Huskies to face a former weapon

By Brian Wiencek

The Wishbone.

It is something that NIU is very familiar with. Former NIU head coach Jerry Pettibone, now head coach at Oregon State, used it in his five-year tenure (1986-1990).

The Wishbone offense helped the Huskies finish No. 6 in the nation in team rushing in 1989 with 330.8 yards per game and No. 1 in the nation in 1990 with 344.6 yards per game. It also helped former NIU quarterback Stacey Robinson set the NCAA record for rushing yardage in a game with 308 against Fresno State in 1990.

However, instead of using it this Saturday in West Point, N.Y., the Huskies will have to defend it against the Cadets of Army for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

Needless to say, the Cadets are a rush-oriented football team. Army ranks No. 6 in the nation in rushing. Of the 579 plays that they have called this year, only 87 have been passes. 79 percent of their total offensive yardage is earned off of the run.

The Huskies will have to contain three athletes that have prospered from the Wishbone offense. The first is quarterback Rick Roper. Only a sophomore, Roper’s rushing offense almost surpasses his passing offense. This season, he has rushed 101 times for 441 yards and five touchdowns.

Another is fullback Steve Weber. His 600 yards on 139 carries leads the Cadets in rushing. He averages 4.3 yards per carry to go along with his three touchdowns.

The third is halfback Chad Davis. He has rushed 78 times for 404 yards and one touchdown while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Together, the three have compiled just over 50 percent of Army’s offense and 38 percent of its scoring.

Despite the Cadets’ 270 yards rushing per game, NIU head coach Charlie Sadler is prepared to handle the challenge.

“Our staff and players have experience with the Wishbone system,” said Sadler. “We expect a real battle.”

After an inaugural 4-7 record in 1991 for Army head coach Bob Sutton, things had to look up. However, despite a productive rushing offense, the Wishbone has not won Army a lot of football games.

The Cadets sit at 3-5 on the year, losing three of their last four ballgames. Army has suffered losses to North Carolina (22-9), Rutgers (45-10), Wake Forest (23-7) and Air Force (7-3).

The schedule gets even tougher for the Cadets going into the last two games of the 1992 season. Next weekend, they face Top 20 Boston College, and then they move on to face Navy Dec. 5 to finish-off the season.