Monday, April 9, 2007

With Bacher out, Cats look Kafka-esque

Junior quarterback C.J. Bacher has missed all eight practices this spring while recovering from offseason toe surgery. But he'll still be the No. 1 quarterback when NU faces Northeastern on Sept. 1.


Mike Kafka thinks otherwise.

"I mean, obviously my goal is to go and get the starting job," said the sophomore, who started NU's first four games last season, "and that’s what I’m going to try for every day."

Bacher's injury is giving him the chance. Though coach Pat Fitzgerald keeps saying there is no first team and no second team, Kafka has been playing with all the players who, well, are expected to take the first snap of this season's first game.

That included a "start" in NU's 60-play scrimmage Saturday, during which Kafka completed 10 of 17 passes for 97 yards and an interception, according to

All those reps are just what Kafka needs, Fitzgerald said.

"He can't get enough reps," Fitzgerald said. "He just really can't.

"Going into Mike's career, he's about a thousand reps behind -- only really playing one year of quarterback in high school. And the amount of reps he's getting right now, it couldn't be any better."

Fitzgerald said he was impressed with Kafka's demeanor Saturday -- the quarterback shrugged off his early interception -- but said he wants Kafka to make more plays, to "make some things happen."

"The one thing I don't want Mike to be is a robot," Fitzgerald said.

But Kafka also must learn to make plays with his arm.

Although he occasionally used his athleticism for big runs (he tallied 111 yards against Nevada) last season, he often settled for the carry instead of the pass. Many times, he appeared to make just one read down the field before tucking and running.

While the run has been used quite often by past NU quarterbacks (see: Zak Kustok and Brett Basanez), it's the prolific passing that made those two so special while in Evanston.

Also, the pass is what made NU's offense click under Bacher -- and what made Bacher, according to Fitzgerald, the likely No. 1 next season. Even if Kafka completes his metamorphosis.

  • Speaking of Bacher, the quarterback is expected to be active Tuesday, though Fitzgerald said Bacher likely would participate in about 20 percent of the Cats' drills. "I'm looking for him just to get back out there and get back in shape," Fitzgerald said. "He hasn't done anything since his surgery."

  • Junior running back Tyrell Sutton was held out of Saturday's scrimmage due to "some little injuries," but Fitzgerald shrugged it off. "I think I know everything I need to know about Tyrell Sutton," the coach said. "I need to know a lot more about Brandon Roberson and some other guys." Roberson, a senior, made some shifty runs and notched 52 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

  • Center Trevor Rees and backup offensive lineman Tyler Compton both left the scrimmage with leg injuries. Fitzgerald said Rees would be fine, but Compton's status is to be determined.

--Patrick Dorsey

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why no mention of freshman qb Mauro who was 11-12 for 120 yds and no int in Saturday's scrimmage?