Sept. 1, 2009
Northern Illinois Football 2009
GAME 1 -- Northern Illinois (0-0) at Wisconsin (0-0)
Madison, Wisc. - Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
Sept. 5, 2009 - 6 p.m. (CDT) -- Big Ten Network
RADIO -- WSCR AM 670 (Chicago), WLBK AM 1360 (DeKalb), WTJK AM 1380 (Beloit)
Complete Release in PDF Format | Weekly Press Conference Quotes
2008 Final Record: 6-7
2008 Final MAC Record/Finish: 5-3/4th West Head Coach: Jerry Kill Alma Mater/Year: Southwestern (KS)/1983
Record at NIU/Year: 6-7/2nd Career Record/Year: 110-64/16th
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: Field Turf /24,000
President: Dr. John Peters
Associate VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
NIU 2009 Schedule
2008 Final Record: 7-6
2008 Final Big Ten Record/Finish: 3-5/T6th
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Alma Mater/Year: Iowa/1992
Record at UW/Year: 28-11/4th
Career Record/Year: Same
Location: Madison, Wisc.
Conference: Big Ten
Colors: Cardinal and White
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium
Surface/Capacity: Field Turf /80,321
Chancellor: Carolyn "Biddy" Martin
Athletic Director: Barry Alvarez
Ticket Information: 608-262-1440
UW 2009 Schedule
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill
Jerry Kill enters his 16th season as a college head coach, and his second season at Northern Illinois, with a career record of 110-64-0 for a winning percentage of .632. Prior to coming to NIU, where he led the Huskies to an Independence Bowl berth and a 6-7 record in his first season as a FBS head coach, and saw Larry English become the highest draft choice in school history, Kill spent 14 years as head coach of programs at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), Emporia State (Kansas) and, most recently, Southern Illinois. From 2003-07, Kill led SIU to five straight appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, and overall, he compiled a mark of 55-32 in seven seasons in Carbondale. He was named the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year after leading the Salukis to a 12-2 record and the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. Kill was also honored as the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year following the 2004 season. His SIU teams won three straight Gateway (now Missouri Valley) Football Conference titles from 2004-06 and were ranked in the top 20 for 64 straight weeks beginning in 2003. At Southern Illinois, Kill coached five first-team All-Americans and four Walter Payton Award finalists; four of his former players are currently on NFL rosters, led by N.Y. Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs and Jets linebacker Bart Scott. Prior to going to SIU, Kill spent two seasons as head coach at Emporia State in his home state of Kansas. In his first collegiate head coaching job, at Saginaw Valley State from 1994-98, he won 38 games and compiled a 9-2 record in each of his last two seasons there. A native of Cheney, Kansas, Kill began his career at Pittsburg State, a powerhouse NAIA and then Division II program. He was offensive coordinator for the 1991 PSU team that won the NCAA title with a 13-1-1 record, while the 1992 Gorillas earned a runner-up finish with a 14-1 mark.
News & Notes
Northern Illinois opens its 108th season of college football with a night game at Wisconsin. The Huskies return 12 starters off their 2008 Independence Bowl squad, Head Coach Jerry Kill's first NIU team, and welcome 37 newcomers to the 2009 roster.
Big Ten Openers
The Huskies will start the season by facing a Big Ten opponent for the fifth straight year with four of those contests taking place on the road. A year ago, NIU opened at Minnesota with a 31-27 loss. Northern Illinois played host to Iowa at Chicago's Soldier Field in 2007 in the school's first ever home game agaionst a Big Ten foe. The Huskies faced No. 1 ranked Ohio State in Columbus in 2006 and played Michigan in their 2005 lid-lifter.
Heading for 1,000
Northern Illinois will play its 1,000th game in 2009 as the Huskies enter the season with an all-time record of 494-451-51 in 107 seasons. The 1,000th game will take place at Huskie Stadium on Sept. 26, 2009 versus Idaho. NIU, which played its first game in 1899, has an all-time winning percentage of .521.
Badgers 'n Dogs
Wisconsin has been the Huskies' most frequent Big Ten opponent over the years as Saturday's game marks the 12th meeting between the schools. The teams last met on October 20, 2007 when UW defeated an injury-riddled NIU team, 44-3, at Camp Randall Stadium. Northern Illinois' lone win in the series, and the Huskies' only victory all-time over a Big Ten opponent, came in 1988 by a 19-17 score. NIU lost its next two games versus the Badgers by slim 18-17 (1992) and 24-21 (2002) margins.
