Official Store

    Football Gears Up For Duke

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Sam Simmons is looking for another big day vs. Duke
    Sam Simmons is looking for another big day vs. Duke

    Sept. 7, 2000

    Game 2 * vs. Duke University
    DATE/TIME: Sept. 9, 2000/12:00 noon CT
    SITE: Ryan Field (47,130)
    TV: None
    RADIO: WGN (720 AM)

    Northwestern enters Saturday's game with Duke off a rousing, 35-17 win over Northern Illinois last Thursday night under the lights at Ryan Field. The win showcased the Wildcats' revamped offense, as they ran for 236 yards but also completed passes to 10 different players. In all, the Wildcats totaled 412 yards on offense.
    The night had several firsts. Tight end Eric Worley and wide receiver Ronnie Foster made the most of their first collegiate receptions, as they both went for touchdowns. Tailback Kevin Lawrence also scored his first collegiate touchdown, and made the most of his opportunity in the second half when head coach Randy Walker held starter Damien Anderson out of the lineup for precautionary measures. Lawrence finished the night with 81 yards on 16 carries. True freshman Torri Stuckey was also allowed to display his promise and had 28 yards on six carries.
    Zak Kustok proved the new offense fits his style very well. The junior QB completed 16 of 27 passes -- tying a career high -- for 176 yards and a pair of TDs. He also ran for 53 yards on nine carries (those numbers were offset by three sacks for a loss of 20 yards). His primary target was true sophomore Jon Schweighardt, who tied a career-high with five receptions, and true freshman Roger Jordan who had three catches. Eight other players caught one ball apiece.
    Defensively, Northwestern came up with two big plays to shut Northern Illinois down late. On a fourth-down play at the 3-yard line, Billy Silva laid a ferocious hit to force a fumble that was recovered by Kevin Bentley (NU proceeded to go 91 yards for a TD), and on the next NIU possession Harold Blackmon came up with a interception in the end zone to thwart another drive. Later in the game, Silva had another Wildcat interception.

    RECORD: Duke leads, 7-3
    MOST RECENT MEETING: Sept. 18, 1999 (Northwestern 15-12 in OT)
    FIRST MEETING: Sept. 7, 1985 (Duke 40-17)
    LAST NU WIN IN EVANSTON: Sept. 13, 1997 (24-20)
    LAST DUKE WIN IN EVANSTON: Sept. 12, 1998 (44-10)

    Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and with Thursday night's win has guided the Wildcats to a 4-8 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 63-43-5 in his 11th year as a head coach. Walker came to Evanston with an impressive coaching resume already intact. The 46-year-old Walker, who had coached Miami (Ohio) University for nine seasons, departed Oxford as the winningest head coach in school history. His mark at Miami of 59-35-5 (.621) is even more impressive when you consider the coaching greats which Miami had produced: Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler...and the list goes on. Walker graduated from Miami in 1976 with a B.A. in social studies education and earned a master's degree in educational administration from his alma mater in 1981. He starred for MU as a fullback, leading them to three-straight Tangerine Bowl victories. Upon graduation, Walker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, but returned to Miami to help as a graduate assistant and the next year became a full-time assistant in charge of running backs under Dick Crum. When Coach Crum departed for North Carolina, Walker joined him and spent the next 10 seasons as a Tar Heel. He coached various positions, ending up as the offensive coordinator. From there, he spent two seasons as Northwestern's running backs coach (1988-89) and, in 1990, took over as the head coach at Miami.

    TOUGH SCHEDULE AGAIN IN 2000 Northwestern is getting ready to head into the teeth of its schedule. The Wildcats will face eight teams that had winning records in 1999, including seven who played in postseason bowl games. Only South Carolina (9) and Notre Dame (8) faced more bowl-bound teams than Northwestern in 1999. Sports Illustrated has Northwestern's schedule ranked as the seventh toughest in the nation, while the Associated Press ranks six teams on NU's schedule in the top 25.

    Five Wildcat players were accorded All-Big Ten honors in 1999, four of whom return for 2000. Defensive end Dwayne Missouri was second-team selection by both the coaches and media. Running back Damien Anderson and linebacker Kevin Bentley both earned second-team accolades from the media and honorable mention status from the league's coaches. Cornerback Harold Blackmon was a consensus honorable mention pick. The only departure is Jay Tant, who was named honorable mention tight end by both groups.

