Besides the typical dings and bruises that come with playing football, Northern Michigan University had been injury free after the first week of practice. But the second week of practice wasn’t so kind to the Wildcats.
On Thursday, starting running back Casey Cotta suffered an injury during practice. It was later confirmed that Cotta tore his Achilles tendon, and he will miss the entire season.
Cotta as a big part of NMU’s rushing offense in 2012, especially in the second half of the season. He was second on the team with 398 rushing yards, including a career high 130 yards and two touchdowns against Grand Valley State.
Losing Cotta is a tough blow for the Wildcats, but they do have depth and experience at the tailback position.
“Casey is a huge loss for us, he’s a huge loss on many levels. He’s a great leader, a great worker, he was a guy that got after it really hard in terms of the off-season and commitment to the program,” said head coach Chris Ostrowsky. “With that being said, Wyatt Jurasin is having an amazing camp. He’s big, he’s fast, strong- he does everything we ask him to do.”
“Keon Collier had a nice camp and we’re excited about him. The depth (at running back) is good, you have to stay healthy, but I feel really good about those guys,” added Ostrowsky.
“The good teams, when you lose a good guy, have to be able to adapt and overcome that. I think we have two good backs in Wyatt and Keon,” said senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak. “Wyatt brings that physical edge. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong. Keon is more of your speed back and Keon is one of the best speed runners I’ve seen.”
At the Wildcats media day on Sunday, Coach Ostrowsky talked about the season opener at home against Findlay. Ostrowsky said that his team is excited to start the season at home in the Superior Dome, but there is a lot to do between now and then.
“We’re going to do the little things. We’re going to try and make sure that the game operation end of things are taken care of. “That is always hard to simulate before you play a game,” said Ostrowsky.
“We are going to work hard on getting in substitutions from the sidelines, trying to create a situation where we are giving our guys the opportunity to independently play without coaches behind them. We are going to do as much live, situational stuff as we can, heading up to Findlay,” Ostrowsky went on to say.
NMU opens the season at home against Findlay on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 1pm.