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By Donna Turner | Posted at 3:40 pm on Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Northern Illinois Huskies wrapped up day five of spring football practice on an absolutely beautiful, brightly sunlit and unseasonably warm morning at Huskie Stadium. Northern Illinois worked out for two-plus hours in full pads, including approximately 30 minutes in 11-on-11 "team" sessions.
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill continues to be pleased with the efforts and progress the Huskies are making this spring.
"We're getting better and better and better," Kill said. "We've been out here five days and each day has been excellent in terms of the work and effort. Everyone who is putting in the effort and working hard is getting better and making progress. If you don't do that, you're going to be left behind because of the competition."
The Huskies have just 10 healthy offensive linemen, and with most drills run using two huddles to keep an up-tempo pace, the big guys up front are not resting.
Northern Illinois must replace a pair of starters in center Eddie Adamski and guard Jason Onyebuagu, while tackle Adam Kiel is out while continuing to come back from a foot injury suffered versus Ohio last year.
Scott Wedige has taken over for Adamski and is working with the first unit at center along with returnees Trevor Olson (left tackle) and Joe Pawlak (right guard). Ed Jackson (left guard) and Keith Otis (right tackle) made up the rest of the top offensive line on Thursday.
"Offensive line and linebacker are our two thinnest positions, but there is a lot of competition there," Kill said. "The repetitions, and they're getting a lot of them, are only going to make these young guys better. Then in the fall we'll have five or six more come in."
Defensively, Kill said he is seeing improvements from veterans and youngsters alike with nearly every player stepping up in some way.
"It's hard to talk about just one or two [young players who are improving], but defensively, you can look at (DB) Tommy Davis, (CB) Dominique Ware and (CB) Sean Evans in the backfield. At linebacker, you can tell Jordan Delegal is really determined, he's getting a lot of reps. Devon Butler is playing really well and Alex Kube has stepped up and is in the best shape of his life. On the defensive line, Alan Baxter has got some talent, I'll tell you. He has stood out, and plays hard all the time. It's been great to have Mike Krause back, especially with D.J. Pirkle out right now. Brian Lawson is looking good."
Quick Notes from practice: A couple times during the team and pass skell (7-on-7) work, brothers Kiaree (CB) and Akeem (WR) Daniels were matched up. Kiaree is a junior corner while Akeem arrived on campus in January and is going through his first practices as a Huskie.
Receiver Nathan Palmer and QB DeMarcus Grady were in sync on several occasions, with Palmer showing off his hands with a one-handed grab on the sidelines.
Receivers bouncing to the music that blared through the PA system during the team session.
Defensive lineman Alan Baxter making a nice play and receiving not one, not two, but three fist bumps from Head Coach Jerry Kill.
A constant stream of one-on-one communication between NIU position coaches and their players.
A final quote, and one of Kill's "themes" for the spring: "Everyone is really working hard. These kids are drinking the Kool-Aid and a lot have gotten better."
SOFTBALL SCHEDULE ADDITIONS
By Joe Summins | Posted at 9:32 am on Thursday, April 1, 2010
With the rainouts of its final two games of the Cougar Classic, the NIU softball team added a couple games to their 2010 slate. NIU will play a doubleheader with Wisconsin Tuesday, April 20 and another twin bill with Loyola a week later, Tuesday, April 27. First pitch for Game One both days is set for 3 p.m.
ENGLISH TO FACE BEARS IN 2010 PRESEASON
By Joe Summins | Posted at 9:26 am on Thursday, April 1, 2010
Speaking of schedules. The Chicago Bears announced their preseason schedule yesterday and they will be going against a familiar face to Huskie fans when they take on Larry English and the San Diego Chargers. The date hasn't been firmed yet, but the tentative dates are Aug. 12-15. Unfortunately for Huskie fans they'll have to watch it on T.V. as the Bears will be playing at San Diego.
WILL YOU GET THE CALL?
By Joe Summins | Posted at 9:17 am on Thursday, April 1, 2010
By Zach Peters | Posted at 10:05 am on Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The Northern Illinois baseball team takes on Bradley today in Peoria, Ill. at 4:00 p.m. CDT! The Huskies have won four of their last five games and can be followed through Bradley's live stats. For a preview, click here, for our NIUHuskies.com release, or here, for Seamus Brennan's story in the Northern Star.
By Joe Summins | Posted at 12:15 pm on Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The NIU football team opened its second week of spring practice and its second day in full pads under bright sunny skies Tuesday morning at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies went a little over 23 periods for two hours in their fourth practice of the spring.
"We got a lot of work done today that we need to get done to get the repetitions in and see what people can do," NIU head coach Jerry Kill said of today's practice.
The Huskies spent a considerable amount of time working together as a team during the course of practice working on everything from blitz pick up to run offense and run defense. As always, NIU spent a good portion of practice working on special teams.
Special teams has always been very important to Kill. Last season, Northern Illinois was third in the Mid-American Conference in kickoff returns and fifth in punt returns and had a kickoff and punt return go for touchdowns, as well as a fake punt that helped ensure a victory over Purdue. Today, the focus was on fielding punts.
Kill and his staff spent the first 15 minutes of today's practice working on punt return, specifically the punt returner, and addressing a problem area of the Huskies in 2009; lost yardage on punt returns.
"Even though we did some nice things on punt return last year, we had a lot of lost yardage on rolled up balls, punts that weren't fielded properly," Kill said. "That's what we try to work on in the spring."
Kill didn't have to wait long to make his point. The first punt that wasn't fielded properly, dropping in front of the returner and rolling a bit before it was picked, gave him the perfect example to teach. Kill stopped the drill and explained to all the returners how important it was to field the football. The coaching didn't stop there. He was also working with a couple players that were trying their hand at long snapping and explaining to them the proper technique.
The Huskies also closed out practice with special teams, spending the final five minutes of practice working with the PAT/field goal unit.
"On PATs and field goals it seems like there was a lot of pressure coming up the middle," he said. "So we adjusted some things on PAT/field goal. We try to figure out what those problems are and work on them in the spring and be prepared in the fall."
Here's a video of head men's soccer coach Eric Luzzi discussing a pair of spring wins the Huskies captured Saturday over Valparaiso and Green Bay. There were supposed to be highlights, but the Official Video Camera of NIU Men's Soccer crapped out during the game. If you'd like to help them replace it, contact the Huskie Athletic Support Fund at (815) 753-1923 and you can designate your gift specifically for the men's soccer program.
Congratulations to Ashley Guerra, Northern Illinois' representative at the 2010 NCAA South Central Gymnastics Regional! Guerra was selected as a bars specialist, and will compete April 10 in Columbia, Mo. Details here.
Huskie women's tennis split a pair of matches over the weekend. Here are some highlights from NIU's match against Toledo.
By Joe Summins | Posted at 12:10 pm on Monday, March 29, 2010
NIU's NFL hopefuls were put through their paces as NIU hosted its annual Pro Day at Huskie Stadium Friday. Eight former Huskies in all worked out for several NFL scouts displaying their strength, speed and agility. As you can see in the video above, their was a special guest on hand to watch the day's events.