Oct. 11, 2011
Complete Release in PDF Format
2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
Western Michigan (4-2, 2-0) at Northern Illinois (3-3, 1-1)
Oct. 15, 2011 | 2:30 p.m. | Comcast SportsNet Chicago
DeKalb, Ill. | Huskie Stadium | 24,000
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 3-3/1-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 3-3/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 515-463-51
Last Bowl Game: NIU 40, Fresno State 17
2010 uDrove Humanitarian Bowl; Boise, Idaho
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 47/25
Starters Returning: 11 (8 offense, 3 defense, 0 specialists)
Starters Lost: 13 (4 offense, 9 defense, 3 specialists)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FACTS
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll 67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater, Year: James Madison '80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
2011 NIU SCHEDULE
WESTERN MICHIGAN FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 4-2/2-0
2010 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 6-6/5-3/3rd West
Head Coach: Bill Cubit
Alma Mater/Year: Delaware '75
Record at WMU/Year: 44-35/7th
Career Record/Year: 78-53-1/12th
Location: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Colors: Brown & Gold
Stadium: Waldo Stadium
President: Dr. John M. Dunn
Athletic Director: Kathy Beauregard
Ticket Information: 269-387-8092; 1-888-4-WMU-TIX
Athletics Website: www.wmubroncos.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Mat Kanan
Phone: 269-387-4125 (O); 269-998-2259 (C)
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
2011 WMU SCHEDULE
Overall: WMU leads 23-13
In DeKalb: WMU leads 11-7
In MAC Games: WMU leads 14-11
Streak: NIU, 2
NIU HEAD COACH Dave Doeren
Dave Doeren, a 16-year collegiate coaching veteran who has helped take teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests, was named the 21st head football coach in NIU history on Dec. 13, 2010. After winning his first game as the head coach of the Huskies, Doeren's career and NIU record now stands at 3-3. Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin. After spending two seasons as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, he added defensive coordinator duties in January 2008. During Doeren's time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-16 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl. In 2010, UW posted an 11-2 record, won a share of the Big Ten title and played TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl. Doeren's UW defenses were consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation and while there he coached players like current National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions. Most recently, defensive end J.J. Watt was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Doeren arrived at UW after four seasons (2002-05) at the University of Kansas. He was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for his first three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2005. Prior to his time at Kansas, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA FCS power Montana for two seasons. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in his time there. He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers, before becoming defensive coordinator in 1997. A four-year letterwinner at Drake (1990-93), Doeren earned Academic All-America honors as a senior and graduated with a bachelor's degree in pre-medical biology and a master's in educational leadership. He and his wife, Sara, have three sons - Jacob, Luke and Connor.
Watch WMU-NIU on CSN Chicago
Comcast SportsNet Chicago will televise the Northern Illinois-Western Michigan game to its coverage area, which includes all of Illinois as well as parts of Indiana and Iowa. In addition, the game can be seen in the rest of the country on ESPN GamePlan and online at WatchESPN.com. Veteran Chicago broadcaster Dave Kaplan calls the action with former college assistant and prep coach Bob Chmiel alongside as the color analyst. The game will also be available on Huskies All-Access.
Listen to NIU-WMU on the NIU Radio Network
The Northern Illinois Radio Network, presented by IMG College, will bring Huskie fans live game action on these stations in 2011:
WLBK AM 1360 (DeKalb) - FLAGSHIP
WTJK ESPN 1380 AM (Janesville, WI-Rockford)
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
WSCR670 AM The Score (Chicago)
Each week, the broadcast kicks off with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to kick off. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is in his 32nd season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 27th year as NIU's color analyst, and sixth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.
"Inside Huskie Football" Radio Show
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren joins host Bill Baker and other special guests on the "Inside Huskie Football" radio show each Thursday from 7-8 p.m. during the 2011 season. The show takes place live at Cabana Charley's in Sycamore and fans are invited to attend. Hear the show live on WLBK 1360 AM DeKalb and on NIU Radio Network affiliate ESPN1380AM in Janesville, Wis. The 2011 dates for the show are Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27; and Nov. 3, 10 and 22.
"NIU Weekly" Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches for "NIU Weekly" on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago. The 30-minute show features a weekly interview with head football coach Dave Doeren as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. The show will air every Saturday morning from 7:30-8 a.m.
