Huskies Close Out Non-Conference Schedule at Home Versus Idaho

GO HUSKIES Justin Anderson
GO HUSKIES
Justin Anderson
GO HUSKIES

Sept. 22, 2009

Northern Illinois Football 2009
GAME 4 -- Idaho (2-1) at Northern Illinois (2-1)
Sept. 26, 2009 - 2:30 pm (CDT) DeKalb, Ill. - Huskie Stadium (24,000)
RADIO -- WSCR AM 670 (Chicago), WLBK AM 1360 (DeKalb), WTJK AM 1380 (Janesville, Wisc.)

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Huskie Facts
2009 Record: 2-1
2009 MAC Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Jerry Kill
Alma Mater/Year: Southwestern (KS)/1983
Record at NIU/Year: 8-8/2nd
Career Record/Year: 112-65/16th
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Enrollment: 24,397
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 & Results

Vandals' Facts
2009 Record: 2-1
WAC Record: 1-0
Head Coach: Robb Akey
Alma Mater/Year: Eastern Kentucky/1981
Record at Idaho/Year: 5-22/3rd
Career Record/Year: 36-23/6th
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Enrollment: 11,470
Conference: Western Athletic
Colors: Silver and Vandal Gold
Stadium: Kibbie Dome
Surface/Capacity: RealGrass Pro/16,000
Chancellor: Steven Daley-Laursen
Athletic Director; Rob Spear
Ticket Information: (208) 885-6466

Idaho 2009 Schedule & Results

NIU HEAD COACH Jerry Kill
In his 16th season as a college head coach and his second season at Northern Illinois, Jerry Kill owns a career record of 112-65-0 for a winning percentage of .633. 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.

HUSKIE NEWS & NOTES

Non-Con Finale
Northern Illinois completes the non-conference portion of its 2009 schedule as the Idaho Vandals visit DeKalb for the first time since 1974. Northern Illinois is coming off a huge upset win over Purdue, while Idaho also brings a 2-1 mark into the game after defeating San Diego State at home last weekend. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday; Comcast SportsNet Chicago will televise the game, which will also be available nationally through the ESPN GamePlan package.

The Time for Kill
In his second season at the helm of the NIU program, Head Coach Jerry Kill engineered the Huskies' first win over a Big Ten team in 21 years last week to even his record at Northern Illinois at 8-8. Kill led Northern Illinois to a four-game improvement and a spot in the 2008 Independence Bowl last season. 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 in his 16th season as a collegiate head coach, owns a record of 112-65 and a winning percentage of .633.

1,000th Game
Northern Illinois plays its 1,000th intercollegiate game this Saturday to become just the third Mid-American Conference team to hit that milestone. Miami (Ohio) is the "oldest" MAC team with 1,075 games, followed by Ohio with 1,051. After NIU, Akron will be the next league team to hit 1,000 as they enter this week at 985. Nationally, there are 67 teams that have played 1,000 intercollegiate games with the Huskies, Rice and New Mexico State all reaching the mark this Saturday. NIU, which played its first game in 1899, has an all-time winning percentage of .522.

Versus the Vandals
While the Huskies had never played Purdue before last week, the Huskies and Vandals have met five times previously, with NIU winning three of those games, including the most recent game in Moscow in 2007. The teams played four times between 1969 and 1975 with each team winning its two home games before the Huskies broke that trend two years ago with a 42-35 win in the Kibbie Dome.

The Last Time
Current San Diego Charger Larry English led the way as Northern Illinois used big plays on offense, defense and special teams to build a 35-7 halftime lead and then hung on to earn a 42-35 win over the Vandals on Sept. 22, 2007. English was named the national player of the week after totaling five quarterback sacks, 12 tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble for a touchdown. Justin Anderson ran for 167 yards and a touchdown, and the Huskies also scored on a 95-yard interception return by Chase Carter, a blocked punt and a 59-yard pass play.

Ways of the WAC
Northern Illinois is 9-14 all-time versus the nine teams that currently make up the Western Athletic Conference, including the 3-2 mark versus Idaho and a 1-6 record against its 2008 Independence Bowl opponent, Louisiana Tech. The Huskies played nine games, and went 4-5, versus current WAC teams La Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State during NIU's short-lived tenure in the Big West Conference from 1993-95.

