Oct. 27, 1999
NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL (3-4, 1-3) vs. No. 11 Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1)
Date/Time: Oct. 30, 1999/11:00 a.m.
Site/Capacity: Ryan Field (47,130)
Television: ESPN Regional
Radio: WGN (720 AM)
Game Sponsor: United Airlines
After a week’s rest, the Wildcats entertain the Wisconsin Badgers this Saturday at Ryan Field. Northwestern is coming off its first Big Ten win of the season, a 23-21 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Oct. 16. The Badgers have scored 99 points in their last two contests with a 59-0 pasting of Indiana and an impressive 40-10 win over Michigan State.
Saturday’s matchup between Northwestern and Wisconsin marks the 87th meeting between the two teams. The two teams have split the last four meetings.
THE WISCONSIN SERIES
Series Record: 52-29-5, Wisconsin leads
First Meeting: 1890, Northwestern won, 22-10
Last UW win at NU: 1997, 26-25
Last NU win at NU: 1995, 35-0
Current Series Streak: Wisconsin, two games
HEAD COACH RANDY WALKER
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999 with an impressive coaching resume. The 45-year-old Walker, who had coached Miami 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.
Following the Iowa game, 14 players earned Championship Performance recognition from the NU coaching staff. They were Kevin Bentley, Javiar Collins, Napoleon Harris, Brian Hemmerle, Mycal Jones, Zak Kustok, Tim Long, Brian Marshall, Rashad Morton, Mark Perry, Kyle Sanders, Billy Silva, Mike Souza and Jay Tant. Each player earned an N-Cat decal that will be placed on his helmet.
The offensive player of the game was Zak Kustok, the defensive player of the game was Javiar Collins and the special teams player of the game was Tim Long. The Defensive Big Playmaker was Kevin Bentley, while the Offensive Big Playmaker was awarded to the Offense for its season-high 121 knockdowns.
The Offensive Scout of the Week was Chris Brown and the Defensive Scout of the Week was Onaje Grimes. These two players also receive N-Cat helmet decals.
NOTES FOLLOWING THE IOWA GAME
• Northwestern gained its first Big Ten win since the last game of the 1997 season, that win also came against Iowa (16-15).
• The win came on the final offensive play of the game, as QB Zak Kustok ran it in from two yards out with just four seconds remaining in regulation. Iowa’s kickoff return — which was penalized when one of the Hawkeye laterals went forward illegally — ended the contest.
• Kustok made his second career start at QB and had a career-high 16 completions for 146 yards.
• RB Damien Anderson set his career-high bar higher again, rushing for 162 yards on 42 carries. He had 104 yards at the half.
• Freshman WR Jon Schweighardt had his best day in a Wildcat uniform, catching five passes for 44 yards. That nearly matches his reception total in NU’s first six games (6). Unfortunately, he broke his elbow in the game and will miss at least the next three contests.
• WR Teddy Johnson also had five receptions, for 61 yards. He also scored his third TD of the season.
• WR Derrick Thompson entered Saturday’s contest with three catches this season, but doubled it with three more against the Hawkeyes.
• PK Tim Long matched his career high with three field goals Saturday. For his efforts, he was named the Big Ten’s Special Team’s Player of the Week. Long also had three FG’s at Duke earlier this year.
• Punter J.J. Standring completed a 23-yard pass to WR Aaron Burrell on a fake punt in the second quarter. It marked the second completion in Standring’s career.
• LB Kevin Bentley came up with his second interception of the year. However, for the first time this season Northwestern was unable to run the INT back for a touchdown.
• Northwestern punted just six times on Saturday vs. Iowa, a season low.
• Dwayne Missouri had two TFLs and now has a total of 15 for the season. In addition, he extended his TFL game streak to 12 contests. He has 24 career TFLs and had only seven in 1998.
IOWA GAME RECAP
Northwestern’s overpowering first half, combined with a career day from junior running back Damien Anderson, were just enough to push Northwestern to a 23-21 last-second victory over Iowa on Homecoming Day at Ryan Field.
Without a single gain longer than 10 yards, Anderson motored for a career-high 169 yards on 42 carries. In the end, though, it was junior quarterback Zak Kustok — making only his second collegiate start — who led the Wildcats to victory in the game’s final minutes.
