Seniors to get the nod in final home game (Football Notebook)

Tania Ganguli

With the last home game of the season nearing, 10 seniors on the Northwestern football team are preparing for their last home stand at Ryan Field.

Coach Randy Walker doesn’t want to get too hung up on the game, but he does plan to start all his seniors on Saturday.

“I tell them ‘You take one look,'” Walker said. “‘Because you won’t look out there again.'”

Safeties Louis Ayeni and Torri Stuckey, tight end Ray Bogenrief, linebackers Pat Durr, Doug Szymul and Ryan Peterson, fullback Gilles Lezi, wide receivers Roger Jordan and Kunle Patrick, and running back Jason Wright will be honored before kickoff.

Although Walker tones down the significance of the last home game, it’s not as easy for seniors like Stuckey.

“I wish I had another year because I really feel like this team is building something special,” Stuckey said. “I just want to go out with a bang and there’s no better way than to knock Michigan off.”

A CASE OF THE DROPSIES: Contrary to Walker’s theory that the team with the fewest turnovers wins the game, the Wildcats had three turnovers to Penn State’s one in last weekend’s win over the Nittany Lions. Walker said the incident “defies all odds.”

Against Wisconsin, the Cats forced two turnovers without committing any. Walker pointed to that game as proof of how important the turnover ratio is.

Before Purdue the Cats had only two turnovers, none by their backfield. The Cats lost four fumbles against Purdue, two by running backs. Saturday’s turnovers included fumbles by backs Jason Wright and Noah Herron and an interception by quarterback Brett Basanez, his 10th of the year.

“I think (offensive coordinator) Mike Dunbar says it best,” Walker said. “He says, ‘Guys, you need to look at your feet, you’ve shot off all your toes.'”

INCHES TO GO: Sophomore defensive end Loren Howard was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Penn State which included a career-high four tackles for loss … Walker isn’t sure if Ayeni would play on Saturday but said the safety’s injured shoulder “doesn’t look good.” … Wright didn’t fully practice today and hasn’t since his injury four weeks ago. Walker said they are just letting Wright rest and expects him to play against Michigan.