Big Win
Last week, the Huskies broke a 19-game losing streak versus teams from the Big Ten Conference that dated back to Sept. 17, 1998 with a 28-21 upset victory over Purdue in front of 53,240 at Ross-Ade Stadium. After falling behind 7-0 on a punt return touchdown, the Huskies controlled the game, racking up 454 yards of total offense, including 280 on the ground, while holding the ball for 41:40 to Purdue's 18:20. NIU took a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter, then withstood a rally by the Boilermakers and, with the aid of an 11-yard pick-up run on a fake punt, ran out the clock to get the victory.

One for the Boneyard
NIU's win over Purdue qualified as a "boneyard" victory which will be commemorated on the wall in the Huskies' home locker room. Wins over Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from BCS automatic qualifying conferences are designated as boneyard games. NIU's win over Purdue, just its second win ever over a Big Ten foe, was the first addition to the Huskie boneyard since 2003, when the Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State games all made the wall.

Key Call
Northern Illinois' win over Purdue was sealed by a great call by the Huskie coaching staff with 3:44 remaining in the game and NIU clinging to a 28-21 lead. The Huskies faced fourth-and-two on their own 16-yard line as they lined up in punt formation. Instead of giving the Boilermakers the ball back in field position to make a game-tying drive, Nolan Owen snapped the ball to up-back Justin Anderson, who went right for 11 yards and the first down. The play energized the Huskies and demoralized Purdue, as NIU ran for two more first downs. When PU did get the ball back, they were on their own 20-yard line with only 18 seconds on the clock. Said Kill after the game about the play: "A call like that a lot of times can get you fired, but our staff and I made the call. We have worked on that play for a few weeks now. It was one of the more gutsy calls I have made in my career."

Career Day
Sophomore Me'co Brown ran for a career-high 150 yards on 26 carries versus Purdue to record his second straight 100-yard rushing game and the fourth of his career. The Mississippi native gave NIU the lead with a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for his second TD of the season to earn Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honors. His 150-yard effort was the most by a Huskie back since Justin Anderson ran for 163 versus Temple on Oct. 6, 2007. Brown also caught a pair of passes for 22 yards to finish with 172 all-purpose yards.

League Leader
With his effort Saturday, Brown took over as the leading rusher in the Mid-American Conference as he is averaging 110.3 yards per game with 331 net yards on 51 carries. Brown has had long runs of 60 and 67 yards in the Huskies' last two games to up his per carry average to 6.5. He ranks 14th nationally in rushing yards. As a true freshman last year, Brown gained 510 yards in 13 games; he is already 65 percent of the way to that total in 2009.

In a Rush
After rushing for 244 and 280 yards in the last two games, Northern Illinois has returned to the top of the MAC leader board in rushing offense. The Huskies currently rank 24th in the country in rushing offense with an average of 208.0 yards per game. NIU's tailback duo of Me'co Brown and Chad Spann have combined for 468 yards, or 75 percent of the team's total.

Spann in the (End) Zone
Chad Spann continues to find the end zone as the sophomore from Indianapolis scored a pair of touchdowns - on runs of one and 11 yards - to up his TD total to seven on the season while also collected a season-high 80 yards. Spann ranks tied for second in the country in total touchdowns and is tied for third in scoring average. He leads the MAC in both categories. A former walk-on, Spann led the Huskies in touchdowns a year ago with eight and is within one of that total in just three games this season. He scored his first career receiving touchdown versus WIU on a 20-yard reception from Chandler Harnish.

Seniors Step Up
A pair of seniors made a big impact in the Purdue game as Marcus Lewis led the Huskies in receiving with four catches for 49 yards, while tight end Reed Cunningham returned to the starting line-up, scoring a touchdown on his first catch of the year. Lewis has enjoyed a resurgence this season after catching just one pass for seven yards in five games a year ago. With six catches in 2009, Lewis has already matched his single season high, while his 68 receiving yards tie his career best single season total. In addition, Lewis' 28-yard reception at Purdue tied his career-long grab.

Youngsters
When Jerry Kill calls his 2009 team "youngsters," the Huskie head coach is not exaggerating. Thirty-six players on this year's roster are new to the team, while another 19 entered the season having never played a down for the Huskies. Those 55 players make up half of NIU's 110-man roster. Among that group of 55 virtual "rookies," 19 are on the NIU depth chart this week, five on offense, 12 on defense and two specialists.

