Huskies hope change will do good By By Patrick McHugh, News Staff

see url A team that ended with a 2-10 record in 2008 might not be expected to have much to look forward to in 2009, but new coaches, players and a new approach might make the football team an exception. go site Head coach Rocky Hager has shuffled his coaching staff, implemented new offensive and defensive systems and put players in new positions to try to improve the team. This means there will be a very different look to the team come fall, including more inexperienced players, Hager said yesterday at media day at Parsons Field. Five starters return for offense, and for defense, although seven return, only four are expected to start the same position as last season. Hager said that although the lack of experience at some positions is not ideal, he is not worried moving forward. ‘Every year there’s going to be someone who has never taken a snap, so I’m not that concerned,’ Hager said. ‘That’s part of coaching.’ go here Offensively, Brian Surace, who spent the last five seasons as an offensive line coach for the team, will take over as the offensive coordinator. Surace said he will implement a spread offensive attack designed to force the defense to cover the entire width of the field, giving skill players more room to make plays in the open field. Senior Tony Lott, the team’s leading returning wide receiver, said he likes the spread attack because it gives him a better opportunity to make plays in the passing game. ‘The defense should be spread out, giving more room to make plays, more balls being thrown, so that’s always good for me,’ Lott said. ‘[There] should be a lot of open zones.’ Passes thrown to Lott will come from two untested arms, junior quarterback Alex Dulski and redshirt freshman Matt Carroll. Neither have played a down of college game action, which quarterback coach Chris Ostrowsky said he will try to combat by simulating as many game situations as possible during practice. ‘[A good quarterback has] got to have the ability to make good decisions,’ Ostrowsky said. ‘He’s got to have the ability to understand that he’s got to be a dual threat. He’s got to be able to run and he’s got to be able to pass.’ كيف تبيع وتشتري في الاسهم Ostrowski said Dulski, who will most likely be the starter according to Hager, is ‘an exceptional athlete with winning intangibles’ and ‘is a great locker room guy.’ Carroll is what Ostrowsky describes as a ‘big, strong, physical kid who brings athleticism to the position.’ Junior wide receiver Greg Abelli is expected to pick up where he left off last season as the team’s most improved offensive player, and so will junior running back John Griffin, whose speed from his work with the NU track and field team should allow him to make big plays in the running game.
Hager said if there is one strength to the team, both figuratively and literally, it is the offensive line, which has three starters returning, led by senior tackle Kevin Newhall, who was named to the preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) second team by college football expert Phil Steele.
On the other side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Frank Forcucci enters his first season with the Huskies. Forcucci, who previously coached at Fordham, will install a new base 3-4 defense that promises to include more blitzing and attacking of the opponent’s offense.
Forcucci spoke with confidence about his defense’s outlook in 2009.
‘My expectations are that we’re going to be very aggressive, and we’re going to lead the conference in tackles for a loss, that’s the goal,’ Forcucci said.
Leading the defense on the field will be senior linebacker Phil Higgins, an honorable mention to the Consensus Draft Services’ preseason All-American team and Northeastern’s leader in tackles last season. Returning from injury will be senior linebacker Craig Kenney, who Forcucci said is ‘one of the top players in this league.’
Forcucci, in an effort to make the defense faster, will have some returning players try new positions, including senior Jason Vega, who moves from the defensive line to linebacker, and junior David Akinniyi, who is expected to see time at defensive end after playing linebacker last season.
Junior safety Nate Thellen, whom Forcucci said is a player ‘to build a defense around,’ may benefit the most from the new, high-pressure defense. Thellen had a standout sophomore season a year ago, leading the team with five interceptions, including a three-interception performance in a 27-10 victory over the University of California, Davis Sept. 27. He was named to the Sports Network’s preseason All-American second team in July and was also named to Phil Steele’s All-CAA second team.
Thellen said he was excited about the new defensive system as it relates to his play.
‘I think I’m going to have the opportunity to make even more plays than I did last year,’ he said. ‘I’m looking forward to more safety blitzes, more corner blitzes, safeties in the box, all these different disguises that’s going to make our defense a lot better I believe.’
He continued by speaking of his personal expectations and leadership role.
‘I think physically I’m going to be able to compete with some of the best safeties and defensive backs in the league,’ Thellen said. ‘I just want to take my game to another level. As a leader, I’m going to try to be more vocal, lead by example obviously, and be a good role model for the freshmen coming in.’
While there is a lot of optimism from the team, Hager admitted that success ultimately comes down to wins and losses. Last season the Huskies lost four games by less than 10 points and struggled down the home stretch, losing their last seven games. This season the schedule sets up to be more favorable by including an extra home game and less travel. The team will stay in-state for eight of their 11 games and their farthest trip will be to Philadelphia for the CAA opener against Villanova. Once again the schedule will include a share of challenges including the season opener at Boston College Sept. 5 and matches against ranked opponents Villanova, New Hampshire, Maine and William & Mary.
Hager said winning close games and improving the team’s record comes down to finishing games and taking advantage of opportunities.
‘Last year the second quarter was our best quarter. We need to make it so the fourth quarter is our best quarter,’ Hager said. ‘That comes with attitude, and I think we have a winning attitude this year.’