Battling the Big Ten
NIU has played 33 games against nine different Big Ten teams over the years. All-time, Northern Illinois has claimed one win and one tie versus league teams with a 19-17 victory over Wisconsin in 1988 and a 16-16 tie at Northwestern in 1987. In two weeks, the Huskies will travel to Purdue to face one of only two Big Ten teams that NIU has not played, leaving Michigan State alone on that list.
The Time for Kill
Huskie Head Coach Jerry Kill enters his second season at the helm of the NIU program after leading Northern Illinois to a four-game improvement and a spot in the 2008 Independence Bowl. Dating back to his days at Southern Illinois, a team he built into an FCS powerhouse, Kill-coached teams have made six straight postseason appearances. He was named the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and enters his 16th season as a collegiate head coach with a record of 110-64 and a winning percentage of .632.
When Kill calls his 2009 team "youngsters," the head coach is not exaggerating. Thirty-six players on this year's roster are new to the team, while another 19 have never played a down for the Huskies. Of those 55 players, the names of 22 appear on the NIU depth chart heading to Wisconsin, including seven on offense, 12 on defense and three specialists.
Familiarity is Fine
For the first time in 10 years, Northern Illinois has retained its entire football assistant coaching staff. The last time that NIU was able to begin a season with the same coaching staff as the previous year was in 1999, a season that saw a three-game improvement in victories. Keeping a staff together is nothing new for Kill, who brought seven assistants, two graduate assistants and Director of Sports Performance Eric Klein to NIU from his staff at SIU.
The Huskies' roster includes nine Wisconsinites, and five of those are expected to make the trip to Madison, including 2009 signees Jared Volk (Hartland) and Zach Anderson (Ladysmith). Redshirt freshman Jody Van Laanen (Green Bay), senior tight end Reed Cunningham (Cambria) and back-up center Scott Wedige (Elkhorn) are also on the travel list. Two former starters from Wisconsin - noseguard Mike Krause (Germantown) and offensive lineman Kevin Skatrud (Brodhead) - will not play this season due to medical situations which forced Skatrud, a senior, to retire.
Last Clash of Cardinal
The last time Northern Illinois and Wisconsin played, on Oct. 20, 2007, an injury-plagued Huskie team simply did not have enough weapons against a tough Badger team in a 44-3 loss. Wisconsin scored two touchdowns in each of the first two quarters, including on a 72-yard run by P.J. Hill, and the Huskies could manage only a 34-yard third-quarter field goal by Chris Nendick. Northern Illinois finished with minus 13 yards rushing and 99 yards of total offense while UW racked up 331 rushing yards, 184 by Hill.
See You in Chicago
The final game in this three-game set between NIU and Wisconsin, which began in 2007 and continues this year, will be played Sept. 17, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The game will mark Northern Illinois' second "home" game at the historic Chicago landmark as NIU and Iowa played in front of a sold-out crowd at Soldier Field on Sept. 1, 2007.
Six Huskies who started in the 2007 game between these teams are listed as starters this week. Two years ago, center Eddie Adamski, offensive guard Jason Onyebuagu, defensive end Brandon Bice and weak side linebacker Cory Hanson were sophomore starters at those same positions, while Alex Kube started as a sophomore at safety but is now a linebacker. In addition to those five, wide receiver Landon Cox started that 2007 contest as a true freshman and caught a 12-yard pass.
The 2007 game between Northern Illinois and Wisconsin began ominously when NIU's Ricky Crider suffered a broken leg on the opening kickoff and the game was delayed several minutes as an ambulance was called onto the field. The good news is that Crider has made a full recovery and came back last season to gain 208 yards on 43 carries while playing in all 13 games for the Huskies.
Over the last five years, Northern Illinois has made more postseason appearances - four - than any team in the Mid-American Conference. Last year, the Huskies continued to build their postseason résumé with a trip to the 2008 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. where they fell to Louisiana Tech, 17-10. Dating back to 2004, NIU has played in the Silicon Valley Classic (2004), the MAC Championship Game (2005), the Poinsettia Bowl (2006) and the Independence Bowl.
Northern Illinois is picked to finish anywhere from second to fifth in the MAC West with most "experts" putting the Huskies in the third or fourth spot. In the poll of MAC coaches, the Huskies were tabbed as the West's number three team. Western Michigan, which comes to DeKalb Oct. 3 for the Huskies' MAC opener, and Central Michigan are the West Division favorites with CMU the pick of the coaches. NIU closes out the 2009 regular season versus the Chippewas in Mt. Pleasant.