Getting Defensive
After limiting Western Illinois to only seven points and 223 yards in the game, including just 54 second-half yards, the Huskie defense was even better against Purdue, which entered the game with the nation's leading rusher in Ralph Bolden. The Boilermakers totaled just four first downs and 74 first-half yards (36 rushing and 38 passing) before finishing the game with 335.

Huskie Debuts
Fourteen (14) players who had never seen action in a Northern Illinois game before made their debuts at Wisconsin, another eight (8) newcomers saw their first action as Huskies in the Western Illinois game and Nick Groeniger was added to the list versus Purdue. The 2009 rookies by position (* indicates started; true freshmen underlined, 2009 signees in italics): DL (5) - Alan Baxter, Brian Lawson*, Sean Progar, Darnell Bolding, Nabal Jefferson LB (4) - Jordan Delegal, Victor Jacques, Tyrone Clark, Devon Butler DB (4) - Chris Smith*, Tommy Davis, Rashaan Melvin, Garrett Barnas WR (3) - Perez Ashford*, Martel Moore*, Matt Ng TE (1) - Jack Marks OL (2) - Keith Otis, Logan Pegram RB (2) - Pat McAvoy, Nick Groeniger Spec. Teams (2) - Josh Wilber, Dan Edem

The Staff Is Back
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.

Starters By Class
The Huskies started a season-high six seniors versus Purdue as receiver Preston Williams earned the first start of his Huskie career and Reed Cunningham got the nod as NIU came out in a two tight-end set. They joined offensive linemen Eddie Adamski and Jason Onyebuagu, defensive end Brandon Bice and weak side linebacker Cory Hanson as senior starters last Saturday. The Huskie starting offense is dominated by sophomores, while the defense features more juniors than any other group as well as the only freshman in the group in nose guard Brian Lawson. NIU's offensive and defensive starters by class versus Purdue:

 Fr.Soph.Jr.Sr.
Offense0704
Defense 1262

The Wilson Report
In his first year as a full-time starter, safety Tracy Wilson has led Northern Illinois in tackles in each of the first three games to total a team-leading 29 stops on the season. Wilson turned in the first two double-digit tackle games of his career versus Wisconsin (11) and Western Illinois (10). Wilson needs only 14 tackles to equal his 2008 13-game total of 43 tackles.

E.A. and J.O.
The Huskie offensive line has been built around a pair of seniors in center Eddie Adamski, a member of the Rimington Award Watch List, and guard Jason Onyebuagu, who was named the NIU offensive lineman of the week following the Purdue game. Fifth-year senior Adamski ranks as NIU's most experienced player, starting all 40 of the games he has played over the last four years, while four-year man Onyebuagu has seen action in all 41 of the Huskies' games and started 28. In his home state last weekend, Onyebuagu tallied four bonus blocks and graded out at 100 percent for effort and 97 percent for efficiency while leading the Huskies' potent rushing attack.

Turnover Tale
Northern Illinois won the turnover battle for the third straight game at Purdue and is tied for first in the MAC in turnover margin with a +4 mark. NIU has eight takeaways (six fumbles and two interceptions) and four giveaways (three fumbles and one INT) so far this year. The Huskies recovered three Boilermaker fumbles, including two by the punt coverage unit.

Big Foot
NIU senior Mike Salerno is one of just 30 kickers in the country and two in the Mid-American Conference named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List, honoring the nation's best kicker. In 2009, Salerno has made four of his five field goal attempts and had a string of 10 consecutive broken at Purdue. He is averaging 65.7 yards on kickoffs this season. For his career, Salerno is 22-of-29 on field goals and 43-of-43 on PATs.

Onside Expert
In addition to his accuracy and kickoff prowess, Mike Salerno has become an expert "onside" kicker. Salerno has attempted five onside kicks over the last two years and Northern Illinois has recovered four of them, including in the fourth quarter of this year's Wisconsin game. The Huskies recovered back-to-back onside kicks in last year's Central Michigan game as NIU came back from a 30-6 deficit late in the third quarter to force overtime.

Turnovers In Twos
Safety Mike Sobol forced a pair of fumbles in the Western Illinois game which Northern Illinois recovered and turned into touchdowns. His first force came just one play after NIU had fumbled, while his third-quarter play led to the score that put the game away. Sobol's effort followed that of linebacker Cory Hanson, who picked off two passes in the Wisconsin game. Hanson was the first NIU player to record two INTs in a game since Dustin Utschig picked off two passes versus Toledo in 2005.

