The slogan “A New Beginning” has been used to promote this year’s Cal State Northridge football team.
Redundant? You bet. But in talking to the coaches and players you get the feeling it might have been done on purpose.
CSUN was 4-7 last year and has had only five winning seasons in the past 16 years. It wants people to know there has been a change even if it takes two words of a three-word phrase.
The biggest change, of course, is at head coach. Bob Burt, the defensive coordinator at Cal State Fullerton for six seasons, was hired in January less than two months after the Matadors had tied for last in the Western Football Conference.
At his introductory press conference, the new coach left no doubt about his next change. Asked what offensive strategy he preferred, Burt said, “I’m not sure what we’ll end up running, but I do know it’s not going to be the run-and-shoot.”
The run-and-shoot offense, a complex passing attack, was instituted at the start of last season as former Coach Tom Keele desperately tried to improve the team’s 12 points-per-game scoring average of the previous year. It worked. Northridge averaged better than 25 points a game.
But the team won only one more game than it had the year before, and two weeks after the season was over Keele was fired.
After a couple of months of practice and grading his personnel on film, Burt has decided to run a pro-set offense. In other words, it’s back to basics for the Matadors.
That comes as bad news to quarterback Chris Parker and good news to tailback Mike Kane.
Parker, a senior, flourished in last year’s pass-happy attack, setting school records for passes attempted (424), passes completed (232) and total yards (2,773). Naturally, his statistics will suffer in Burt’s more balanced offensive scheme. A few more wins by the team would probably help ease the loss of those gaudy statistics, however.
Kane, a key element in Northridge’s offense as a freshman and sophomore, slumped to the lowest yardage total of his collegiate career last year, gaining 481 yards on only 93 carries. He should thrive again running from the tailback slot in Northridge’s I formation.
Joining Kane in the Matador backfield will be LeVelle Brown, a 6-2, 225-pound junior transfer from San Francisco City College whose greatest claim to fame is that he was a member of a South Korean all-star team. He played his high school football at a military base in Seoul.
Richard Brown and Lance Harper should also get their share of carries. Brown was CSUN’s most valuable back in 1985, gaining 372 yards and catching 47 passes for 486 yards in relief of Kane. Harper, a freshman from San Fernando High, was a Times All-Valley selection.
When Parker gets a chance to throw, he’ll be looking for wide receivers Chris Moore (41 catches for 321 yards a four touchdowns in 1985) and Byran Kellen, a converted free safety who transferred in from San Jose City College. The tight end is Brian Bowers, another a transfer from San Jose.
The offensive line--average size, 6-4, 260 pounds--is anchored by guard Brian Clark (6-1, 235) and tackle Carlos Rivera (6-5, 250) who were both starters last year. In Mike Doan the Matadors have the best place kicker in the WFC. He was 23 of 25 on PATs and 16 of 23 on field goal attempts last season.
On defense, the Matadors have all-conference nose tackle Darrell McIntyre (6-0, 240) and linebacker Reggie Wauls (6-2, 215), who had 126 tackles to lead the team.