Aug. 7, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois football team donned shoulder pads for the first time this year as the Huskies worked out for more than two hours Saturday afternoon at Huskie Stadium. The third practice of the season saw NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill once again working with a separate huddle made up of newcomers at one end of the field for several periods while position coaches worked with the veterans.
Kill said it was important to spend time with the young players early in camp, although his 2010 newcomers have come in better prepared than in previous years, thanks mostly to the veterans.
"The older guys did a good job this summer working with the young guys who were here in summer school," he said. "They have helped move the program along. The young kids are farther along than expected, farther along than we have been at this point. We can run more of the new players through plays, and that helps the program as a whole."
While teaching the young players the Huskie offense and defense, Kill and his coaches are also watching them adjust to the speed of practices at the college level.
"For the young guys, it's a grind," he said. "They are not used to camp, not used to the intensity and the speed of practice. It's a lot to take in. We don't have practice tomorrow, we have picture day in the morning. Usually practice doesn't go too well when you combine it with picture day. So they'll lift after pictures and we'll watch film from today's practice. I hope to get them out in the afternoon, that would be good for the young guys."
One of the positions where a strong group of veterans has stood out early is at tailback, where Kill feels good about the foursome of Chad Spann, Ricky Crider, Jasmin Hopkins and Cameron Bell.
"At running back, we've got what the Huskies are used to having," he said. "There is talent there. Chad Spann
is coming off a great year, he looks good. Ricky Crider
, people forget about him, but he looks like he did maybe as a sophomore before his injury [a broken leg against Wisconsin]. Jas Hopkins was new in the spring and was learning and Cameron Bell
is coming back after not playing last year [as a transfer], but they have stepped up their game in the last three days. I like our combination. We have a medium-sized back, a small back, a big back and a guy who can do it all."
Following Sunday's photo day, Northern Illinois will practice in shells (shorts, shoulder pads, helmets) again on Monday before going in full pads for the first time Tuesday. Wednesday will bring the first two-a-day session of the preseason, but Kill said the players and coaches are already looking ahead to Thursday, the first full scrimmage of the spring.
"Right now we are getting ready for Thursday," he said. "We're going to scrimmage on Thursday and we're going to put the young guys in there. So we're trying to get them ready. You can't have competition until everyone knows what to do. The older guys are working hard because they see these young kids and they know there's going to be competition and it makes them work harder, and pick up their intensity and speed."
The Huskies open the 2010 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 2 with a 7 p.m. contest at Iowa State. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net, and can be seen in the Chicagoland area on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Northern Illinois opens its five-game home schedule on Saturday, Sept. 11 versus North Dakota at Huskie Stadium with kickoff set for 6 p.m. (Central).
Individual game tickets for the North Dakota game as well as home contests versus MAC foes Temple (Oct. 9), Central Michigan (Oct. 23) and Toledo (Nov. 9) are $20 each for the general public, while tickets for the Oct. 16 Homecoming game versus Buffalo are $25. Senior citizens (62 and older), youth (8th grade and under) and student guest tickets for Homecoming are $20 each and are priced at $15 each for the remaining five home contests.
Season tickets for Northern Illinois' 2010 home games are one of the region's best values at just $85 for all five games. NIU faculty and staff, Varsity Club (former letterwinners), NIU Alumni Association members and senior citizens can purchase season tickets for only $74. The three-game mini-plan allows fans to choose any three 2010 games, including Homecoming, and get the same reserved seat for all three games for just $50.
Tickets can be ordered online at www.NIUHuskies.com (click the "Tickets" link on the top of the page), on the phone at 815-752-6800 or in person at the NIU Convocation Center Ticket Office in DeKalb.
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