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and "Inside Huskie Football," and watch the Cal Poly, Kent State and Western Michigan games live on Huskies All-Access at www.NIUHuskies.com. All-Access subscribers pay just $6.95/month or $49.95/year to receive all NIU radio game and show broadcasts, as well as select football and all home basketball, volleyball and men's and women's soccer games as well as home gymnastics and wrestling meets. Subscribers also have access to Coach Doeren's weekly press conferences and special video features.
The best source for all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more is NIUHuskies.com. The Huskies' official athletics website includes video, links to live stats coverage, complete bios on Huskie players and coaches and archives.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS NEWS & NOTES
#MAC West Clash
Northern Illinois and Western Michigan face off at Huskie Stadium Saturday in a key Mid-American Conference West Division battle. The game features two of the most potent offenses in the league, each led by a premiere quarterback. Both teams are coming off of home victories versus East Division foes. The Huskies are looking to extend their Huskie Stadium winning streak to 13 games while celebrating Homecoming Weekend on the NIU campus.
#Huskie Homecoming History
Northern Illinois celebrates its 105th Homecoming this weekend as the annual celebration dates back to an alumni football game played on Oct. 10, 1903. NIU's Homecoming is the oldest major college alumni gathering in the state and the Huskies have one of the longest-celebrated Homecoming traditions in the country. All-time, Northern Illinois is 65-29-10 in its Homecoming football games and has won 12 of its last 13 games in front of the alums. In Huskie Stadium, NIU is 31-13-2 in homecoming games.
#A Series of Streaks
Western Michigan leads the all-time series with Northern Illinois 23-13 and the Broncos own an 11-7 edge in games played in DeKalb. The Huskies have won the last two meetings between the teams after WMU claimed three straight wins from 2006-08. That was preceded by five straight NIU wins (2001-2005) and a six-game Broncos' streak from 1991-2000. In MAC games (1975-85, 1997-present), Western Michigan leads the series 14-11. Northern Illinois won just one of the first 10 games played in the series between 1950 and 1982. Since that time, NIU is 12-9 versus WMU overall and is 7-4 in games played in DeKalb. The Broncos' last win in DeKalb was a 17-13 victory in 2007.
#A Narrow Escape
A year ago in Kalamazoo, Northern Illinois earned a hard-fought 28-21 win over Western Michigan that was not secured until NIU defensive end Jake Coffman intercepted Alex Carder on the Huskie 12-yard line with 39 seconds to play. On its previous possession, Northern Illinois scored the game-winning touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Chandler Harnish to Willie Clark to complete a seven-play, 79-yard drive. Harnish hit Nathan Palmer with a two-point conversion pass to put the Huskies ahead by seven. The NIU defense twice stopped WMU on fourth-down plays inside the Huskie red zone in the second half, tailback Chad Spann rushed for 146 yards on 22 carries and Harnish completed 18-of-30 passes for 214 yards as NIU won its sixth-straight game in what would be its toughest test of the MAC regular season.
#Doeren's Debut Season
Northern Illinois Coach Dave Doeren is 3-3 in his first stint as a head coach after spending 16 seasons on the sidelines as a collegiate assistant. The 21st head football coach in NIU history, and the 10th since Northern Illinois joined the major college ranks in 1969, Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin (2006-10), where he was linebackers coach and defensive coordinator (see bio next page).
#Home Field Advantage
All-time, Northern Illinois is 143-97-2 at Huskie Stadium since its opening in 1965. NIU owns a .595 winning percentage at home, including a 53-17 mark (a .757 winning percentage) in its last 70 DeKalb contests and a 37-11 record since 2003. Northern Illinois went undefeated (5-0) on Brigham Field a year ago and has won 12 straight games at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies' last home loss was on Sept. 26, 2009 when Idaho claimed a 34-31 victory in DeKalb.
#Streaking in the Stadium
Northern Illinois' 12-game winning streak at Huskie Stadium is the school's longest since the school-record 14-straight home victories between Nov. 5, 1988 and Sept. 14, 1991. NIU has also won nine straight Mid-American Conference games in DeKalb, dating back to a 33-30 overtime loss to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008. The current streak began on Oct. 3, 2009 with a 38-6 win over Western Michigan. The Huskies went on to defeat Akron, Eastern Michigan and Ball State at home that season, then posted a perfect 5-0 record at Huskie Stadium a year ago. NIU has defeated Army, Cal Poly and Kent State at home this season.
