Practice lasted less than an hour Friday at Cal State Northridge as the Matadors made final preparations for their opener today against Western Oregon at North Campus Stadium.
The Matadors concentrated on special teams and substitutions, particularly in the secondary, which remains below full strength.
The team received good news with the progress of free safety Hassan Abdul-Malik, who has been hobbled by a sore hamstring. A week ago, Abdul-Malik, a backup last year, was considered doubtful for the opener.
After practicing all week, Abdul-Malik convinced defensive coordinator Foster Andersen that he was ready.
“We’ve tested it pretty hard,” Andersen said. “We’re going to go ahead with him.”
Cornerback Mel Miller will miss today’s game while continuing to wait for academic clearance. Miller, a transfer from Washington State, is expected to start against Kansas. Strong safety Steve Forte moves to cornerback to replace Miller and Rahman Sparks starts at strong safety.
Eight of nine Big Sky members play their openers at home.
On Thursday, Weber State defeated Western State (Colo.), 33-3, in Ogden, Utah, while Eastern Washington was defeated by Idaho, 48-21, at Spokane, Wash.
In addition to Northridge, five other Big Sky teams begin their season today. The schedule has St. Mary’s at Cal State Sacramento, Eastern Oregon at Idaho State, South Dakota at Montana, Chadron State at Montana State and Portland State at Fresno State.
Northern Arizona opens Thursday against visiting Cal Poly.
Fox Sports Net Northwest and Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain will televise five Big Sky football games this season. None of the games involve Northridge and none will be available on local cable.
The network televised the Idaho-Eastern Washington game on Thursday.
The other games are Sept. 16, Eastern Washington at Portland State; Oct. 16, Montana State at Portland State; Oct. 23, Eastern Washington at Montana; Nov. 20, Montana at Montana State.
Stephanie Martin, a former member of the U.S. and Australian LPGA tours, was hired as the Matadors women’s golf coach, replacing Carrie Leary.
Martin, 27, was a two-time All-American for Oklahoma State. She graduated from Rio Mesa High in 1989. . . . Women’s basketball Coach Frozena Jerro hired Michelle Cherry and Greg Adams as assistants. Cherry, a former assistant with the Long Beach Stingrays, and Jerro were teammates at Arizona State. Adams coached last season at Saugus High.