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The NIU football team turned in one of their more intense practices of the spring, despite a cold and raw day at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies spent much of Tuesday's practice working on situational play.
"The kids have responded well," NIU head coach Jerry Kill said. "We're getting a lot of things done. We've got a look at a lot of kids. Right now, the most important thing we do is evaluate the talent we have and try and figure out who's going to fit where."
Whether it was full team drills or just seven on seven, the NIU coaches and players did a great job of simulating game conditions. They worked on everything from red zone drills, starting at midfield and starting inside the offense's 10-yardline. About the only way you could tell it just a practice was by looking in the stands and seeing all the empty seats. Coaches were on the sidelines with their headsets on, rotating players in and out and signaling in the plays. You could hear the defensive players on the other side of the fielding yelling, "Three and out, let's go!" and "C'mon, get off the field!"
"One of the things the offense needs to work on is our play in the redzone," Harnish said. "I think we did four or five periods where we worked in the redzone. All we wanted to do was score. We wanted to limit turnovers and find the endzone. I thought we did a really good job.
"Then we had some other scenarios where we started at midfield and I thought we handled ourselves well. We got first downs, moved the ball well and had good tempo at times. In the elements today, it was cold and windy, I thought we did a good job."
The highlights weren't just limited to the offensive side of the ball. The defense had a couple of bright spots. They were able to apply pressure on the quarterback and bat some passes down. A couple guys even had some interceptions.
Defensive tackle D.J. Pirkle showed off his alertness and athleticism when he made a diving catch on a tipped pass, much to the delight of the rest of the defense. Cornerback Tracy Wilson made a textbook pick later in the practice, jumping up and grabbing the ball at its highest point. It was a beautiful play.
On a side note, coach Kill was wired for sound during today's practice. Be sure to check the website, www.niuhuskies.com in the next few days on Huskie All-Access to watch clip. It should prove to be very entertaining and provide a little insight into what practice is like for the Huskies. It's free to sign up for Huskie All-Access and there's great free content available.
Fans can chat live with coach Kill Thursday, April 16 at 4 p.m. It's your chance to talk to NIU football's top dog!
HUSKIES, REDBIRDS COLLIDE TODAY!
Northern Illinois head baseball coach Ed Mathey will be eyeing his 50th career home win when the Huskies and in-state non-conference rival Illinois State go head-to-head at Ralph McKinzie Field beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Audio from the game will be broadcast FREE in conjunction with the Huskie All-Access package. All you need to do is sign up if you don't have an existing account! As always, you can also follow the game on Gametracker.
LARRY AT FATTY'S
Join two-time MAC Vern Smith Award winner Larry English, April 18 from 2-4 p.m. at Fatty's for a Huskie Athletic Scholarship Fund-Raiser. Just a week away from the NFL Draft, you can get free autographs from Larry and help support NIU athletics with a silent auction. All proceeds from the silent auction benefit the Huskie Athletic Scholarship Fund. So come out, get an autograph, have one of the best burgers in town (the Ryne Sandburger with pepperjack, in my opinion).
THE CHRONICLE IS TWEETING (OR IS IT "TWITTERING?"!)
Can't get enough of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle's great coverage of NIU spring football, and Huskie athletics in general? In conjunction with the "Huskie Wire" blog, the Chronicle's John Sahly will be regularly "tweeting" and/or "twittering," renewing what he and the Chronicle's staff began the week of the 2008 Independence Bowl. The web address is www.twitter.com/HuskieWire.
PUTTING A DREAM ON HOLD
Steve Nitz of the Northern Star has an interesting baseball feature in today's edition. The focus is on NIU third baseman Troy White, who was drafted last June, but decided to attend NIU to play baseball instead of signing with the Cleveland Indians, who drafted him in the 48th round.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN ...
Likewise, the NIU softball team will also be in action Tuesday, beginning a seven-game road trip with a doubleheader at Western Illinois. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. We'll keep you posted on if any live stats come available.