Nov. 1, 1999
NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL (3-5, 1-4) at Michigan (6-2, 3-2)
DATE/TIME: Nov. 6, 1999/11:00 a.m. CT
SITE (capacity): Michigan Stadium (107,501)
TELEVISION: ESPN Regional
RADIO: WGN (720 AM)
The Wildcats take to the road for the first time in about a month when they travel to Ann Arbor. Northwestern is coming off a hard-fought 35-19 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Defensively, NU held the Badgers to less than 300 yards of total offense, well below its season average of 433.1. Offensively, the ‘Cats gained 21 first downs and 347 yards of total offense.
Northwestern and Michigan are meeting for the 62nd time. They have split the last four meetings, all of which have been decided in the fourth quarter. In 1995, NU scored at 12:24 to forge ahead for good and, in 1996, kicked the winning field goal with 17 seconds remaining. In 1997, UM scored with 9:47 remaining to open up its 13-6 lead and, in last year’s mud bowl on Ryan Field in Evanston, the Wolverines scored five points in the final quarter for a 12-6 win.
THE SERIES WITH MICHIGAN
Series Record: 46-13-2, Michigan leads
First Meeting: 1892, Northwestern won, 10-8
Last NU win at UM: 1995, 19-13
Last UM win at UM: 1997, 23-6
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 Wisconsin game, 10 players earned Championship Performance recognition from the NU coaching staff. They were Damien Anderson, Kevin Bentley, Harold Blackmon, Leon Brockmeier, Tim Long, Austin King, Rashad Morton, Mark Perry, 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 Damien Anderson, the defensive player of the game was Kevin Bentley and the special teams player of the game was Tim Long. The Defensive Big Playmaker was Shegun Cummngs-John, while the Offensive Big Playmaker was awarded to Leon Brockmeier.
The Offensive Scout of the Week was Chris Stiernagle and the Defensive Scout of the Week was Vince Cartaya. These two players also receive N-Cat helmet decals.
NOTES FOLLOWING THE WISCONSIN GAME
• Northwestern’s defense can consider its day against Heisman Trophy candidate Ron Dayne a success. The Wisconsin senior rushed a season-high 35 times for 162 yards, a 4.6 average. Only two other teams (Michigan, Minnesota) have held him to lower average yards-per-carry this season. In addition, the Wildcats forced Dayne to fumble once — prior to that, Dayne had averaged one fumble for every 136.5 carries over his career.
• Saturday’s 35-19 loss was not as distant as it looks on paper. In fact, Northwestern outgained Wisconsin in total yardage, 347-296 (271-184 after the first quarter), and had 21 first downs to the Badgers’ 17.
• RB Damien Anderson had his fourth 100-yard rushing game this season, with 102. As a redshirt sophomore, he already has 1,390 yards for his career which places him 10th on NU’s all-time rushing list.
• Anderson needs 147 yards to become Northwestern’s fourth 1,000-yard single-season rusher in five years. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry accomplished the feat in 1997.
• Kustok made his third career start at QB and had a career-high 17 completions for 144 yards.
• WR Derrick Thompson entered Saturday’s contest with six catches this season. He had seven catches against Wisconsin.
• Northwestern punted just six times on Saturday vs. Wisconsin, matching its season low set in the Iowa game.
• Dwayne Missouri had one TFL and now has a total of 16 (fourth on single-season chart) for the season. In addition, he extended his TFL game streak to 13 contests. He has 25 career TFLs (sixth all-time) and had only seven in 1998.
• Senior FB Ian Miller had his first two receptions of the season, including one that went for his first collegiate TD.
• WR J. Quentin Brown and RB Louis Ayeni had their first career receptions. Ayeni set career highs for rushes (7) and yards (25).
• PK Tim Long made good on a 22-yard field goal and has now connected on five straight field goals.
• LB Kevin Bentley had 16 tackles to move over the 100-tackle mark for the season. He now has 105, which leads the Big Ten.
• DB Shegun Cummings-John had his first collegiate interception.
WISCONSIN GAME RECAP
The difference between the Northwestern and No. 11 Wisconsin on Saturday was this: the Badgers made the most of their chances, while the Wildcats failed on just enough to give away a 35-19 game that was closer than it looks.
How misleading is the final? Consider that on the day NU actually outgained the Badgers, 347-296 (271-184 after the first quarter). The Wildcats also had 21 first downs to Wisconsin’s 17. However, several Northwestern drives throughout the day were snuffed out deep in Badger territory, including one critical play in the third quarter that swung the game the way of Wisconsin.