Scorching Start
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish opened the Western Illinois game by hitting each of his first eight passes as he did not throw an incompletion until the Huskies' first drive of the second half. Harnish completed all seven of his first-half throws for 98 yards and two scores while rushing for 22 yards on five carries. He finished the game a workmanlike 10-of-14 passing for 143 yards, no INTs and two TDs.

MAC Honors
NIU kicker Mike Salerno and linebacker Cory Hanson picked up MAC West Specialist and Defensive Player of the week honors, respectively, following the Wisconsin game. Salerno connected on field goals of 40 and 29 yards in the first half and gave Northern Illinois a chance to tie the game with a successful onside kick. Hanson picked off two passes and made three tackles at UW with his second INT setting up the Huskies' second score. It was the first career MAC weekly honor for Hanson and the second for Salerno.

Postseason Regulars
Over the last five years, Northern Illinois has made four postseason appearances, more than any other team in the MAC. Last year, the Huskies added to 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 also has played in the Silicon Valley Classic (2004), the MAC Championship Game (2005) and the Poinsettia Bowl (2006).

Preseason Picks
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. Central Michigan and Western Michigan, who come to DeKalb Oct. 3 for the Huskies' MAC opener, 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.

Dominating Defense
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.

Huskies on TV
Northern Illinois has become the most televised team in the MAC as 54 Huskie games have been broadcast in the last five seasons, including 18 nationally. NIU was on television 11 times in 2008 and the Huskies had a school-record 13 contests aired in 2006. The school will have at least seven and as many as nine games broadcast in 2009 with two on the Big Ten Network, at least three on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and as many as three ESPNU games. NIU is 59-63-1 all-time on TV.

Excellent Exposure
Over the summer, Northern Illinois, through its new multimedia rights partner, ISP Sports, extended its agreements with WSCR AM 670 "The Score" and 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 radio show, is a 50,000-watt station that can be heard in 38 states. In addition to producing at least three football games a year, Comcast SportsNet Chicago airs the Huskies' weekly highlight show, "Inside Huskie Sports." The network is carried throughout Illinois, as well as in parts of Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Big Improvement
One of the most significant improvements for the Northern Illinois football program this offseason came with the installation of new FieldTurf at Huskie Stadium. The surface replaced the eight-year old FieldTurf which had significantly worn down with constant use. The FieldTurf replacement was completed in early June.

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 squad, which honors players' for community service.

Turnaround Team
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.

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 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.

Huskies in the Pros
Larry English, who became the highest draft choice in NIU history when he was selected the 16th pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, 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 and Hollis Thomas (Rams) on opening day NFL rosters. 2008 senior receiver Matt Simon was signed to the New Orleans Saints' practice squad.

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 freshman school record and he 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. His 1,528 passing yards rank as the eighth-most ever for a MAC freshman.

Share the Ball
Although Northern Illinois' string of nine straight seasons (1999-2007) with a 1,000-yard rusher ended last year, the Huskies relied on seven different backs to total over 2,000 rushing yards. Harnish was one of five Huskies to gain at least 200 yards rushing, and his 118 rushes were eight more than Me'co Brown. As a true freshman, Brown totalled 510 yards on 110 carries. 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.

Early Honor Roll
Several Huskies garnered 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.

HUSKIE MULTIMEDIA

Television
The NIU-Idaho game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet Chicago and will be available nationwide (except in Chicago) as part of the ESPN GamePlan package. Dave Kaplan of Comcast and WGN Radio will call the play-by-play with former college and prep coach Bob Chmiel alongside as the analyst. Jim Blaney handles sideline duties.

For game highlights as well as commentary from Head Coach Jerry Kill, watch "Inside Huskie Sports" weekly on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and on my Network TV in Rockford. Beginning this week, the 30-minute highlight show will air each Thursday at 4 p.m on CSN. 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.

Radio
The Northern Illinois ISP Sports Network consists of three stations for 2009: WSCR "The Score" AM 670 (Chicago), WTJK-AM ESPN 1380 (Janesville, Wisc.) and the flagship station, WLBK-AM (1360) in DeKalb.

This week, the broadcast kicks off with the pregame show at 2 p.m. Hall of Famer Bill Baker enters his 30th year as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and 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 also 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 Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on The Score.

Online
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. 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.

 

 

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