Time to take out the cats

By Brian Earle

Football may find itself in the midst of a trap game when Eastern Illinois comes into Huskie Stadium this Saturday.

The Panthers (3-0) are out of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) of the Ohio Valley Conference and are not a team to be taken lightly — especially senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo is on the cusp of putting his name at the top of the Panthers’ record books, above former quarterbacks Tony Romo and Sean Payton.

In the record books, Garoppolo is second in total yards with 9,269, touchdown passes with 79 and passing yards with 9,387. It is safe to say the Huskies (2-0) will have their hands full with him.

“He’s a tremendous football player, great quarterback,” said defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. “Anybody would agree to that if they had a chance to watch him play. He’s a great manager of their system, throws the ball with incredible accuracy, has good arm strength, can stay in the pocket, he can throw on the move. He is just a complete, total package deal as far as the quarterback goes.”

Garoppolo is coming off a career-setting game for him as well as the Panthers: He threw a school record seven touchdown passes and the team recorded 739 yards of total offense.

The secondary will have its hands full with the receiving core as Garoppolo has a number of receivers who can come up with big catches, most notably redshirt senior Erik Lora and redshirt junior Adam Drake.

“I think he [Garoppolo] is a really good quarterback…,” said senior safety Jimmie Ward. “Can’t overlook him, can’t overlook their wide receivers. I think No. 8 [Lora] is a really good wide receiver, I think they got a good core of wide receivers. I think it’s really going to be a tough game for the DBs. We’ll really get to show what we can do in our cover skills.”

As for the Huskies, they have had success against FCS teams in the past, going 11-2, with their last loss coming in 2007 to Southern Illinois, 34-31. The Huskies need to continue that trend and not overlook Eastern Illinois.

“I don’t think I have to tell our guys [Eastern is a good team],” said coach Rod Carey in a news conference. “Because we’re never in a position where we’re better than somebody. We just have to outwork them and go about it the hard way.”

With junior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis back from injury, the offense, along with redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, have been clicking, especially in the second half.

Lynch was able to get in rhythm in the second half against Idaho, totaling three out of his five touchdowns on the day, including a 61-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

“Honestly, I think we’re a second-half team,” said redshirt junior running back Cameron Stingily. “We take pride in the fourth quarter. Whatever the score is, we’re going to give it our all. When we were down, nobody flinched, nobody hesitated. We knew we were going to win.”