The Badgers looked every bit the juggernaut they’ve displayed in recent weeks during the first quarter, going 14 plays for 75 yards and a touchdown on their first drive of the day and then capitalizing on a poor ’Cat punt to score late in the stanza for a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, though, it was Northwestern that nearly scored. With just seconds left before halftime, the Wildcats drove to Wisconsin’s 6-yard line. On third down, though, NU’s Zak Kustok was picked off in the end zone by Mike Echols.
The third quarter got off to a promising start for Northwestern, when Heisman hopeful Ron Dayne was stripped of the ball deep in his own territory by Kevin Bentley. Though the Wildcats got three points on a Tim Long field goal, they missed out on a sure touchdown when a wide-open Ian Miller stumbled and fell while catching an underthrown Kustok pass at the 7-yard line.
The stinger came late in the third. Northwestern again drove deep into Badger territory, but on a slant pattern Kustok missed Teddy Johnson at the Wisconsin 7-yard line. UW’s Jamar Fletcher caught the ball instead, and 93 yards later he high-stepped into the NU end zone for a Badger touchdown. Northwestern refused to die, scoring twice in the fourth quarter and adding two-point conversions both times.
Damien Anderson had another big day for Northwestern, gaining 102 yards on the ground, while Kustok completed 17-of-28 passes. Derrick Thompson was his primary target, catching a career-high seven passes.
• Prior to last Saturday’s game, Wisconsin had allowed just 19 fourth-quarter points. Northwestern scored 16 in the fourth quarter against the Badgers.
SO FEW DEPART
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 six.
Six true freshmen have seen playing time in each of the Wildcats’ contests this season. Austin King has started in the last six contests at center, while running back Louis Ayeni has 20 rushes for 73 yards and 15 kickoff returns for 241 yards (16.1 ypr). Wide receiver Jon Schweighardt, who started in two contests before being sidelined with an elbow injury against Iowa, had 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).
DAMIEN ANDERSON NEARS 1,000
With three 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 853 yards in 1999. He is currently ranked third in the conference and 18th in the country with a 106.6 yards per game average. Three weeks ago versus Iowa, Anderson set career highs for rushing yards (162) and rushing attempts (42). He has rushed for over 100 yards in a game four times this season. His career rushing mark of 1,390 yards already ranks 10th best on NU’s all-time list. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
BENTLEY AND HARRIS - 1 & 2 IN THE BIG TEN
Sophomore linebacker Kevin Bentley has picked up where Barry Gardner left off last year. He is one of the nation’s top tacklers. In eight games, he has registered 105 total tackles (tops in the Big Ten), 70 (also first in the conference) of which are solo efforts. In addition, he has intercepted a Drew Brees pass for a 40-yard touchdown to his credit, another INT which eventually led to a TD and a forced fumble of Ron Dayne which led to a field goal on his slate. Bentley has three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, seven TFLs and two fumble recoveries. Against Indiana, he had a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo.
Also of note is fellow redshirt sophomore linebacker Napoleon Harris. “Napo” is second in the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game (11.3). Bentley leads that category as well at 13.1. Overall, Harris had 79 total tackles. Both student-athletes have two years of eligibility remaining.
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 13-straight contests. In eight games this season, Missouri leads the ‘Cats in sacks (five for 39 yards) and tackles for loss (16 for 70 yards). By contrast, last year Thor Schmidt led NU in both categories with six sacks and 12 TFLs for the entire 12-game season. Missouri has one year of eligibility remaining.
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. Cummings-John has two years of eligibility remaining, while Blackmon has one.
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, 51 of NU's 56 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),(ESPN Regional), Wisconsin (ESPN Regional) and Michigan (ESPN Regional) games have been selected for broadcast. The remaining three 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 100 occasions.
OUT FOR THE SEASON
• 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.
• Jon Schweighardt, a freshman wide receiver, broke his left elbow in the Iowa game and will miss the remainder of the season. Amazingly, in that game, Schweighardt played the entire second half with the break, thinking he had only suffered a cut. He caught four second-half receptions including a crucial 18-yard catch on the winning drive of the game.
• Sam Simmons, a sophomore wide receiver, broke his clavicle in the Iowa game and will miss the remainder of the season.
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. 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 return home to take on the Michigan State Spartans. Game time has yet to be announced by the conference office due to television selections.