    Austin King, who started nine contests in 1999 as a true freshman, snagged second-team All-American honors by Football News. He will anchor a seasoned offensive line this season.

    Injuries plagued the Wildcat wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks the entire 1999 season. The corps became so depleted that many times a walk-on or third or fourth string player lined up for NU. At wide receiver, Sam Simmons (fractured clavicle) and Jon Schweighardt (fractured elbow) were both lost for the season in the Iowa game. Teddy Johnson, who had a stress fracture in his shin and missed the first two games, played with a viral infection in the Wisconsin game and saw action in only two quarters, then suffered a concussion in the second quarter at Michigan and subsequently missed the Michigan State game. Rob Johnson fractured his left wrist in the Minnesota contest and missed the next four games. Derrick Thompson fractured his rib in the Minnesota contest, but continued to play the remainder of the season. At tight end, John Cerasani played with a chronic ankle sprain for six weeks, Corbett Elsen had a nerve root irritation and missed four games, and Jay Tant played with a hamstring strain all season and suffered a concussion versus Indiana. At fullback, Ian Miller suffered a concussion in the TCU game and missed the next three games. At Michigan, Miller again suffered a concussion, and missed the remainder of the season.

    Damien Anderson ranks eighth among NCAA Division I-A returning rushing leaders entering 2000. He averaged 102.5 yards per game in 1999. The leading returning rusher is Ladainian Tomlinson of TCU, whom NU plays in Fort Worth on Sept. 16.
    1. Tomlinson, TCU - 268 for 1,850 yards (168.18 avg.)
    2. Jordon, Maryland - 266 for 1,632 yards (148.36)
    3. Simonton, Oregon St. - 276 for 1,329 yards (120.82)
    4. Thomas, Michigan - 283 for 1,257 yards (114.27)
    5. Cobourne, West Virginia - 224 for 1,139 yards (113.90)
    6. Taylor, Toledo - 182 for 1,176 yards (106.91)
    7. Mitchell, Texas - 255 for 1,346 yards (103.54)
    8. Anderson, NU - 306 for 1,128 yards (102.55)

    Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern's two deep in 1999, an amazing 35 return in 2000?

    The 2000 edition of Northwestern football figures to remain largely intact when the 2001 season rolls around. Only nine players (5 defense, 3 offense, 1 special teams) on the current roster of 86 are slated to depart Evanston at the end of the season. They are: Harold Blackmon (CB), Javair Collins (DL), Conrad Emmerich (DL), Jack Harnedy (OL), Teddy Johnson (WR), Tim Long (PK), Dwayne Missouri (DL), Rashad Morton (FS), Derrick Thompson (WR).

    Northwestern holds the distinction of being the only school in the Big Ten during the last five seasons to have three different running backs rush for 1,000 yards. In 1995 and 1996, Darnell Autry rushed for 1,785 and 1,452 yards, respectively, while in 1997, Adrian Autry amassed 1,049 yards on the ground. This past season, Damien Anderson accumulated 1,128 rushing yards. In that same span, only one other Big Ten school has had four seasons with a player rushing for 1,000 yards -- Ron Dayne of Wisconsin did it each of the last four years.

    Damien Anderson rushed for a career-high 1,128 yards in 1999 and, in doing so, became the fourth Wildcat running back in the last five years to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry broke the barrier in 1997. In all, the redshirt sophomore became the seventh Wildcat to gain entrance into the elite club. Anderson ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 25th in the country with a 102.5 yards per game average. In addition, he finished fifth in the conference and 44th nationally in all-purpose yards at 119.3 per game. The media tabbed Anderson second-team All-Big Ten, while the coaches chose him as an honorable mention running back. In the Iowa win, Anderson set career highs for rushing yards (162) and rushing attempts (42). He ran for more than 100 yards in a game five times in 1999 (Miami/129, Purdue/150, Iowa/162, Wisconsin/102 and Illinois/123). Anderson came close on two other occasions (TCU/98 and Indiana/91). After gaining 537 yards in 1998, his career rushing mark of 1,753 yards already ranks seventh on NU's all-time list, while his 1,128 yards in 1999 ranks fifth-best on the Wildcat all-time single season chart. If Anderson, who has two years of eligibility remaining, rushes for 1,000 yards in 2000, he would move into second on Northwestern's all-time rushing list.