Down, 21-16, with 2:47 left to play, Kustok completed five passes to take the ’Cats 59 yards for the game-winning score. He capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run on fourth down that won the game with four seconds to play.
The Wildcats scored 16 points in the first half, possessing the ball more than 22 minutes and holding the Hawkeyes to just four first downs. Anderson racked up 104 of the team’s 130 rushing yards for the half.
The only thing the Wildcats could not do well was execute deep in Iowa territory. Northwestern drove the ball inside the Iowa 12 three times early in the game, only to settle for a field goal each time. However, with 1:57 left in the second, the Wildcats eliminated the problem when Kustok found junior wide receiver Teddy Johnson on a 21-yard strike for a 16-0 halftime lead.
Iowa got back into the game with two quick third-quarter strikes after a Northwestern fumbled punt. Then, with 11:13 left in the fourth, running back Ladell Betts gave the Hawkeyes their first lead with a 74-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career. After four punts and very little movement offensively by the Wildcats in the second half, Kustok was able to rally his troops for the game-winning drive.
Northwestern finished the day with 349 yards of total offense, including 180 on the ground. The ’Cats led 21-12 in first downs, and dominated with nearly 38 minutes of possession. Sophomore linebacker Kevin Bentley led the team on defense with 11 tackles and also came up with his second interception of the year.
Northwestern went for it on fourth down five times versus Iowa, and converted four of them -- its best effort of the season.
Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern’s two deep, only six are graduating seniors? They are wide receiver Aaron Burrell, tight end John Cerasani, guard Brian Hemmerle, free safety Kyle Sanders, tight end Jay Tant and defensive end Gladston Taylor. Tant is currently the lone starter of the five.
YOUTE MOVEMENT II
Six true freshmen have seen playing time in each of the Wildcats’ contests this season. Austin King has started in the last five contests at center, while running back Louis Ayeni has 13 rushes for 46 yards and 15 kickoff returns for 241 yards (16.1 ypr). Wide receiver Jon Schweighardt, who started in the last two contests before being sidelined with an elbow injury , has tallied 11 receptions for 134 yards overall and has returned eight punts for 20 yards. Linebackers Vince Cartaya, Pat Durr and Regis Eller have notched two, four and two tackles, respectively.
Northwestern’s two-deep is loaded with players from the Chicagoland area. On offense: Tight end John Cerasani (Schaumburg/Schaumburg), wide receiver Teddy Johnson (Elgin/Larkin), wide receiver Jon Schweighardt (Wheaton/Wheaton-Warrenville South), fullback Mike Sherry (Griffith, Ind./Griffith), wide receiver Derrick Thompson (Harvey/Thornton Township) and offensive lineman Jon Walters (Naperville/Central). On defense: D-Back Harold Blackmon (Chicago/Leo), linebacker Pat Durr (St. Charles/St. Charles), defensive tackle Jeff Dyra (Chicago/St. Patrick), and defensive end Pete Konopka (Marengo/Marion). On special teams: Long snapper Jack Harnedy (Chicago/Mt. Carmel) and punter J.J. Standring (Chicago/St. Rita).
With four games left to play, Damien Anderson has already had a career-best season in rushing yards. After gaining 537 yards in 1998, the redshirt junior running back has already amassed 751 yards in 1999. He is currently ranked third in the conference and 19th in the country with a 107.3 yards per game average. Two weeks ago versus Iowa, Anderson set career highs for rushing yards (162) and rushing attempts (42).
KEVIN BENTLEY -- THE BIG TEN'S LEADING TACKLER
Sophomore linebacker Kevin Bentley has picked up where Barry Gardner left off last year. He is one of the nation’s top tacklers. In seven games, he has registered 89 total tackles (tops in the Big Ten), 57 (first in the conference) of which are solo efforts. In addition, he has one pass interception for a 40-yard touchdown to his credit as well as another INT which eventually led to a TD. Bentley has three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, five TFLs and two fumble recoveries. Against Indiana, he had a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo.
Redshirt senior Dwayne Missouri has become a force in the Big Ten from his defensive end position. Since the Ohio State game in 1998, Missouri has recorded a tackle for loss in 12-straight contests. In seven games this season, Missouri leads the ‘Cats in sacks (five for 39 yards) and tackles for loss (15 for 67 yards). In contrast, last year Thor Schmidt led NU in both categories. He only had six sacks and 12 TFLs in the entire 12-game season.
