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Northridge's First Step Up Is a Steep One

September 04, 1993|THERESA SMITH MUNOZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Northridge Coach Bob Burt's reaction to taking his team--17 scholarships and all--against San Diego State, a team with 88 scholarship players, including Heisman Trophy candidate Marshall Faulk?

"I feel a little bit like Wile E. Coyote because the Roadrunner has these little traps for me everywhere I turn," Burt said.

The trap was set when Cal State Fullerton dropped football last December. Both Northridge and San Diego State had the Titans on their 1993 schedule. Northridge Athletic Director Bob Hiegert contacted Aztec Athletic Director Fred Miller and agreed to play, giving Northridge's financially beleaguered athletic program a $65,000 guarantee for its Division I-AA debut.

Although the Matadors (5-5 last year) realize they are overmatched for tonight's 6:05 game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, their pride won't let them give in.

"We can't have one man thinking negatively about this game," defensive backs coach LeRoy Irvin said. "We have to play the best game ever, out of our heads. This is the biggest game in the school's history."

It's also the biggest game in most of the players' careers, including 11 who will start for the first time.

Among those first-time starters are quarterback Coley Kyman and strong safety James (Scoody) Woods, the only freshman starter. Kyman, a three-time All-American volleyball player, won the starting job over Clayton Millis, a sophomore transfer from Oregon, and will direct the team's new run-and-shoot offense.

"It's my biggest football game ever," Kyman said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. It'll be fun in front of 40,000 fans."

Faulk, the NCAA's leading rusher the past two seasons with 1,429 and 1,620 yards, is also planning on having fun. Although he said he's not aiming for it, he could have fun breaking the NCAA single game rushing record of 396 yards.

In the face of Faulk, Northridge defensive coordinator Mark Banker is in a quandary. If he stacks the line of scrimmage, San Diego State quarterback David Lowery might riddle the secondary.

Irvin said his players are prepared.

"My guys are looking for a challenge," he said. "They are always looking to measure themselves. A lot of times they are overlooked because they are Northridge."

National Football League prospect Darnay Scott could provide the challenge. He caught 68 passes for 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns last season. DeAndre Maxwell averaged 20.6 yards per catch and Keith Williams was at 13.8.

Lowery, one of 16 returning starters, completed 52% of his passes for 2,632 yards and 21 touchdowns.

La'Roi Glover, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound tackle, is the leader of a revamped 4-3 defense under new coordinator Del Wight, formerly of Fresno State.

Last season, San Diego State (5-5-1) lost three of its last four games and blew the Western Athletic Conference title. The Aztecs also were involved in three bench-clearing brawls in their final two games.

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Northridge wide receiver Saadite Green believes the Matadors deserve more respect.

"They're underestimating us," he said. "The media, our school, everybody in San Diego. We don't have as many players, but we're just going to strap it on. They are in for a surprise."

Green loves the Matadors new run-and-shoot scheme.

"That's what I want to do, catch the ball," he said. "It's like you make the decision according to the defense, not a set play, that's the way I like it."

He and fellow starting wide receiver Victor Prince prepared for the season by running a steep hill at Kenneth Hahn Park in the Baldwin Hills area.

"I called it Sweet Jesus," Green said. "It got me ready."

Matador Notes

Northridge is 0-6 against the Aztecs. The last time the teams played, in 1967, Northridge was known as San Fernando Valley State. . . .

Matador tailback Robert Trice is shooting for a 1,500-yard season. Last year, Trice's chronically strained hamstrings limited him to 106 carries for 478 yards. "They haven't been bothering me so I don't think they are a problem," he said. "I've been doing a lot of running and stretching." . . .

Northridge defensive backs coach LeRoy Irvin has been an Aztec follower for several years. "I like the way they fly around on defense, I like their black shoes, and I like their Raider attitude," he said. "They are a big-play team."

Cal State Northridge Roster

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