Jan. 3, 2012
After enjoying an eight-day holiday break, the Northern Illinois football team returned to DeKalb and resumed preparations for its Jan. 8 GoDaddy.com bowl match-up versus Arkansas State on Monday. The Huskie offense and defense worked for two hours apiece in the comfort of the DeKalb Indoor Recreation Center for the first time since Dec. 23.
The workout was the first of two that NIU will hold in DeKalb before the team travels to Mobile, Alabama Wednesday morning and takes to the practice fields of UMS-Wright Preparatory School in the warmer southern climate.
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren, who said his team returned from the break fresh and focused, cautioned that the Huskies will have to play at a high level to defeat the Red Wolves of Arkansas State. Arkansas State, champions of the Sun Belt Conference, enter the game with a 10-2 record and a nine-game winning streak.
"They are a very good defense," Doeren said. "They'll probably be the best defensive line we've played against and they've got a linebacker who will play at the next level. They play fast and they play together. We have to execute our schemes on both sides of the ball. We've got to avoid turnovers and we've got to get some explosive plays on special teams."
The GoDaddy.com Bowl matches a pair of 10-win teams and conference champions, one of only three bowls that can make that claim. Northern Illinois is attempting to match its school record of 11 wins of a year ago while sending the 2011 seniors out as the winningest senior class in NIU history. The class is the first to play in four consecutive bowl games