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

The Daily Northwestern

75° Evanston, IL
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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Football: NU hopes Kafka’s injury not as serious as 2006’s

In a year full of injuries, the one source of stability for Northwestern was quarterback Mike Kafka. The senior gunslinger had played almost every meaningful snap of every game, accounting for more than 70 percent of the team’s total offense.

Last weekend that all changed.

On a quarterback draw in the middle of the second quarter, Kafka’s foot got caught in the grass and he fell to the ground, tweaking his left hamstring in the process. Kafka left the game after the next play and would not return.

According to coach Pat Fitzgerald, the decision not to play Kafka the rest of the game wasn’t up to him.

“Really, we look at it in terms of safety and health and well-being of the student-athlete – that’s our number one priority,” Fitzgerald said. “If he’s cleared by our doctors and inspected to be healthy and able to defend himself, then he’ll have an opportunity to play and help the team win. That’s where we put our focus for Mike or any of our guys that have been injured.”

Kafka is no stranger to hamstring injuries. As a redshirt freshman in 2006, Kafka injured his left hamstring in the second half of a contest against Nevada after starting the first four games of the season. He sat out for most of the year and didn’t start another game until NU’s matchup against Minnesota last season.

The Wildcats are hoping this injury won’t be as serious. Fitzgerald described Kafka as “day-to-day” and listed Kafka or Persa as the starting quarterback on the depth chart.

“My mindset’s going in that I’m going to play,” Kafka said. “Tomorrow I’m going to run around a little bit on it and see how it feels and kind of take it day by day. Wednesday I’ll do a little more to where on Saturday it feels pretty good.”

Still, if Kafka can’t play, Fitzgerald is confident that someone will step up.

“We have about 74 quarterbacks on the roster so we’ll find somebody to take a snap count if it comes to that,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t have to go there but one of those 74 guys would be in there. It won’t be me, I promise you that.”

TOO FEW TURNOVERS

Since forcing 10 turnovers in two weeks against Purdue and Miami, NU has been in a takeaway drought for its past two games.

“For whatever reason, the last two weeks we haven’t been able to get the ball,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve had the ball on the ground a couple times and haven’t been able to recover those fumbles. We had the ball in our hands a couple times and didn’t pick the ball off. You keep ripping and stripping, catch it and keep beating that drum.”

The Cats will try to end their dry spell this week at Iowa. Last week Indiana feasted on Hawkeye quarterback Ricky Stanzi, recording five interceptions.

“A couple of them were deep balls when they’re taking their shots downfield and Indiana’s player just makes a play,” Fitzgerald said. “There were a couple lay-out interceptions that were just great plays on the defense’s part.”

NEW FACE ON O-LINE

Last week the Cats welcomed a new addition to their offensive line, left guard Brian Mulroe. The redshirt freshman, who was cleared to play two weeks ago, looks to help a unit that ranks 94th in the country in allowing 2.67 sacks per game.

However, Mulroe and Co. will face another tough task this week as they look to contain one of the better defensive lines in the conference.

“They’re going to try to punch you right in the face,” sophomore left tackle Al Netter said. “We know it’s going to be a physical game, if not the most physical game of the year.”[email protected]

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Football: NU hopes Kafka’s injury not as serious as 2006’s