Huskies By Position: Huskie Defensive Line

GO HUSKIES Ken Bishop played in all 14 games in the trenches last season, starting nine.
Ken Bishop played in all 14 games in the trenches last season, starting nine.

Aug 23, 2013

Over the past two weeks, has previewed every position on the 2013 Northern Illinois football team, continuing today with the Huskie defensive line. In addition, sign up for Huskies All-Access to see a video breakdown of every position with interviews and practice highlights. The video will be available within 24 hours after the article is posted.

Previous Position Previews
Offensive Line
Fullbacks and Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Running Backs

– The Northern Illinois University defensive line is a stark contrast from its brethren on the offensive side of the ball. While the entire starting offensive line returns, the Huskie front four was hit hard by graduation losing three starters. This year’s group is ready to show there won’t be a drop off in production or talent.

Not only did the Huskies lose three starters on the defensive line from last year’s squad, they also lost their position coach too when Ryan Nielsen left for N.C. State with Dave Doeren. Enter Brett Diersen, a 15-year coaching veteran who has spent much of his career coaching defensive linemen. With a new coach and no position promised to anyone, competition has been fierce during fall camp.

“They’re all working hard to fine tune the fundamentals and technique,” said Diersen. “Obviously I wasn’t here last year, so I think all the guys have stepped up at every position. It’s great competition right now.”

One of the strengths of last year’s defensive line was its depth. A byproduct of that depth is that many of the returning players saw plenty of playing time. That has enhanced the competition during camp.

At 6-1, 308, senior Ken Bishop (Lauderhill, Fla./Piper) is a force inside at defensive tackle for the Huskies. The lone returning starter, Bishop, who started nine games for NIU last year, was the third-leading tackler among defensive linemen with 55 stops last season. He came up big for the Huskies in the 2012 MAC Championship game recording career highs in tackles with eight and tackles for loss with three.

One Huskie who had a coming out party at the MAC title game was defensive end George Rainey. The senior from Milwaukee, Wis. tallied four tackles, including a career-high 1.5 tackles for loss and recorded his first career sack in the game. Senior Joe Windsor (Kearney, Mo./Kearney), who was third on the team in sacks with seven and tied for second on the team in tackles with 10.5 in a reserve role, has assumed the other defensive end spot. The 6-0, 236-pound Windsor tied his career-high in sacks with two against Kansas last season.

Donovan Gordon (Kansas City, Mo./Raytown), who saw playing time last year after transferring to NIU from Nebraska-Omaha, has taken control of the second tackle position. Gordon recorded 21 tackles, including a career-high four stops on two occasions last year.

Junior Jason Meehan (St. Louis, Mo./Webster Groves), sophomore Perez Ford (Romeoville, Ill./Romeoville), and redshirt freshman Mario Jones (Chicago, IL/Hubbard) and Michael Ippolito (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) have worked their way into the second unit. Defensive end Stephen O’Neal (Park Forest, Ill./Rich East) and defensive tackle Anthony Wells (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago), who played in all 14 games starting four, will ensure that depth remains a strength of the D-line.

Diersen has been impressed with the way the unit has progressed as whole during camp.

“They all got better,” Diersen said. “The neat thing was, they took the stuff we talked about in the meeting rooms and took it to the field. I told them that’s impressive. That’s a huge step in the right direction and they need to just keep pushing and understand when it comes right down to it, it’s going to be the technique and fundamentals everyday that’s going to get you out of trouble.”

Today marked the second to last practice of fall camp. The Huskies ran through a regular 24 period practice (five minutes each period).
Tomorrow Northern Illinois will run through a situational practice, preparing the team for all possibilities that may occur in a game, including a game day warmup in pre-practice.
Senior safety Jimmie Ward has played a majority of this year’s camp with cast on his. However, the cast was not detrimental in his ability to intercept balls in the air as he picked off a pass during the team defensive period.
Sticking to the team sessions theme, the Huskies ran through their team sessions to the smooth sounds of Kinnick Stadium in the background. Atmospheric sounds from the stadium, the band and the fans were all included.

“We’ve come a long way since day one of camp. We had a lot mental errors on day one, we’ve been (giving reps to) a lot of freshmen and now we’re starting to limit those mental errors. It’s time to start playing Iowa now.”  --- Jordan Lynch
“We transitioned a little bit to Iowa this week and since we had the time in camp, we wanted to use it to prepare a little bit. The guys will start classes on Monday and we’ll transition back to 20 hours per week with the team. We also started (Iowa prep) because frankly, the guys needed a change, they were sick of hitting each other all the time. (The team) did a nice job of coming to work everyday during camp. There were ups and downs, like every camp, but these guys came to work.”  --- Head Coach Rod Carey

The Huskies’ home opener against Eastern Illinois is set for Sept. 21st. Season and single game tickets for Northern Illinois' 2013 home schedule are on sale now. The new Huskieland Plan, which includes a ticket to all five home games (sections A and G) and $50 in Doggie Dollars good for parking and/or concessions, is just $50. All remaining season ticket locations for the 2013 Huskie Stadium home slate are just $100 while NIU Alumni Association members, senior citizens (62+), youth (3-13), NIU Varsity Club (former letterwinners) members and faculty and staff can see every game for just $88. Season tickets are available by calling NIU Athletics at 815-753-PACK (7225), or go online to for complete information and order forms.

Single game tickets are priced at just $15 for seating in the upper rows of sections A and G in Huskie Stadium, while seats in sections B, F and lower A and G are $24 for the general public and $18 for senior citizens (ages 62 and over) and youth (ages 3-13). Seats in section C, D and E, as well as seats on the East Side, are just $30 for the general public and $20 for senior citizens and youth. Single game tickets for the five-game home schedule can be purchased through the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center, online via Ticketmaster and and on the phone by calling 815-753-PACK.




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