Nov. 5, 2010
NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES 2010 FOOTBALL
NIU (7-2, 5-0) vs. Toledo (6-3, 5-0)
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 | 6 p.m. (CT) | ESPN2
DeKalb, Ill. | Huskie Stadium | 24,000
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2010 Record/MAC Record: 7-2/5-0
2009 Record: 7-6
2009 MAC Record/Finish: 5-3/2nd, West Division
Head Coach: Jerry Kill
Alma Mater/Year: Southwestern (KS)/1983
Record at NIU/Years: 20-15/3rd
Career Record/Years: 124-72/17th
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 508-459-51
Last Bowl Game: 2010 International Bowl (Toronto): USF 27, NIU 3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 49/23
Starters Returning: 19 (6 Off., 11 Def., 2 Spec.)
Starters Lost: 7 (4 Off., 2 Def., 1 Spec.)
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: Field Turf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll '67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater: James Madison '80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
Athletics Website: www.NIUHuskies.com
2010 NIU SCHEDULE
TOLEDO ROCKETS FACTS
2010 UT SCHEDULE
2010 Record/Conference Record: 6-3, 5-0
2009 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 5-7/3-5 4th West
Head Coach: Tim Beckman
Alma Mater/Year: Findlay '88
Record at UT/Year: 11-10/2nd
Career Record/Year: 11-10/2nd
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Colors: Midnight Blue & Gold
Stadium: Glass Bowl
President: Dr. Lloyd Jacobs
Athletic Director: Mike O'Brien
Ticket Information: 419-530-GOLD
Athletics Website: www.utrockets.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Paul Helgren
Phone: 419-530-4918 (O); 419-262-3861 (C)
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Overall: Toledo leads 29-8
In DeKalb: Toledo leads 11-6
In MAC Games: Toledo leads 19-5
Streak: UT, 1
Kill vs. Toledo: 1-1
NIU HEAD COACH Jerry Kill
Jerry Kill is in his third season at Northern Illinois and his 17th season as a collegiate head coach. The Kansas native will become the first coach in NIU history to lead the Huskies to three straight bowl games. With this season's victory over Minnesota, Kill's NIU teams have two wins over Big Ten teams, and he owns a 20-15 overall won-loss record at Northern Illinois. Kill's 124-72-0 career record as a head coach is good for a winning percentage of .633. Prior to NIU, he spent 14 years as head coach of programs at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Emporia State (1999-2000) and Southern Illinois (2001-07).
In his first stint as a collegiate head coach at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) from 1994-98, Kill's teams posted five consecutive winning seasons, a 38-14 overall record and were nationally-ranked in each of his final two years. After two seasons at Emporia State (Kans.), he moved on to Southern Illinois, where he led the Salukis to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs five times, including a trip to the FCS semifinals in 2007.
Southern Illinois went 55-32 in seven seasons under Kill. He was named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in 2004 following a 10-2 campaign, and won the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award in 2007 while leading SIU to a 12-2 record. Southern Illinois spent 64 straight weeks in the Top 20 between 2003 and 2007 and was ranked in the Top 10 for 12 consecutive weeks in 2007.
Kill began his collegiate coaching career at Kansas powerhouse Pittsburg State, beginning in 1985 with three seasons as the defensive coordinator. After spending the 1988 and '89 campaigns as the head coach at Webb City High School where the team won the 1989 state championship, he returned to PSU as offensive coordinator for the then NCAA Division II team. He picked up another championship as the Gorillas won the national title in 1991 with a 13-1-1 record.
The Northern Illinois football program has achieved academically under Kill. In his two seasons at NIU, 50 football student-athletes have earned their degrees and the football team's most recent Academic Progress Rate of 975 ranks the Huskies 10th of all Division I schools in the country in eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.
NIU-Toledo on Television
ESPN2 will televise the Northern Illinois-Toledo game to a national television audience with kickoff at 6 p.m. (Central) from Huskie Stadium. Clay Matvick will handle the play-by-play call with Robert Smith providing color analysis.