Northern Illinois is in its 26th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2011. The Huskies earned their 100th win as a MAC team in the final regular season league outing last year with a 71-3 win at Eastern Michigan. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 101-90-2 all-time and the Huskies are 66-45 (.595) in conference games since rejoining the MAC in 1997. NIU is playing its 15th consecutive campaign as a member of the MAC and also competed as a league member from 1975-85.
At home, Northern Illinois is 58-38-1 (.603) all-time in Mid-American Conference games with a 37-19 (.661) mark versus its league counterparts in Huskie Stadium since 1997. The Huskies have won 12 of their last 13 and nine straight league home games. NIU's only home league loss over the last four seasons came in overtime to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008.
#Recapping Kent State
Northern Illinois used a dominating defensive performance that included eight quarterback sacks, to earn a 40-10 home win over Kent State last Saturday at Huskie Stadium. Defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson opened the scoring by intercepting a KSU screen pass and taking it in for the score, and the Huskies gave up just 64 total yards on 62 plays in the game. NIU scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns on a three-yard pass play from Chandler Harnish to Martel Moore and a 26-yard Harnish run to open a 21-3 lead, and kicker Mathew Sims booted four field goals. Kent State converted just one of 16 third-down plays and NIU earned its first MAC win of 2011.
#If You're Counting
The Western Michigan game will be the 1,030th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 516th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, in 2009 and has a 515-463-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .525. Over the past 11 seasons (since 2000), Northern Illinois is 82-59 (.582) with nine winning campaigns to record the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois.
#Honoring the Past
NIU will honor the 1963 Huskie National Champion Football team by raising a banner atop a 63-foot permanent flag pole outside Huskie Stadium prior to Saturday's game. Members of the 1963 team, including all-time great and College Football Hall of Famer George Bork, will be in attendance for the flag raising ceremony, which will begin at Noon. The flag pole is located just outside the gates at the southwest corner of Huskie Stadium and can be seen clearly from inside the stadium. The 1963 NIU team posted a perfect 10-0-0 record, capped by a victory over Southwest Missouri State in the Mineral Water Bowl, to claim the College Division Championship.
#Back to September
Northern Illinois posted a 2-2 record in non-conference play for the third straight season as NIU completed its 2011 non-league slate in the first four weeks of the year. The Huskies won their season opener for the first time since 2003 with a 49-26 victory over Army, then dropped a 45-42 decision at Kansas when the Jayhawks scored on fourth and goal with nine seconds left in the game. The Huskies ran into a powerful Wisconsin team in Chicago and fell to the No. 7 ranked Badgers 49-7 in Soldier Field Showdown II before defeating Cal Poly 47-30 in the non-conference finale to reach the 2-2 mark.
Northern Illinois has 36 Chicagoland natives on its 110-man roster in 2011. NIU's Chicago contingent includes starters Da'Ron Brown, Jack Marks, Joe Pawlak, Keith Otis and Willie Clark on offense, along with Alan Baxter, Ron Newcomb, Nabal Jefferson, Sean Progar, Pat Schiller and Rashaan Melvin on defense.
#Forty is the New 30
With two of the most potent offenses in the MAC set to meet at Huskie Stadium Saturday, another 40-point performance by one or both teams is certainly in play. Already this year, Northern Illinois and its opponents have combined to post more than 40 points eight times, including five 40-point performances by the Huskies and three by opponents. That is the most combined 40 point games in NIU's history as a Major College team (since 1969). Only twice during that time have NIU and its opponents combined for seven 40-point games - in 1995 (1 by NIU/6 by opponents), 2000 (6 by NIU/1 by opp.) and 2002 (5 by NIU/2 by opp.). A year ago, Northern Illinois hit the 40-point mark six times (none by opponents).
