt, but the 5-9, 179-pound right halfback has the experience the coaching staff needed. In the 1987 season, Strasser piled up 210 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards while scoring four touchdowns.

Isaac, on the other hand, will make his Huskie debut when he starts at the left halfback position Saturday. The red-shirt freshmen comes into this year with good spring game numbers and a hard work ethic. The 6-0, 182-pound back garnered 31 yards rushing in eight attempts in the spring game and then went on to capture the Most Improved Player Award last April.

Backing up Isaac and Strasser will be Brett Schroeder, Chris Norman, Milton Hammuck and Raymond Patterson, the lone true freshman of the quartet.

Schroeder enters the year after a successful freshmen season last year. The 6-0, 184-pound halfback was multi-dimensional for the Huskies last year as he rushed for 103 yards, caught seven passes for 77 yards and returned six punts for a 50-yard total. Norman comes into this season as a fifth-year senior with some experience throughout his four years as a Huskie. Hammuck, a 5-10, 172-pound sophomore, gained 33 yards in 14 attempts in his Huskie debut last season.

Juniors Chris Montgomery and Eric Jensen will be counted on to back up Dach at the fullback position.

While the running back is considered glamorous in other offensive schemes, that is not so with the Huskie wishbone.

“I’m looking for heart, someone who wants to be on the field, someone who’s tough, who can deliver in any situation and who I can depend on with fourth and goal,” Summers concluded.”

“If we come away with a win and I only gain ten yards, I’ll be happy.”

Adam Dach, fullback