A WHOLE LOT OF PBUs
Redshirt sophomore Shegun Cummings-John has 13 PBUs to his credit this year and needs just one more to break the single-season record set by Rodney Ray in 1994. Cummings-John had just one PBU last year. Senior Harold Blackmon has nine PBUs this season and 18 for his career. This is just five shy of Ray’s career mark of 23 PBUs. Blackmon is currently fourth all-time in that category.
BAD BREAK FOR WIDE RECEIVERS
Northwestern lost two of its best wide receivers and punt returners in the same game. At home versus Iowa on October 16, Sam Simmons broke his clavicle and is out for the remainder of the season. Jon Schweighardt fractured his left elbow and will miss at least the next three contests. The good news is that Simmons is only a sophomore and Schweighardt is just a freshman.
In six games this season, Simmons returned 11 punts for an average of 15.4 ypr (including an 87-yard score), five kickoffs for an average of 26.2 ypr, 12 receptions for a 21.8 ypc average (including a 71-yard reception vs. TCU and a 27-yard TD catch in OT at Duke) and 12 rushes, averaging 9.3 yards per carry. Simmons was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his 87-yard punt return score in the TCU contest.
Schweighardt, who started in the last two contests, has tallied 11 receptions for 134 yards overall and has returned eight punts for 20 yards. He played the entire second half of the Iowa game not knowing he had broken his elbow. Amazingly, he caught four passes, including a crucial 18-yard reception during NU’s game-winning drive.
BEST CONDITIONED ATHLETES
Strength and conditioning are two topics that Coach Walker preaches the most. His top five best conditioned players are linebacker Kevin Bentley, defensive tackle Jeff Dyra, tight end Jay Tant and linebackers Salem Simon and Conrad Emmerich. The results were based on bench, squat, clean, 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, 300-yard shuttle and vertical leap.
TELEVISED GAMES IN 1999
Since 1995, 48 of NU's 53 contests have been televised. In 1998, all 12 of NU’s games were shown on television. Thus far this season, the TCU (ESPN Regional), Duke (Jefferson Pilot) Purdue (ESPN2), Minnesota (MSC), Iowa (ESPN Regional) and Wisconsin (ESPN Regional) games have been selected for broadcast. Other games may be selected for broadcast 10 to 12 days prior to the contest. Since NU football was first televised on October 27, 1951 — when the 'Cats entertained Wisconsin in Evanston — the Wildcats have been featured on 99 occasions.
OUT FOR THE SEASON
In addition to Simmons, four other players are done for the 1999 campaign.
• Jeff Dyra, a senior defensive tackle, broke his left foot during the Indiana contest and will miss the remainder of the 1999 season. The fifth-year senior was diagnosed with a slight stress fracture in the foot prior to the Duke contest, but was able to play effectively in the next three games.
• Ty Garner, a senior offensive lineman, suffered a torn ACL & MCL last year in practice. He took a medical noncounter and even though he has one year of eligibility remaining, his injuries preclude him from returning to football.
• Chris Jones, a sophomore linebacker, tore his ACL in the Miami game. He has already had surgery to repair the ligament damage.
• Scott Musso, a fifth-year senior defensive back, suffered a career-ending injury when he tore his achilles last year. He took a medical noncounter.
THE RANDY WALKER SHOW
Look for The Randy Walker Show Tue., Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Chicago. The show will be repeated at 1:30 a.m. on Wed., Nov. 3 and at 3 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 5. (Due to the bye week, there is no show this week.) Dave Eanet, the voice of Wildcat Football on WGN Radio, serves as the host.
The show will feature an “Ameritech Ask the Coach” segment. Fans can send in their questions to Coach Walker at nusports.com and if their question is read on the show, they’ll receive a Gift Pack, courtesy of Ameritech.
HARRY CARAY LUNCHEONS
Coach Walker, selected players and Wildcat fans meet at Harry Caray’s Restaurant the Friday before home football games. The festivities begin with a reception at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon starts at noon. Harry Caray’s is located at 33 West Kinzie in downtown Chicago. Members of the media are invited to cover the luncheon, however, if you wish to eat, please contact Jean Yale at 847-491-3694 to make a reservation. Tickets are $25 apiece.
The Wildcats take to the road, traveling to Ann Arbor for a matchup with the Michigan Wolverines. The 11:00 a.m. game will be produced by ESPN Regional.