Despite its proximity to the state and the fact that Northern Illinois faces at least three teams from Michigan every year, the Huskies' 2011 roster includes just two players from the state in Grand Rapids native DeMarcus Grady and redshirt freshman defensive back Zak Giller of Chelsea. Grady, a senior who has transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver in 2011, after playing both football and basketball for the Huskies last year, has caught two passes for 51 yards on the season. He has played in 25 games during his Huskie career.
Once again there will be a Sabock on each sideline Saturday as NIU student coach Kevin Sabock, who assists the Huskies' defensive staff, will greet his father, former NIU assistant coach Mike, from across the field. The elder Sabock spent 24 years at Northern Illinois, coaching defensive backs, outside linebackers, tight ends and defensive ends at different times during his NIU tenure, which began in 1984. Following the retirement of former Huskie head man Joe Novak following the 2007 season, Sabock moved to WMU where he coaches running backs and special teams. The younger Sabock signed with NIU out of high school, but a knee injury during 2008 bowl practices ended his playing career.
Huskie senior Ron Newcomb, who entered the Kent State game with one career sack and six tackles for loss, spent the day in the KSU backfield as he totaled 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss versus the Golden Flashes. Newcomb had a career high nine tackles to lead NIU, he forced a fumble and blocked a field goal. The Indiana native, who has already posted his career best SEASON with 25 tackles, seven TFLs and 3.5 sacks, was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week.
#A Pretty Good Day
Northern Illinois held Kent State to just 64 total yards on 62 offensive plays Saturday, the lowest total net yards by an NIU opponent since the Huskies joined the Major College (Division I FBS) ranks in 1969. NIU's all-time record for fewest yards of total offense in a game is minus 40 versus Southern Illinois on Oct. 6, 1951. The Flashes' one rushing yard on 38 carries is the lowest total since the Huskies held Miami (Ohio) to a school-record minus 11 rushing yards on Oct. 24, 2009. The 63 passing yards is the fewest since Eastern Michigan tallied just 11 yards through the air last year (Nov. 26, 2010). In addition, Northern Illinois' 15 tackles for loss is the most since NIU had a school-record 16 versus Eastern Michigan in 2002 (11-16), while the 84 yards lost is the most ever by an NIU defense, breaking the old record of minus 80 yards versus Wisconsin (9-14-02). The Huskies' eight sacks were the most by NIU since Oct. 24, 2009 versus Miami, when NIU totaled eight sacks.
#He's Got Legs
Chandler Harnish became only the second Huskie quarterback all-time to rush for 2,000 career yards when he passed the mark with a team-leading 65 yards on 11 carries versus Kent State. Harnish, who now ranks 13th on NIU's all-time rushing list with 2,046 yards on 412 carries, joined Stacey Robinson (2,727 yards on 428 carries from 1988-90) in the quarterbacks' 2,000-yard club. Harnish also scored his seventh rushing TD of 2011 on a 26-yard run versus KSU, giving him 20 career rushing scores. He ranks 10th in career rushing scores and has already matched his single season career high with rushing TDs in five of the Huskies' six games this year.
#Among the Best
Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish currently ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision best in passing efficiency (20th), points responsible for (9th) and total offense (21st). In six games, Harnish has accounted for 116 points with seven rushing and 12 passing touchdowns. His total offense average of 297.67 yards per game is 21st in the country, while his passing efficiency mark of 158.33 is currently 20th among NCAA FBS quarterbacks. Harnish has been responsible for at least three touchdowns in four of the Huskies' six games this season.
#Charting Chandler at CMU
As a redshirt freshman starting his first career game at Minnesota in 2008, Chandler Harnish threw for 326 yards on 17-of-29 passing. Versus Central Michigan on Oct. 1, 2011 - 36 games and 34 starts later - Harnish surpassed that mark with a 370 passing yards as he completed 27-of-50 passes. The 370 yards rank sixth all-time at NIU, while 27 completions tied the career-best mark he set versus Kansas earlier this year and are fifth on the single-game list. The 50 pass attempts by Harnish at CMU also rank fifth on the single-game list. Harnish's 462 yards of total offense (370 pass, 92 rush) are the second-most ever by an NIU player, topped only by Phil Horvath's 477-yard game versus Akron (Sept. 24, 2005).