Early Honor Roll
A handful of Huskies have garnered most of the preseason recognition this summer, led by kicker Mike Salerno and offensive lineman Jason Onyebuagu, who were both named first-team preseason All-MAC by Phil Steele's Magazine, CBSSports.com and rivals.com. Center Eddie Adamski joined them on the rivals.com team with Brandon Bice and sophomore offensive tackle Trevor Olson on that site's second team list. Steele had Adamski and Olson as second-team All-MAC with Bice on his third team.
NIU senior Mike Salerno is one of just 30 kickers in the country, and one of just two in the Mid-American Conference, named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the nation's best kicker. Salerno made 18-of-24 field goals and all 34 of his extra points a year ago while leading the MAC with 16 touchbacks and a 64.5-yard kickoff average.
The Center of It All
Huskie center Eddie Adamski, a three-year, 37-game starter, made the 2009 preseason watch list for the Rimington Award, presented annually to the nation's best center. Adamski was one of three MAC centers named to the original list back in May. In addition, Adamski has been nominated for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award, which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement While Staying in School, recognizes student-athletes for great achievement during competition and in their community while staying in school for four years.
Good Works Nominee
Senior safety David Bryant is Northern Illinois' 2009 nominee for the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Award. A leader on the field and off, who led his team to a victory in the Huskies' annual "Warrior Elite" competition, Bryant hopes to follow in the footsteps of Matt Simon, who became NIU's first Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team member a year ago. Just 11 Division I players are named to the elite team, which honors players' commitment to community service.
In its first season under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois made a four-game improvement overall, thanks to winning four more Mid-American Conference games than in 2007. The Huskies' four-game MAC swing ranked as the second-largest in conference improvement in the FBS last year, behind only Ole Miss, which improved its SEC record by five games.
Northern Illinois' greatest turnaround a year ago came on defense, where the Huskies went from allowing 30.8 points per game in 2007 to giving up just 18.0 points per contest last season. The 12.8-point improvement ranked second in the nation. The Huskies finished the season ranked first in the MAC, and among the national Top 20 in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense. NIU allowed opponents 298.5 yards per game in 2008, a difference of almost 136 yards from the previous season.
Been There, Done That
While the Huskies are a young team overall, NIU has a number of players on its 2009 depth chart who have started games during their careers. On offense, the two-deep includes 18 players who have started at least one game for Northern Illinois, including three quarterbacks, three tailbacks, four receivers and three tight ends. The only two offensive positions where the listed starter is "new" are right guard and right tackle, where Joe Pawlak and either Panan Tense or Adam Kiel will make their first starts. On defense, the Huskies feature 12 players who have started games with only nose guard Brian Lawson, middle linebacker Pat Schiller and cornerback Kiaree Daniels scheduled to start for the first time.
Leading the Way
Quarterback Chandler Harnish is back under center for the Huskies in 2009 after leading NIU in passing, rushing and total offense as a redshirt freshman in 2008. His 2,067 yards of total offense established a new school record for a freshman and he also accounted for 12 touchdowns, eight passing. With 539 yards on 118 carries, Harnish became the first quarterback to lead Northern Illinois in rushing since Stacey Robinson in 1990. Meanwhile, Harnish's 1,528 passing yards are the eighth-highest total ever for a MAC freshman.
Share the Ball
Although Northern Illinois' string of nine straight seasons (1999-2007) with a 1,000-yard rusher was snapped, the Huskies relied on seven different backs to total over 2,000 rushing yards on the season. Harnish was one of five Huskies to gain at least 200 yads rushing on the year while his 118 rushes were eight more than Me'co Brown. As a true freshman, Brown totalled 510 yards on 110 carries. His counterpart at tailback, Chad Spann, led the team in yards per carry with 4.9 and in rushing touchdowns with eight. He netted 429 yards on 88 totes.
Huskies on TV
Northern Illinois has become the most televised team in the Mid-American Conference as 53 Huskie games have been broadcast in the last five seasons, including 17 national airings. NIU games were on television 11 times a year ago and the Huskies had a school-record 13 contests aired in 2006. Northern Illinois is scheduled to have at least seven and potentially as many as nine, games broadcast in 2009 with two games on the Big Ten Network, at least three on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and potentially as many as three ESPNU games. NIU is 57-62-1 all-time in televised games.
Back on BTN
The Huskies have appeared on the Big Ten Network in each of the last two seasons as NIU's 2008 season opener versus Minnesota was shown on the fledgling network as was the 2007 Wisconsin game in Madison. Northern Illinois is 0-2 all-time in games shown on the Big Ten Network.