NIU-Toledo on Radio
On radio, fans can listen to the Northern Illinois-Toledo game on the Huskies' flagship station, WLBK AM 1360 in DeKalb, in Chicago on WSCR AM 670 The Score as well as on WTJK ESPN1380 AM in Janesville, Wis. which covers the Rockford, Ill. market. The NIU-ISP Radio Network broadcast kicks off with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. (CT). Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is in his 31st season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 26th year as NIU's color analyst, and fifth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.
"Inside Huskie Football" Radio Show
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill joins host Bill Baker and other special guests on the "Inside Huskie Football" live radio show each Thursday from 7-8 p.m. during the 2010 season. The show takes place at Fatty's Pub & Grille on Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. Hear the show on WLBK 1360 AM DeKalb and on NIU-ISP Radio Network affiliate ?ESPN 1380AM in Janesville, Wis. Future dates for the show are Nov. 4, 11 and 18.
"NIU Live" Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches for "NIU Live" on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago. The 30-minute show features a weekly update with football coach Jerry Kill as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. The November shows will air on the following dates:
- Friday, Nov. 5 - 12-12:30 a.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 11 - Approximately 11-11:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 17 - 12-12:30 a.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 24 - 12-12:30 a.m.
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and "Inside Huskie Football," live on Huskie 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 men's and women's basketball, volleyball and men's and women's soccer games. Subscribers also have access to Coach Kill's weekly press conferences and special video features.
Get all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more online every day at www.NIUHuskies.com, the official athletics website for Northern Illinois University.
NIU NEWS & NOTES
MAC West Showdown
Northern Illinois puts its seven-game winning streak on the line Tuesday night in front of the national television cameras of ESPN2 as the Huskies play host to Toledo in the game that could decide who will win the Mid-American Conference West Division. Both teams enter the game undefeated in league play.
Northern Illinois is promoting the Tuesday night match-up with Toledo as its annual "Black Out" game and encouraging all fans to wear black. The school will distribute black Thunderstix. In addition, NIU tailback great and current Chicago Bear Garrett Wolfe is expected to be on hand and will be honored as the "Huskie Legend" between the first and second quarters.
The Huskies enter Tuesday night's game versus Toledo looking to extend their winning streak to seven games, which would be NIU's longest streak since the 2003 team opened the season with seven consecutive wins. Northern Illinois' current six-game winning streak started Sept. 25 with a win at Minnesota and has continued with Mid-American Conference victories over Akron, Temple, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan. The winning sreak matches a six-game win streak for the Huskies from Sept. 24 to Oct. 30, 2004. Northern Illinois' 7-2 start this year matches the team's record through nine games in 2004.
Back in Time?
The last time a Northern Illinois team won five (or more) straight games to open a Mid-American Conference season was 2004, and the similarities between that year and 2010 are a little eerie, down to the dates on the calendar. In 2004, NIU started the year 1-2 with a home win in the second game and road losses at Maryland and Iowa State. Joe Novak's Huskies then won six straight MAC games between Sept. 24 and Oct. 30 to improve their record to 7-2 overall, 6-0 in the MAC, leading into a Tuesday, Nov. 9 ESPN2 showdown for the MAC West versus a Toledo team that was 5-1 in the league and 6-3 overall. The Rockets came out on top in that 2004 game by a 31-17 score and went on to play in the MAC Championship game.
The Coach's Credentials
Jerry Kill is the only Northern Illinois coach to lead the Huskies to back-to-back bowl games in the "major college" era (since 1969) with trips to the Independence Bowl in 2008 and the International Bowl last season and is set to become the first coach in school history to take the Huskies to three straight bowls. With the win over Minnesota earlier this year, he became the only coach in school history with two wins over Big Ten Conference opponents. Kill has posted a 20-15 record at NIU, highlighted by the bowl trips and Big Ten wins over Purdue (28-21) in 2009 and Minnesota (34-23). The win at Purdue marked the school's first Big Ten victory in 21 seasons.
Rockets & Dogs
Toledo holds the upper hand in the series as the Rockets have won 29 of the 37 meetings between the teams, including last year's 20-19 victory. Tuesday's meeting is the 18th played in DeKalb, where six of the Huskies' eight series wins have taken place. Toledo has dominated the series of late, winning 14 of the last 16 games dating back to 1990. NIU has won just five of the 24 games played as MAC foes.
