Northridge had trouble defending against veer rushing attacks last season, which is what it will face tonight in its nonconference season opener. CSUN defeated Hayward, 38-27, last season but had trouble corralling Pioneer tailback Lamar Kirkland, who gained 185 yards. Ineligibility has done to Kirkland what the Matador defense could not, however, and he is out for the season. Hayward, 2-8 in 1987, will still try to run with junior quarterback Rick Neugebauer at the controls. He was second on the team in rushing last season with 343 yards but passed for only 327 yards. Craig Roberts, who gained 246 yards in 29 carries last season, has replaced Kirkland as the Pioneers' top running threat, but he is listed as questionable against CSUN because of an ankle injury. Reed Smalley and Greg Gray, transfers from Chaffey College, could carry the ball often for Hayward. The Pioneer defense is led by Richard Rosette, a 6-4, 220-pound tackle and Earl Butler Jr., an All-Northern California Athletic Conference strong safety last season. Northridge, 7-4 in '87, also has a strong running game, led by tailback Albert Fann. The sophomore rushed for 822 yards last season and has beefed up 15 pounds to 221 over the summer without losing speed. Lance Harper gives the Matadors a breakaway threat in the backfield. At quarterback, CSUN will alternate senior Rob Huffman and sophomore Sherdrick Bonner, both of whom will be operating behind a revamped line. Watch guard Barry Voorhees, a 6-4, 285-pound converted defensive tackle who has earned the nickname "The Wall." On defense, the Matadors have only two returning starters--nose tackle Dennis McConnaughy and cornerback Reggie Williams. A key for CSUN: The play of defensive tackles Anthony Birts and Mike Meehan.