Sadler has high hopes as spring football starts

By Wes Swietek

In the immortal words of Hank Williams Jr., “Are you ready for some football?”

If you are, you don’t have to wait for Monday night.

The NIU Huskies start their spring football practices Saturday. Spring practice will culminate in the annual intrasquad game April 25 at Huskie Stadium.

The start of spring practice has been eagerly anticipated by head coach Charlie Sadler and his Huskies who want to make up for last year’s 2-9 campaign.

Part of the problem for last year’s squad was getting used to a new system under a new coach—a problem that Sadler feels is over.

“This year is so much different than last year because there were so many unknowns,” Sadler said. “Spring training really didn’t give us enough time to do the things we wanted to accomplish.

“We know our players now and they know us. Last year, everything was a new format. (Installing) the new system had a tremendous impact—that was one of the areas that caused us to be not as good as Northern has been in the past.

“The new systems, the injuries and the lack of experience were all (negative) factors.”

Besides knowing offensive and defensive schemes better, Sadler predicts his 1992 squad will be noticeably different in other ways as well.

Sadler recently said the Huskies, traditionally an option team, will throw the ball 30 times a game next year.

“From a defensive standpoint, realistically there won’t be as much changing of schemes as working on techniques,” Sadler said. “Offensively, we will be making changes. We’ll still run option plays, but it won’t be the basis of our offense.”

The most visible change on offense will be in the quarterback position. Last year’s primary QB, Stacey McKinney, is being switched to wide receiver, leaving last year’s backup, Rob Rugai, with the No. 1 slot this spring, Sadler said.

As the Huskies prepare for next season and the season-opener Sept. 5 at Illinois, the scheme changes. The extra year of experience and the influx of talented recruits has Sadler predicting better results.

“We’re a bigger, stronger football team now,” Sadler said. “We’re a much better-looking football team than a year ago.”