Sizing up the Huskies

By Sean Ostruszka



NIU head coach Joe Novak has a dilemma: one starting spot for two capable quarterbacks.

So far this season, experience has prevailed over young talent, and senior Phil Horvath has been named the starter over sophomore Dan Nicholson. But Huskie fans shouldn’t be surprised to see Nicholson taking the field from time to time throughout the season, just as he did at Ohio State.

But for the second consecutive year, it’s Horvath’s team. The Naperville native brings sound decision-making and an accurate arm to a team needing a quarterback who won’t lose the game. And Horvath can do that and more. Before breaking him arm in the ninth week last season, Horvath was the No. 8 rated passer in the country. He threw 18 touchdowns to just eight interceptions.

Waiting in the wings, Nicholson is as capable a backup as there is in the country. The sophomore came in and led NIU to the MAC championship game with wins over Central Michigan, Toledo, and Western Michigan.



NIU’s offense goes only as far as the running game takes it. And when Garrett Wolfe is in the backfield, chances are they’re going the distance.

Even before he compiled 285 total yards against No. 1 ranked Ohio State on Saturday, Wolfe was gaining notoriety around college football. The nations leading returning rusher was named to almost every major preseason award watch list — including Playboy All-American and the Heisman — despite missing three games last season.

With the graduation of A.J. Harris, sophomore Montell Clanton will take up the backup duties with limited experience. The 5-foot-9, 185 lbs. Clanton played in 11 games last season, but had only 21 carries for 102 yards.



Sam Hurd and Shatone Powers: NIU’s best two receivers last season. Best friends. Roommates. Graduated.

It’s hard to replace any top receiver, let alone two who caught over 50-percent of a team’s passes in 2005, but that is what the Huskie receivers have to do in 2006. Britt Davis, a converted quarterback, headlines the squad after a solid first season at his new position in which he caught 42 passes, including three touchdowns.

But after Davis, the position is unproven.

Senior Jarret Carter had only five catches last season and only one against Ohio State. Marcus Perez, Greg Turner and Marcus Lewis all will be vying for playing time behind Carter.

Senior Jake Nordin is a great blocking tight end who also flashes some hands. Nordin was fourth on the team last season with 26 catches, including five against Ohio State.

Offensive line


Contrast rules on this year’s line. All-American candidate Doug Free mans the left tackle position while sophomore Jon Brost holds down the right for the second-straight season. The outside is locked, but the middle of the line remains in flux.

Red-shirt freshman Eddie Adamski takes over for All-MAC center Brian Van Acker. Novak says he’ll try different rotations at the guard spot.

Junior Chris Acevedo and senior Matt Rogers started against Ohio State and are slated to start against Ohio, but true freshman Jason Onyebuagu has been impressing the coaching staff enough that he may move from center to guard. Red-shirt freshman Kevin Skatrud will also challenge for the left guard position.