Chandler Harnish broke three more Northern Illinois career records against CMU when he completed 27-of-50 passes for 370 yards and ran for 92 yards on 18 carries with three total touchdowns. He broke the mark for career passing yards previously owned by College Football Hall of Famer George Bork, who totaled 6,782 yards from 1960-63; Harnish passed the 7,000-yard mark versus Kent State and now has 7,072 passing yards in his 39-game career. Harnish also set the record for most plays of total offense, surpassing Marshall Taylor's previous record of 1,247 from 1985-88. Finally, his fifth career 300-yard passing game surpassed another of Bork's marks. The three new records came one week after Harnish broke the career touchdowns responsible for record. He set the NIU record for career total offense yards as a junior.
Chandler Harnish began his senior season with a career-best five touchdown passes - thrown to five different receivers - versus Army. His five TD passes were the most by an NIU quarterback since Sept. 17, 2005, when Phil Horvath threw six versus Akron. The performance, which included a one-yard rushing score, earned Harnish his sixth MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honor. He also was selected the MAC Player of the Week by rivals.com.
After scoring 15 points at Central Michigan by making four-of-six field goals, NIU sophomore kicker Mathew Sims went one better by hitting all four of his three-pointers and four PATs versus Kent State for 16 points. Sims, who hit field goals of 31, 32, 44 and 34 yards in the game, was named one of the Lou Groza Award "Stars of the Week." Sims' perfect day tied for the top percentage day in school history and was the first time since 2000 that an NIU kicker went four-for-four or better on threes. Sims has scored a team-leading 56 points on the year on 10 field goals and 26 PATs. He ranks tied for 14th and second in the MAC in field goals and is fourth in the league in scoring.
#Defensive Lineman's Dream
Huskie noseguard Nabal Jefferson fulfilled a defensive lineman's dream Saturday when he picked off an attempted screen pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring versus Kent State. Jefferson's score was the first for the NIU defense this season. A year ago, Northern Illinois returned two interceptions for scores. Two of the Huskies' three pickoffs this year have been by defensive linemen as Zach Anderson (Wisconsin) and Rashaan Melvin (Army) have the other interceptions for NIU.
Twenty-six players have seen their first action as Huskies this year, including true freshmen Tyler Wedel, Jason Meehan, Rob Sterling and Tommylee Lewis. Five redshirt freshmen have made their debuts as starters as Luke Eakes (TE/FB), Da'Ron Brown (WR), Jamaal Bass (LB), Dechane Durante (S) and snapper Brian Mayer have made key contributions. Transfers Jamal Womble (RB), Leighton Settle (RB), Jhony Faustin (DB) and Tim Semisch (TE) have also played their first games as Huskies with Faustin and Semisch earning starts.
#On the Blocks
Northern Illinois blocked a punt and a field goal versus Kent State and the Huskies have now blocked four kicks this season, including three punts. Versus KSU, Dechane Durante became the latest NIU defender to record a punt block, while Ron Newcomb knocked down a late Flashes' field goal attempt. NIU's other punt blocks this season have been by Courtney Stephen, who got his hands on a Cal Poly effort, and Jimmie Ward. Stephen recovered Ward's block versus Army and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. Ward, a sophomore, already has four career punt blocks. A year ago, the Huskies blocked five punts and seven total kicks.
NIU returned one of the top offensive lines in the country with redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) and redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG) returning as a unit for the second straight season. Behind that line, NIU has the No. 1 scoring offense and total offense in the MAC and the Huskies lead the league and rank 19th in the country in fewest sacks allowed. The five veterans up front have made 135 combined starts, led by Olson's 46 (every game of his NIU career) and Pawlak's 33. Otis and Wedige have 20 starts each and Pegram has started 16 contests.
#Senior CLASS Nominee
For the second straight season, a Northern Illinois player has been selected as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for football as NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named to the elite list for 2011. The award honors seniors who have achieved in the community, classroom, character and competition. Harnish, the Huskies' record-setting four-year starting QB, overcame a career-threatening knee injury and has played for three different head coaches and four quarterback coaches during his five seasons with the Huskies. Last year, NIU defensive end and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jake Coffman narrowly lost out on winning the Senior CLASS Award. One of 10 finalists, Coffman was named to the 2010 First Team.
