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Northridge Takes Offense and Scraps It

September 22, 1993|THERESA SMITH MUNOZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three weeks into a winless season, Cal State Northridge has dumped its run-and-shoot offense in favor of a two-back offense. Coach Bob Burt said Tuesday that the Matadors will employ two running backs, two wide receivers and a tight end, instead of a tailback and four wide receivers.

Burt made the switch because there wasn't enough time for J.J. O'Laughlin, the third starting quarterback in as many weeks, to master the run-and-shoot. Coley Kyman, the quarterback who suffered season-ending leg and ankle injuries in the opener, was more familiar with it.

"When we went to the run-and-shoot, we had a quarterback who knew the system and could hit the hot reads (defensive reads made during the play)," Burt said. "He was a quality athlete, a quarterback in the program for four years, and when he went down, it forced us to change what we're trying to do offensively."

Last week, in a 23-9 loss to Northern Arizona, the Matadors (0-3) used both offenses and failed to execute either.

The offense generated only 107 yards, 31 passing. O'Laughlin, a transfer from Illinois who joined the team one week into the season, completed 10 of 27 passes with one interception. Although tailback Robert Trice gained 75 yards in 19 carries, Burt said the offense didn't give him opportunities to break long gains.

"He's a weapon," Burt said. "We'd like to get him the ball more. We'd like to get the ball to (receivers) Saadite Green more and Duc Ngo and hopefully, we will."

In conjunction with its move to Division I-AA, Northridge originally switched to the run-and-shoot as a means of handling the higher level of competition, including San Diego State, Weber State and Northern Arizona.

Northern Arizona surprised the Matadors by blitzing on almost every down, and O'Laughlin spent the evening on his back or dumping off passes with defensive linemen in his face.

Given one week of preparation in the same offense with the same starting quarterback for the first time all season, Burt believes the offense will move the ball Saturday against Division II Sonoma State in Northridge's home opener.

"This is the biggest game of the year," Burt said. "Period. Bar none. We haven't won a game and these are people we are supposed to compete with and we have a history of competing with them."

Matador Notes

Inside linebacker O.J. Ojomoh became the first Northridge player to be honored by the new American West Conference. Ojomoh was named conference defensive player of the week for his 14 tackles, nine solo, including four sacks, in the loss to Northern Arizona. . . . Defensive end Victor Myles, the captain of the defense, missed Tuesday's practice to be with his ailing father, Encell Rodgers. Rodgers, who has cancer, is hospitalized at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach. . . . Outside linebacker Ivy Calvin missed practice because of a pulled muscle. He is expected to play Saturday. . . . Travis Hall, the team's lone tight end, injured his right foot Tuesday and was expected to have it X-rayed today.

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