Illinois Updated QB Situation: Junior Phil Horvath Wins Starting
Job For Michigan Contest
IL --- As far as head football coach Joe Novak is concerned, the
preseason competition for the Norrthern Illinois University starting
quarterback job is history.
Horvath (Naperville / Central) is the man. The 6-foot-3, 197-pounder
will be under center when Novaks Huskies open the 2005 season
against the No. 4-ranked University of Michigan in The Big
House on September 3.
Horvath is our starter, Novak announced after practice Monday
(August 22). I told our quarterbacks after last Saturdays
practice. All of our quarterbacks have worked hard this summer and
improved since spring ball. Phils overall consistency and
his understanding of our offense spoke for itself.
now, were throwing the ball, protecting, and catching as well
as we have in the last two or three years. Thats not meant
as a slight to anyone else. Were still excited about the potential
of our other quarterback candidates. Along the way, we hope to give
our other kids some playing time.
point, we have to have a starter and prepare for Michigan with that
individual and thats Phil, Novak added. I wish
we couldve decided the quarterback situation last spring,
but I think the competition was good for everyone involved.
Listed as the
No. 1 Northern Illinois QB since the day after the 34-21 victory
over Troy University last December 30 in the Silicon Valley Football
Classic, Horvath maintained that spot all during the offseason.
Red-shirt frosh Britt Davis (Broadview / Riverside-Brookfield) and
Dan Nicholson (Chicago / Brother Rice) now share the No. 2 spot
followed by soph Zach Ullrich (Winfield / Wheaton North) at No.
Next on the
current NIU quarterback depth chart would be true frosh walk-ons
Ryan Morris (West Chicago) and Derek Watson (Mequon, WI / Homestead).
In 2004, Horvath
earned his first varsity letter and fashioned a 2-1 record in three
Huskie starts on a 9-3 bowl unit that shared the Mid-American Conference
West Division title and finished No. 29 in both major polls. Prior
to the season-opener at the University of Maryland a year ago, Horvath
had never taken a Division 1-A snap.
After a foot
injury (fracture) sidelined incumbent senior QB Josh Haldi in the
first series against the No. 22-ranked Terrapins, Horvath completed
19-of-36 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown in relief and pulled
Northern Illinois within striking distance in a 23-20 setback on
Novaks Huskies to a pair of triumphs in the next three weeks.
In his first start versus Division 1-AA powerhouse Southern Illinois
University, No. 3 hit 11-of-22 aerials for 148 yards and one TD
(40 yards). Seven days later, Horvath threw for a career-high 285
yards, four TDs (12, 16, 9, and 42 yards), and four interceptions
on 20-of-34 passes versus Independence Bowl-bound Iowa State University
in a 48-41 loss.
still sidelined by the foot injury, Horvath came of age during the
34-17 showdown victory against Bowling Green State University on
a national ESPN2 cablecast. He helped generate 483 total offense
yards, completed 16-of-23 passes for 191 yards, and added 32 rushing
yards on six carries in the BGSU success.
Phil established himself in the Bowling Green game, Novak
said at the time. Horvath played a perfect game. After the
Iowa State game, he went to (offensive coordinator) John Bond and
said: In not throwing any more interceptions.
I dont think Josh Haldi couldve played any better (that
For the season,
Horvath wound up the most productive No. 2 Northern Illinois QB
since Pete Genatempo (94-of-171 passes for 916 yards and five TDs
in 1984) by hitting 72-of-123 aerials for 954 yards and six TD
In another announcement Monday, Novak said that Huskie practices
for the next several weeks would be closed to the general
public. Northern Illinois opens its 2005 schedule against Big Ten
Conference opposition Michigan and Northwestern University (Sept.
10) before returning for its home opener versus Tennessee Tech University