Thursday, September 11, 2003

Shaky opener doesn't rattle Roethlisberger

RedHawk eager to face Wildcats

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] RedHawks QB Ben Roethlisberger is eager to leave behind a season-opening four-interception game against Iowa.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
Ben Roethlisberger could be forgiven if he never wanted to think about Iowa's Niles Kinnick Stadium again.

The home of the Hawkeyes has been the site of the two worst games - in terms of numbers and results - in the otherwise Heisman-caliber career of Miami's fourth-year junior quarterback. He had a career-low nine completions during a 44-19 loss in the second game of his career two years ago, and he threw a career-high four interceptions in Miami's 21-3 loss Aug. 30.

Despite those performances, Roethlisberger has a soft spot for Iowa City.

"Kinnick Stadium is one of the great places to play college football," he said. "... It's something I'll tell my kids and grandkids about."

When: Noon Saturday.
Where: Evanston, Ill.
TV: Ch. 64, ESPN Plus.
Radio: WMOH-AM (1450).
Roethlisberger and the RedHawks go on the road again this weekend to play another Big Ten team, Northwestern, at Evanston, Ill. The disappointing performance against the Hawkeyes followed by a bye week left Miami eager to return to action.

"You wait all year to play, and then you play one game and you're out again," Roethlisberger said. "We're ready to get back into it."

Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said two of the interceptions in the opener weren't the quarterback's fault. One was caused by a receiver running the wrong route; the other came as the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Roethlisberger tried to avoid a safety by throwing out of the end zone with a defender hanging onto his left arm.

"I don't think he has a bad game to come back from," Hoeppner said. "He completed 64 percent of his passes, and he engineered a tremendous drive on the first drive of the season. We did everything but get into the end zone."

Roethlisberger's performance left him three touchdown passes short of setting Miami's career record. He needs 298 yards of total offense to become the RedHawks' career leader.

"He has all of the tools," Wildcats coach Randy Walker, Hoeppner's predecessor at Miami, said of Roethlisberger. "He throws well, and he's got great escapability."

Said Hoeppner: "I look for him to have a big game, and I think he will have a big season."

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