When you lose your home opener after leading by 14 points in the fourth quarter, you can bet you will face a wicked post-mortum.
ead coach Jerry Pettibone and quarterback/fullback coach Jay Shaake found themselves on the firing line Monday at the weekly Huskie Club luncheon, two days after Lamar overcame a two-touchdown deficit to beat NIU 39-35.
“We played well enough to win,” said Pettibone, who pointed out several instances where “we were an inch away from winning the game, and everybody would be here smiling and happy.”
But, while the club members were congenial, they were not smiling and happy. The second-guessing was fast and furious.
When Pettibone was asked why NIU did not throw more in their final drive, a two-minute drill culminating in a game-ending interception, he said, “I was wondering who was going to ask that today.” Shaake took the floor for the Huskie boss.
“The reason we ran as much during the final drive of the game is the same reason we ran as much as the end of the first half. We moved the ball 70-something yards and kicked a field goal,” Shaake said. “I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Without seeing the film yet, I don’t think there was anything else we would have done.”
Shaake referred in particular to two plays at the Lamar 28 with under 30 seconds to play, when quarterback Pete Genatempo tried to hit Virgil Gerin on two straight quick-outs.
“We got down deep and called a 15-to-20-yard route—one of our best plays, a percentage play—and the kid didn’t make the pass two times in a row. If we make that, we’re at the 15 with plenty of time, but what can you do?,” Shaake said.
Another question concerned a diving touchdown bid by Gerin in the third quarter, which was ruled out of the end zone. Pettibone said he had seen film of the play that showed Gerin’s knee out of bounds “about a hundreth of a second” before his foot dragged inbounds.
“The official was right on it, and it was a good call. I hoped at home we’d get it,” said Pettibone, who then said the Big 10 officials who work Huskie games are “the best officials I’ve seen in 20 years of coaching. You try coaching down south, in the Southeast Conference and places like that, and you’re gonna see Frank and Jesse James.”
Shaake and Pettibone discussed the quarterback situation at length. Veterans Genatempo and Marshall Taylor shared duty Saturday night, and Shaake said this rotation will continue.
“We don’t know about next week as far as who will play and when. Basically, all I can tell you is they’re both going to play a lot. The flow of the game will determine that,” Shaake said. “As far as production (Saturday), they both led two drives for touchdowns and a field goal. Pete did do a little better individually, but then Marshall did get the two two-point conversions.”
“We feel that we have two excellent quarterbacks, and the wishbone is an offense where the quarterback is in the fight and can get banged up quite a bit,” Pettibone said. “When you’ve got two of them in your offense, it helps to use them both over the course of a season. But we felt Pete could come in early in the season and be effective, and that’s what we did against Lamar.”
The session was not a permanent hot seat for Pettibone. With one game on the boards, the Huskie boss was able to report some impressive numbers put up by his offense.
The wishbone propelled the Huskies to sixth in the nation in total offense (with 484 yards) and eighth in rushing (294 yards) after the showing Saturday. Genatempo’s 94-yard running performance ranked him second among the nation’s quarterbacks.