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August 29, 2012

Expert: NSU looking for respect

To get the inside scoop on Northwestern State, we went to the expert on Demon football -- Chris Salim of the Natchitoches Times -- with questions about NSU and this weekend's game in Lubbock.

What are the expectations surrounding Brad Henderson in his second season as NSU's starting quarterback?
CS: "I think Coach (Bradley Dale) Peveto has definitely kind of set him as a leader of the offense. Last year, he came in, he was battling for a starting spot and he got it basically after week one. He just kind of showed that he was ready to take over.

"He's kind of a dual-threat kind of quarterback, likes to get out and get on the move outside the pocket. He can run if he needs to. I think as long as he stays healthy, they're good to go but this is a type of team that will use a lot of different packages with different quarterbacks.

"I don't see the offense being a problem with him. Henderson's definitely a guy that is a key for Northwestern's success this year. Given with how much parity there is in the Southland Conference, they're going to lean on him pretty heavily offensively."

From a defensive standpoint, what should Texas Tech fans look for when NSU is on the field?
CS: "They're fortunate enough to have an absolute stud at all three levels of the defense. (Defensive end) Lesley Deamer anchors the defensive line. He broke out last year. I think he had four or five sacks. Statistically, it doesn't show up as dominant as he was but he ended up being a guy that they couldn't block. He got a lot of hits on the quarterback, a lot of hurries. He's a guy that will definitely make some plays.

"Having (linebacker) Derek Rose returning, preseason All-American linebacker. He's supposedly getting some tugs from a couple of NFL teams, I haven't heard exactly who. He's the heart and soul of the defense. He'll easily lead the team in tackles if I had to guess this year. Probably a little undersized for the next level in my opinion, but if he puts on 25 pounds you're talking about a guy that could be a heck of an NFL linebacker.

"Then, in the secondary, (safety) Jamaal White, preseason All-American. He's just a guy that kind of has a nose for the football. It's his second season in a row to be a preseason All-American. He's one of those guys that will help anchor -- I actually see the secondary as being the strong point of the defense this year just because of how much depth they have. They have him and then (safety) Bert White, no relation. It will be a good test for them right off the back. That's their strong point, and they'll get tested to the Nth degree against a powerhouse like Tech."

How is Northwestern State approaching Saturday's game?
CS: "They're excited about it. It's a fun opportunity for them. I talked to Coach Peveto and several of the coaches, and they kind of want to go in there and, at the very least, earn respect. That's what they're trying to do."

What's one of the big question marks facing this team as the head into the season?
CS: "I think it's the offensive line. The offensive line struggled last year, and I think a lot of it had to do with injuries. They got a new offensive line coach in this year, Allen Rudolph, and he's done a great job with them, making sure they're accountable for everything -- if they miss a block, he's in their butt.

"I think they're going to go about nine to 10 deep on the line, which will help out a lot, especially with as many blitz packages as they see week-to-week against teams like Sam Houston."



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