NIU limping into Saturday’s game

By Brian Wiencek

Losing the game last Saturday was the wound. Losing the players was the wound with salt. Any questions?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. NIU’s football team suffered more than just a loss last weekend. The Huskies suffered injuries and a lot of them. The list on the injury update is long and elite.

For starters, senior quarterback Rob Rugai is questionable for Saturday’s game against Southern Mississippi, which means that junior college transfer Scott Crabtree will be waiting in the wings for the start. Rugai suffered a sprained knee in last Saturday’s 21-13 loss to Middle Tennessee State. If Rugai isn’t ready by Saturday, NIU head coach Charlie Sadler is confident about Crabtree taking the snaps.

“He’s a very capable replacement for Rob,” said Sadler.

Crabtree has seen limited action this year and is anxious to get on the playing field. In two games this season, he’s completed one-of-five passes for five yards.

Also banged up on the offensive side are senior offensive tackle Brad Capes, senior offensive guard Dagan Lutjen, freshman offensive tackle Derek Sholdice, junior tight end Raymond Roberts and senior tight end Cory Blake.

Capes is probable with a left ankle contusion. Lutjen is also probable with a left ankle sprain. Sholdice is questionable with a neck strain. Roberts is probable with a back contusion. Blake, who seemed to have suffered the worst of all, will be out a minimum of six weeks after suffering a second degree ligament sprain in his left knee. He will undergo a further examination.

The NIU defense isn’t without its share of injuries. Included are freshman inside linebacker Scott Carlson and senior inside linebacker Tony Smith. Carlson is questionable with a back strain, while Smith is probable with a right ankle sprain.

There are eight injuries in all, which won’t help Sadler any in his run to move his 2-3 ballclub back to the .500 mark. The Golden Eagles, who have been to two bowls since 1987, will be enough work without missing a few key players.