Cal State Northridge
COACH: Tom Keele, 7th year, 26-36-1 LAST SEASON: Fourth in Western Football Conference (0-3 in WFC, 3-7 overall) PLAYERS TO WATCH: Chris Parker won a battle with Danny Fernandez and will start at quarterback. Problem: Beyond All-WFC tackle Ray Oergel, not one offensive lineman has experience at CSUN. Keele hopes that in trying to direct the run-and-shoot, Parker doesn’t have to run and hide from unblocked defenders. If Parker shoots blanks, the Matadors will run with tailback Mike Kane and wingbacks Eric Davis and Richard Brown. Kane, who missed all three WFC games with an injury, rushed for 675 yards in seven games last season. Watch for Davis and Brown, who Keele says are two of his best athletes, to run plenty of counters and reverses from the double-wing set. The run-and-shoot utilizes two split ends, and sophomores Nick Uruburu and Scott Colvin will start. Ken Garrett, Vince Chambers and Charles Collins also will see action at end. The Matadors return eight starters on defense, including All-WFC linemen Darrell McIntyre and Joe Barbosa. Reggie Wauls has been a pleasant surprise at middle linebacker, while Ray Johnson and Mike Pestana will start as outside linebackers. All-WFC cornerback Steve Benjamin anchors a strong secondary. Other defensive backs who will play considerably include cornerback Jon Bradshaw and safeties Ron Foster, Pat Cerruti and Simon Goss. All-America kicker Bryan Wagner graduated and will be replaced at punter by Parker and at kicker by Mike Doan. OUTLOOK: “We thought we had our best team ever last season, and we had a rough time,” Keele said. “This year we’ll go back to being the underdog. Maybe we’ll perform better that way.” With a new offense and a new quarterback, the Matadors insist they won’t be discouraged if they get off to a rocky start. “I’ll look for improvement each week,” Keele said.