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NU's Kafka preparing to start vs. Minnesota
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/29/2008 12:02 AM

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Backup quarterback Mike Kafka handled all of the snaps with Northwestern's first-string offense Tuesday morning.

Starter C.J. Bacher, dressed in his jersey and sweats, stood nearby alongside offensive coordinator Mick McCall much of the time and took mental reps.

Bacher, who injured his right hamstring Saturday at Indiana, didn't appear to walk with much of a limp.

"I told you he was going to do rehab today," said coach Pat Fitzgerald. "Might do rehab tomorrow. I've got to see how everything goes today, but he felt better than he did yesterday."

Kafka, meanwhile, continues to prepare as if he'll make his first start since Sept. 22, 2006, though he's not presuming he'll be the first-stringer at No. 17 Minnesota (11 a.m., ESPN2).

"Throughout the year, you've got to be consistent," Kafka said. "That's what we've been stressing a lot this year: preparing consistently. This game's like any other game."

The redshirt junior directed the first-team offense through a turnover-free practice, which was a point of pride for Fitzgerald after Saturday's 5-turnover effort at Indiana.

"I thought he had a great practice today," Fitzgerald said. "I thought he went out and executed what we were expecting him to do, from the standpoint of the game plan.

"You know, Mike's a very confident young man. He's come here to be our starting quarterback. Obviously, he has competed for it and won it and his opportunity is now - if it happens."

Kafka has appeared briefly in four games this year. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 10 yards and rushed six times for a net of zero yards.

Adjective king: Iowa running back Shonn Greene is listed generously as 5-feet-11. If you stacked all of the words Illinois coach Ron Zook used to describe Greene on Tuesday, they might dwarf the nation's No. 3 rusher.

"He's a one-cut, downhill, tough, strong, powerful running back," Zook said.

After sitting out last year and attending junior college to get his academics in order, the 235-pound junior owns 1,154 yards and 10 scores going into Saturday's game at Illinois (2:30 p.m., ABC 7).

Some Iowa fans have grown so fond of Greene, they're trying to implement a "Green-out" for next week's home game with No. 3 Penn State in an effort to boost his national-award chances.

"When I start watching tape of him," Zook said, "the guy he reminds me of is the guy at Michigan last year: Mike Hart."