    Northwestern entered the 2000 season with the belief that their linebacker corps was among the top in the Big Ten, and Thursday night's performance did nothing to dissuade the argument. They accounted for two of NIU's three turnovers -- Billy Silva forced a fumble on deep in NU territory that was recovered by Kevin Bentley, and later in the game Silva added an interception. In addition, they had four tackles for loss (Silva 3, Harris 1), totaled 23 tackles (Harris 10, Silva 7, Bentley 6), and broke up two passes (Bentley, Silva).

    Unofficially, Kevin Bentley ranked fifth in tackles in Division I-A in 1999. His 148 stops were behind Keith Adams of Clemson (176), Jeff Ulbrich of Hawaii (169), Brian Urlacher of New Mexico (154) and Donald McCall of Eastern Michigan (154). Bentley's tackle total led the Big Ten, as did his per-game average (13.5). For his efforts, the media voted him to the All-Big Ten second team, while the coaches gave him honorable mention status. Making tackles was not all that Bentley did. He intercepted a Drew Brees pass for a 40-yard touchdown, collected another INT versus Iowa (which eventually led to a TD) and forced a fumble from Ron Dayne which led to a field goal. Bentley had three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, 10 TFLs and two fumble recoveries. His best game of the season came against Indiana when he registered a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo efforts.

    Linebacker Napoleon Harris and free safety Rashad Morton also went over the century mark in tackles last season. "Napo" tallied 110 total tackles, while Morton registered 103. Harris was third in the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game (11.0) and sixth in total tackles. Morton finished tied for eighth in total tackles.

    Defensive end Dwayne Missouri had a tackle for loss Thursday against Northern Illinois. That gives him 30 for his career, which puts him alone in fifth place on Northwestern's all-time list. Last year, Missouri had 20 TFLs, the second-best mark in school history. If Missouri duplicates his 1999 TFL tally, he would finish second on NU's all-time TFL chart behind Casey Dailey, who racked up 53 from 1994-97. Missouri was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and the media .

    Northwestern had six pass breakups Thursday night against Northern Illinois, continuing a tradition that began a year ago. In 1999, Northwestern shattered the team record for pass breakups in a season. The Wildcats amassed 60 total PBUs, 16 more than the old record of 44 which was set in 1996.

    After assaulting the pass breakup portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999, senior Harold Blackmon picked up where he left off Thursday night. He had another PBU, giving him 27 for his career which is already the school's all-time record. Last year, Blackmon had 17 PBUs, breaking the single-season record of 13 set by Rodney Ray in 1994. Blackmon finished in a tie for second place in the conference in PBUs, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the media and coaches. Blackmon has one year of eligibility remaining. Teammate Shegun Cummings-John also had a banner year in the PBU department in 1999. He had 14, which was sixth in the Big Ten. Cummings-John, who had one PBU in 1998, has two years of eligibility remaining.

    Northwestern was one of 27 schools to receive honorable mention status from the American Football Coaches Association for having a graduation rate of 70 percent or better. The Wildcats' graduation rate was 91 percent for its 1994-95 freshman class. Syracuse University won the Academic Achievement Award with a graduation rate of 100 percent. Northwestern won the prestigious award in 1998 with a 100 percent graduating percentage.

    Northwestern has 23 players on its 2000 roster from the Chicagoland area. They are: Dan Pohlman (Barrington), Harold Blackmon, Jack Harnedy, J.J. Standring (Chicago), Tom Fluegge (Crystal Lake), Doug Szymul (Des Plaines), Napoleon Harris (Dixmoor), Teddy Johnson (Elgin), Derrick Thompson (Harvey), Bob Barz (Lisle), Pete Konopka (Marengo), Don Baskin, Brian Dugal, Ben Kennedy (Naperville), Zak Kustok, Jeff Roehl (Orland Park), Steve Natali (Park Ridge), Torri Stuckey (Robbins), Pat Durr, Gabe Nyenhuis (St. Charles), Brian Huffman (Schaumburg), Matt Ulrich (Streamwood) and Jon Schweighardt (Wheaton).

    Northwestern was one of only three schools to win back-to-back Big Ten Championships in the 1990s. Michigan and Wisconsin were the other member institutions to do so. In addition, Northwestern, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were the only teams to win Big Ten championships outright and only NU, Michigan and Penn State earned rings with perfect 8-0 slates.

    Northwestern plays at TCU next Saturday, Sept. 16, in Fort Worth, Texas. Kickoff for that game is set for 11 a.m. Central and it will be shown on Fox Sports Net. This will be the first of three straight road games against ranked teams for the Wildcats.