Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Basanez out, Strauss in (Football)

Quarterback Tony Stauss has spent the last six games warming up and throwing balls on the sideline. This week at Penn State, he won’t have to prepare to come off the bench.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore will start under center Saturday because Brett Basanez, the first-string quarterback for the past six games, sustained a broken fibula in Northwestern’s 45-42 loss to Minnesota Thursday night.

“Brett will play again, and there is a good chance he will probably play against Purdue in a week,” NU head coach Randy Walker said.

Basanez injured his left fibula diving into the endzone for a successful two-point conversion on NU’s final offensive play of the game. The team didn’t learn about the broken bone until an x-ray revealed it late the next day.

The break occurred in the smaller of the two bones that run from the ankle to the knee. Because it happened in the upper part of the fibula, the injury is less severe, Walker said.

“It’s not an extremely rare injury, and people play all the time with broken fibulas,” Walker said. “It’s common to play when the break is this high up because there’s really very little stress on it at all.

“So as soon as the pain is tolerable, he can play. There’s a chance he could be available for action this week, but we’re not counting on it.”

With Basanez sidelined, Stauss gets a second chance to start at quarterback for the Cats. In the season-opening 52-3 loss at Air Force, Stauss was 5-of-10 for 22 yards in only five series as the starer before being replaced by Basanez.

After that game, Walker named Basanez the team’s starting quarterback.

“In all honesty and truthfulness, Tony might not have got the best deal you ever got playing quarterback here, coming out of the blocks,” Walker said. “When we started out at Air Force, we struggled as an offense trying to find ourselves and our identity.”

NU’s struggles continued the second week. After Basanez and Stauss failed to move the offense, freshman Alexander Webb was given a chance to play before sustaining a season-ending liver laceration. Webb’s injury means Stauss will be backed up this week will be true freshman Derrell Jenkins, who Walker plans to play only if Stauss is injured.

The NU offense found its rhythm under the direction of Basanez, who ranks first nationally among freshman in passing yards-per-game with 202. Against Minnesota’s defense, the best in the Big Ten, the Wildcats gained 502 total yards and scored 42 points.

Since Basanez became the starter, the Cats have used a balanced attack featuring a multitude of receivers and running backs.

“I think we’re on a little bit of a positive roll as an offense,” Walker said. “Obviously, Tony now has some people around him who can take some of the pressure off him. I think it should add a certain calmness or certainty to his play that was difficult to do in the opening game.”

Stauss has seen action in relief of Basanez in losses to Texas Christian and Michigan State. Against the Horned Frogs, Stauss completed 8-of-12 passes for 50 yards. And versus the Spartans, he was 4 for 7, including a 48-yard touchdown pass.

Off the field, the quieter and more introverted Stauss has impressed Walker and his teammates.

“Sometimes I think people misconstrue the aura Tony projects,” said co-captain and offensive lineman Jeff Roehl. “His high level of focus and energy comes off sometimes looking a little high-wired or a little nervous. But he’s really not. He’s really one of the more confident people.”

Walker agreed with Roehl and said he has been pleased with how Stauss handled his early-season demotion.

“He’s not been Chuckles the Clown with what happened, but as far as dealing with adversity and a difficult situation, you couldn’t ask for a better response than Tony has given,” Walker said. “He’s stayed ready, worked hard at practice, and he’s always watching film.

“I’m excited for Tony, and I have confidence he will do a good job. We’re going to start Tony Stauss and play Tony Stauss the whole game.”

Roehl is optimistic about Stauss’ second-chance to start at quarterback.

“I’m excited about having him back there,” Roehl said, “and I think a lot of people will be surprised by his play this week.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Basanez out, Strauss in (Football)