Over the summer, Northern Illinois, through its multimedia rights partner, ISP Sports, extended its agreements with WSCR AM 670 "The Score" and with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, securing the Huskies' presence in the Chicago market for years to come. The Score, which will carry NIU football and men's basketball games, as well as the Huskies' weekly 30-minute coaches' radio show, is a 50,000-watt station that can be heard in as many as 38 states. In addition to producing a minimum of three football games per year, Comcast SportsNet Chicago airs the Huskies' weekly sports highlight show, "Inside Huskie Sports." The network, which can be seen throughout Illinois, as well as parts of Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, is scheduled to air the Huskies' first three home games in 2009.
Rookies to Remember
The names of 13 members of Northern Illinois' 2009 recruiting class are listed on the Huskies' depth chart going into the season. That includes four offensive players, eight on defense and punter Josh Wilber. While none of those players are currently listed as a starter, most are expected to see action. Freshmen receivers Martel Moore and Perez Ashford are coming off impressive showings in preseason camp, while center Jared Volk got plenty of reps to make a bid for playing time. On the defensive side, three linebackers - Tyrone Clark, Jordan Delegal and Devon Butler - could see their first collegiate action, corners Sean Evans and Chris Smith are both listed as back-up corners, and coaches have raved about defensive end Alan Baxter.
Huskie Book Club
In addition to practicing, working out, eating, sleeping and meeting, the Huskies found time to take on another project during preseason camp as the team collectively read Tony Dungy's book "Uncommon" during camp. Head Coach Jerry Kill led team discussions on chapters of the book as he continues to educate his student-athletes on topics that go beyond football.
One of the most significant improvements for the Northern Illinois football program this offseason came immediately after spring football with the installation of brand new FieldTurf at Huskie Stadium. The new surface replaced the eight-year old FieldTurf which had significantly worn down with constant use. The FieldTurf replacement was completed in early June.
After completing his stellar career at Northern Illinois as the Huskies' record-holder in career, single season and single game quarterback sacks and tackles for loss, Larry English went on to become the highest draft choice in NIU history when he was selected with the 16th pick in the first round by the San Diego Chargers. English left an indelible mark on the 2009 team as his practice habits, leadership skills and toughness were on display to the Huskies' young players on a daily basis. Replacing him will fall to a group of players including Brandon Bice, Jake Coffman and Sean Progar.
Huskies in the Pros
Larry English was not the only 2008 NIU senior in an NFL training camp this summer as receivers Matt Simon and Britt Davis hooked on as free agents with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets, respectively. Simon, Davis and English joined Dallas Cowboys Sam Hurd and Doug Free, running backs Garrett Wolfe of the Chicago Bears and Michael Turner of the Falcons, Colts' lineman Ryan Diem, Hollis Thomas (Rams) and Jake Nordin (Vikings) as Huskies in NFL camps this summer.
The NIU-Wisconsin game will be televised on the Big Ten Network (check local listings for channel information). Wayne Larrivee will call the play-by-play while Chris Martin is the analyst and Charissa Thompson handles sideline duties. For complete game highlights as well as commentary from Head Coach Jerry Kill and special features, watch "Inside Huskie Sports" weekly on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and on my Network TV in Rockford. The 30-minute highlight show will air this Friday, Sept. 4 at 4:30 p.m. on Comcast and then on subsequent Thursdays at times to be announced. In Rockford, catch IHS at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays on myNetworkTV. Fans are also invited to the live taping of the show Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at Fatty's Pub and Grille, 1312 West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.
The Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network consists of three stations for 2009: WSCR "The Score" AM 670 (Chicago), WTMJ-AM ESPN 1380 (Beloit, Wisc.) and the flagship station, WLBK-AM (1360) in DeKalb. Due to a White Sox conflict on WSCR this week, the NIU-Wisconsin game will be joined IN PROGRESS on The Score following the conclusion of their White Sox coverage. The broadcast kicks off with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. Hall of Famer Bill Baker enters his 30th year as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and he is joined in the booth by 25-year veteran Mark Lindo and fourth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler. In 2009, all three NIU ISP Sports Network stations will carry "NIU Live," the weekly 30-minute radio show that is all about Huskie Sports. Director of Athletics Jeff Compher joins host Andy Garcia and Huskie coaches for the show, which airs Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. on WLBK and most Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on The Score.
To hear every Huskie Radio Network broadcast and SEE live video of select NIU games, sign up for the Huskie All Access package at www.niuhuskies.com. Purchase the monthly package for $6.95 or a year-long pass for $49.95. Fans can also enjoy more free content than ever before including Inside Huskie Sports, Coach Jerry Kill's weekly and post-game press conferences and special events. Also go to www.niuhuskies.com for the latest statistics, feature stories, player Q&As as well as weekly and daily updates. Everything you need to know about all Huskie Athletics is at www.niuhuskies.com.