NU still searching for kicking game (Football)

Tania Ganguli

When redshirt freshman kicker Slade Larscheid sent the football sailing through the goalposts during a drill in practice, his team erupted in a celebration worthy of a win over Ohio State.

But their enthusiasm was well directed.

Against Duke, Northwestern head coach Randy Walker avoided kicking field goals because of an apparent lack of confidence in his kicker. Larscheid has only attempted two field goals this season and has missed both — one from 20 yards against Kansas and another from 39 yards against Miami (Ohio). Larscheid has also been struggling in practice.

Until playing at the collegiate level, Larscheid had no trouble earning his coach’s confidence.

At Spearfish High School in Spearfish, S.D., Larscheid was eight of nine in field goal attempts which averaged 41.9 yards.

But if his performances in practice this week are any indication, Larscheid appears to be turning things around.

“He had a great day, ” Walker said on Tuesday. “I don’t think he was even a foot off center today.”

Larscheid is currently 13 for 13 on extra point attempts for the season.

Roger Dodger: It’s only taken four games for senior wide receiver Roger Jordan to rack up more receiving yards than he did all of last season. In 2002 he had 23 catches for 207 yards all year, but in the non-conference games this season he has caught 15 passes for 237 yards.

His six-foot-three frame and ability to get open have made him a ready target for NU quarterback Brett Basanez.

“I don’t pick favorites, I just throw to the open guy,” Basanez said. “He’s done a great job of being open.”

Against Duke, Jordan had three catches for a team high 52 yards, including a thirty-yard, over-the-shoulder catch on a third-and-two in the first quarter.

Injuries kept Jordan out of several games during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In 2001 Jordan suffered a stress fracture in his right femur which caused him to miss the season’s final five games. Last season as a reserve, he missed a game against Michigan State due to a strained oblique.

Down for the count: Injuries have prevented NU from playing with the strong five defensive backs they usually prefer, but both senior captain Louis Ayeni and sophomore cornerback Marquice Cole have been practicing for the Cats after missing game action.

Walker was optimistic about Cole’s progression and said that he would be ready to play against Ohio State. He was more tentative when speaking about Ayeni, and stopped short of clearing him for the upcoming game.

Ayeni has not played since the season opener against Kansas because of a stinger in his neck and shoulder region. Cole suffered a deep bruise in his lower right back against Miami two weeks ago. Walker said Cole “did everything” in practice and was fully back into it.

Dealing with injuries is nothing new for Ayeni. He sat out the first six games in 2000 with an injured pelvic bone. He then broke his ankle in the 2000 Alamo Bowl, and was out for all of the 2001 season.