Football: December 2011 Archives

PHIL STEELE'S ALL-MAC TEAM ANNOUNCED

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Pat Schiller Blitzes for a sack.jpgThe Northern Illinois University football team saw 12 Huskies named to Phil Steele's 2011 Postseason All-MAC Team. NIU had four first teamers, three on offense and one special teams. 2011 Vern Smith Award winner Chandler Harnish, center Scott Wedige, left tackle Trevor Olson and kick returner Tommylee Lewis earned first team honors.

Running back Jasmin Hopkins, defensive linemen Sean Progar and Ron Newcomb, linebacker Pat Schiller and kicker Mathew Sims were all second-team honorees. Northern Illinois also had three third-team selections; wide receiver Nathan Palmer, offensive lineman Joe Pawlak and defensive back Jimmie Ward.

NIU had nine All-MAC selections as voted on by the league's coaches. Eight of the 12 Huskies on Phil Steele's All-MAC team garnered accolades from league coaches. Lewis, Newcomb, Pawlak and Schiller were earning All-MAC honors for the first time this season.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

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Doeren 5.jpgIt has been just over since Dave Doeren was announced as Northern Illinois University's 21st head football coach. What a difference a year makes. Doeren has led NIU to its first Mid-American Conference championship since 1983 and a berth in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Ryan Wood of the Daily Chronicle visited with Doeren after yesterday's practice to get his thought's on his first season as a head coach in this Q&A.

NIU EARNS AFCA ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT HONOR

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The Northern Illinois football program has been named to the American Football Coaches Association's honorable mention list for the 2011 Academic Achievement Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Memphis.

Based on the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of football student-athletes who enrolled in 2004, the award is given annually to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team with the highest GSR, at least 15 students in the GSR cohort and a Federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or better. Boise State and Miami (Ohio) shared this year's Academic Achievement Award with a 100 percent graduation rate, while Northern Illinois was one of 44 schools named to the honorable mention list.

Among the 44 honorable mention teams, which includes institutions who graduated 75 percent or more of their football student-athletes, NIU was one of 15 schools at the top of the list with a GSR of 90 percent or higher. Those 15 teams are Air Force, Army, Boston College, Central Florida, Duke, Florida, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Navy, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rice and Stanford.

Including Miami, NIU was one of four Mid-American Conference teams recognized in 2011 as Ohio and Bowling Green were also among the AFCA's honorable mention squads.

This year's award marks the fourth time the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner of the AFCA Academic Achievement Award. From 1981 to 2007, the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA.

NIU IN THE NFL UPDATE

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Just how good was the Northern Illinois University secondary last year? Two former starters from last season's squad, safety Tracy Wilson and cornerback Chris Smith, are playing in the National Football League.

Wilson, as you read here on Huskie Happenings a few weeks ago, was elevated from to the Jets active roster from the practice squad. He has seen action in two games, making three tackles on the season. Wilson made one tackle, an assist, against Washington and made a solo and assisted tackle this weekend against Kansas City.

Smith, who is playing for the St. Louis Rams, saw action in his first NFL game Monday night in Seattle. he made three solo tackles and the Rams fell to the Seahawks, 30-13.

Former NIU running back Chad Spann is still in the league as well. The former Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, who started the year with Indianapolis, then was picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is now on the Steelers practice squad.

GOOD ADVICE FROM DODD

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Harnish-Chandler-2010-002.jpgThe Huskies appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl continues to get positive reviews. While the bowl itself was ranked No. 33 out of 35 by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, he did tell fans across the nation that that this would be the last time they could see NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish.

WEDIGE HONORED

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KU-Line of Scrimmage.jpgVarious organizations and media outlets are starting to release their All-America teams. As expected, most of them are littered with big names from big schools. CBSSports.com thought pretty highly of NIU's Scott Wedige, naming the senior center second-team All-American. Wedige is the only Mid-American Conference player on either first or second team. The CBSSports.com All-America Teams were selected by the staff, writers and bloggers.

Wedige is the first Huskie to be named to an All-America team since Larry English in 2008. English was a third team selection by Phil Steele and an honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly.

BOWL BREAKDOWNS

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GoDaddy.jpgMatt Hinton of Yahoo! Sports gave this break down of some of the best and worst bowl match ups. The GoDaddy.com Bowl got some love as one of the best bowl games on the slate this year.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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The Huskies earned another conference championship over the weekend with the football team's win against Ohio Friday night, while volleyball's season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament.

Football: The Huskies clinched their first MAC title since 1983 Friday night in Detroit with a 23-20 victory against the Ohio Bobcats. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, NIU engineered a second-half comeback that included three Chandler Harnish touchdown passes and a stout defensive performance. The win, though, was not secured until Mat Sims converted on a 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Huskies will now play Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against the Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State Red Wolves.

Volleyball: Northern Illinois's season came to a close Friday night in Ames, Iowa, as the Huskies were defeated by No. 25 Miami, 3-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Lauren Wicinski paced the Huskies with 23 kills, while Kristin Hoffman registered a double-double with 47 assists and 13 digs. NIU finishes the season with a 28-7 record.

Men's Basketball: There were two more tough losses for the Huskies during the week, as NIU lost to Utah Valley and Nebraska Omaha. On Monday night, the Huskies were tied with UVU into the second half, but a scoring drought doomed Northern in a 58-47 defeat. In their return home Saturday afternoon, Tim Toler scored 25 points and the team committed a season-low eight turnovers, but the Mavericks' 52 percent shooting performance lifted them to a 77-72 win against NIU.

Women's Basketball: NIU pulled out a close win Tuesday night with a 53-50 win against instate rival Southern Illinois. Trailing 50-49 late, Alicia Johnson sank a jumper with 13 seconds left to put NIU ahead for good. The Huskies were paced by Amanda Corral, who put in 17 points in the win.

Wrestling: The Huskies pushed Purdue to the brink Thursday night in DeKalb, but couldn't pull out a win in a 19-15 loss at the annual NIU Showcase Meet. Trailing 16-9 with three matches left, the Huskies scored wins at 184 and 197 to pull within one point of the Boilermakers. Yet, Jared Torrence's valiant effort at heavyweight was for naught, as Purdue won the final match in triple-overtime to escape with a win.

With finals week in full swing, the schedule becomes very light for the Huskies. Men's basketball plays their lone road game in December Saturday at UIC, while the women's basketball team also heads to the Windy City to face Chicago State Sunday. Meanwhile, track & field kicks off their 2011-12 schedule Friday at the Iowa State Holiday Preview.