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named a semifinalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy and a candidate for one of 15 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented annually to the top football student-athletes who combine excellence on the field of play with excellence in the classroom. Harnish is one of only 47 Football Bowl Subdivision candidates for the awards. He earned his undergraduate degree in business management from the NIU College of Business last spring with a 3.65 grade point average and is currently pursuing his M.B.A.
True junior Perez Ashford forged to the top of the Huskies' receivng list after making a career-best eight catches for 87 yards at Central Michigan and now has 24 grabs for 289 yards to lead NIU. Ashford entered the 2011 season with 29 career grabs for 289 yards. He has led NIU in receiving in three games, but is one of 14 players to catch passes for Northern Illinois this season.
#Sharing the Wealth
With the addition of Nabal Jefferson and Jordan Lynch last week, 14 different players have scored touchdowns for NIU this season and just three players - Chandler Harnish, Jasmin Hopkins and Martel Moore - have scored multiple times with seven, six and four TDs, respectively. Eight of the Huskies' 14 TD scorers this year have recorded their first career touchdowns.
Back in his familiar middle linebacker position for the first time since 2009, senior Pat Schiller is leading the Huskie defense, and ranks tied for sixth in the MAC, in tackles. Schiller has 48 tackles on the year, already his second best single season total, with 22 solo stops and 26 assists. He has already recorded a career best 6.5 tackles for loss on the season and has 173 career tackles.
#Back in Black
Northern Illinois unveiled new black jerseys versus Kent State and went with an "all black" look for the first time since the early 1990s. The Huskies wore red jerseys with black pants at home throughout the Joe Novak and Jerry Kill eras. The black jerseys featured red panels underneath each arm. NIU has had the jerseys since this summer and head coach Dave Doeren made the decision to break them out to start the October homestand. No word on if the black are here to stay or if the red return for Western Michigan.
After making a name for himself as a true freshman in 2010 as a special teams star with three blocked punts, defensive back Jimmie Ward has become an every down player in the Huskies' defensive backfield at either cornerback or safety. He currently ranks second on the team in tackles with 45. He made a career high and team leading 11 stops versus Wisconsin after making 10 tackles the week before at Kansas. The Alabama native also has a quarterback sack, two tackles for loss, a blocked punt and a pass break up on the season.
#Home SEVEN Home
The 2011 Huskies play seven home games with six at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb and Soldier Field Showdown II versus Wisconsin in Chicago. It is the most home games for Northern Illinois since 2003, when NIU played seven games at Huskie Stadium and went 7-0 in those games en route to a 10-2 record. NIU played five home games a year ago. The Wisconsin game marked NIU's second home game in Chicago; NIU opened the 2007 season versus Iowa at Soldier Field and will return to the venue to open the 2012 season against the Hawkeyes.
Northern Illinois is ranked among the best football programs in the nation according to the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR). NIU's 987 APR for 2009-10 puts the Huskies in elite company, behind only Northwestern (993) and Rutgers (988) and ahead of teams like Duke (986), Stanford (977) and Vanderbilt (977). One of 14 teams in the country to receive an NCAA Public Recognition Award, NIU's APR of 987 is 41 points above the national average. The APR measures the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.
#Novak's Last Class
Of the 19 seniors on Northern Illinois' 2011 roster, 13 are fifth-year players signed as part of former head coach Joe Novak's last signing class. The 13 were on the Huskie team that won just two games in 2007 but are now among a very small group of Northern Illinois players to have played on three bowl teams. Among NIU's 13 fifth-year seniors, 10 are listed as starters and all 13 are on the two-deep. The group includes four players who were on the 2007 team as walk-ons, receiver Willie Clark, offensive guard Joe Pawlak, fullback Pat McAvoy and tight end Jack Marks, along with 46-game starter Trevor Olson at left tackle and four-year starting quarterback Chandler Harnish.
During Soldier Field Showdown II in Chicago, Northern Illinois announced that Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick have made the largest gift ever to Northern Illinois Athletics to name the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center. The Chessicks' $3 million naming gift is the lead donation in the current leadership gift phase of fundraising for the facility. Dr. Kenneth Chessick, a surgeon and attorney who graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Law in 1984 and from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1968, and his wife, Ellen, have devoted themselves to student academic success for many years and have a long history of philanthropic support to NIU.