From a mid-major standpoint, Northern Illinois University has become “Running Back U.” (Leshon Johnson, Garret Wolfe, Michael “the Burner” Turner, Chad Spann). Sure, only Michael Turner is the only one from that group to do anything in the NFL, but these rushers all dominated the collegiate level.
NIU will look to keep that running game going in spades this season, with mobile QB Chandler Harnish (although he’ll likely need to make more plays with his arm than he did in 2010, the Huskies were 85th in passing last year) with Jasmin Hopkins and Jamal Woble filling in for Spann.
It’s also a regime change campaign, as Jerry Kill parlayed his record setting 2010 (the Huskies won 11 for the first time ever in ’10) into a new gig leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It’s funny that I rate his old team higher than his new one, even though going from Dekalb to the Twin Cities, the MAC to the Big Ten, is a huge step up.
By Paul M. Banks
2010 was: As Borat would say “great success! US and A, US and A. ” The Huskies routed Fresno St in their bowl game, and had NIU found a way to pull out the MAC title game contest with Miami (OH) a great season would’ve been even that much better. Now they face a new hurdle with new Coach Dave Doeren
BMOCs: Harnish obviously, WRs Willie Clark and Martel Moore, whoever takes control of the starting tailback position, MLB Victor Jacques, the ends aren’t bad either.
2011 will be fruitful if: the offense, with it’s 9 returning starters, carries the load for the defense which has just two returning. Obviously, the work will be much harder for Defensive Coordinator Jay Niemann than it will be for his counterpart Matt Canada on the other side of the ball. Also, the MAC is just SO WEAK this year, all the Huskies have to do is show up in order to obtain 7 wins/a bowl berth.
If you look at the national ranks of FBS college football teams in various media publications, you’ll see more teams with national rankings in the ’80s, ’90s, 100s and 110s than words tattooed on Megan Fox’s body.
(Seriously, what’s up with all these Hollywood hotties ruining their sublime bodies with scripting ink? Obviously, I’m a dork that likes to read, but I don’t need to decipher text when admiring an ideal female form)
2011 will be awful if: the Huskies go 0-3, and lose badly in their toughest three games to start the season. (Army, at Kansas, Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field) If they can stay in all of those games and win at least one or two, it’ll give them the confidence they need to steamroll all the Bushers they’ll play in their conference schedule.
Bottom Line: As long as the defense brings anything to the table, and Doeren makes the most out of his first head coaching job, they should be alright. With this schedule, they would need a catastrophic rash of injuries and horrible luck to not finish 7-5 or 8-4. The Huskies were 14th in the nation in scoring defense last season, 12th in scoring offense. No reason to think there should be a huge drop off from that this year.
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