The Last Meeting
A year ago in Toledo, Mike Salerno's 42-yard field goal attempt with 37 seconds left was blocked, securing the Rockets' 20-19 victory at the Glass Bowl. Northern Illinois fell behind 14-0 as Toledo scored on a 17-yard run by DaJuane Collins and a 26-yard pass from Austin Dantin to Tim Cortazzo. Salerno's first PAT attempt of the game was also blocked and that miscue would hurt the Huskies, who pulled within one point of the Rockets at 14-13 with 8:17 left in the third period. NIU took a 19-14 lead after Cory Hanson's interception at the Toledo 11-yard line, but Toledo scored the last touchdown of the game to claim the one-point victory.
On the Board
The Huskies received two votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll and a vote in the Associated Press poll this week after recording its sixth straight victory last week at WMU. The last time the Huskies were ranked in the AP poll was Nov. 9, 2003 when NIU owned a 9-1 record. NIU was ranked as high as No. 12 that season after starting 7-0 with wins over Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State.
WMU in Review
Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish led the Huskies on a game-winning touchdown drive with less than five minutes on the clock and senior defensive end Jake Coffman intercepted Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder on the NIU 12-yard line with 39 seconds on the clock to give Northern Illinois a 28-21 victory over WMU at Waldo Stadium. Northern Illinois won its sixth straight game behind tailback Chad Spann, who reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season after rushing for 146 yards on 22 carries, and the Huskie defense, which came up with a pair of fourth-down stops in the red zone.
Home Field Advantage
All-time, Northern Illinois is 139-97-2 at Huskie Stadium, which opened in 1965. NIU owns a .588 winning percentage in games played at Huskie Stadium, including a 49-17 mark (a .742 winning percentage) in its last 66 home contests and a 33-11 record since 2003. Under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois is 13-3 on Brigham Field, including a 5-1 record last year and a 4-0 mark so far in 2010.
Northern Illinois is playing its 25th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2010. The Huskies are in the 14th season of their second stint in the MAC after originally playing in the league from 1975-85. In Mid-American Conference games, Northern Illinois is 97-89-2 all-time versus league opponents. NIU posted a 5-3 record in MAC games a year ago, and since rejoining the MAC in 1997, NIU is 62-44 (.585) versus league opponents. Under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are 15-6 in Mid-American Conference games.
At home, Northern Illinois is 56-38-1 (.595) all-time in Mid-American Conference games with a 35-19 (.648) mark versus its league counterparts in Huskie Stadium since 1997. The Huskies have won 10 of their last 11, and seven straight, league home games. NIU's only home league loss over the last three seasons came in overtime to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008.
Senior CLASS Finalist
Huskie senior defensive end Jake Coffman has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and fan voting is underway at www.seniorCLASSaward.com. Coffman's story, his commitment to not only the NIU football program but to his country - as evidenced by his time in the Marine Corps - and his community, through volunteer efforts, makes him an ideal candidate for the award, which honors seniors who have achieved in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition. Coffman, named the 2009 Male Athlete of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, leads Northern Illinois with seven tackles for loss and two-and-a-half quarterback sacks. He recorded his first interception of the season and second of his career against Western Michigan. Fan voting will account for one-third of each finalist's total and fans can vote once per day through December 6.
Saluting the Seniors
Ten defenders, eight offensive players and three specialists play their final game at Huskie Stadium Tuesday night and the senior class is filled with unique stories. Fifteen of the 21 seniors are from Illinois (10) and the neighboring states of Indiana (2), Missouri (2) and Wisconsin (1) with the other eight from points east (Washington, D.C.), west (California and Arizona) and south (Florida). NIU boasts 13 senior starters in 2010 and in all, these 21 players have combined to make 641 appearances and 244 starts.
The Toledo game will be the 1,019th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 509th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, last season and has a 508-459-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .524. Over the last decade (2000-09), Northern Illinois posted a 68-53 record (.562) with eight winning campaigns, the best mark among any of the three NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in Illinois.
At 5-0, Northern Illinois is off to its best start in conference games since 2004, when the Huskies won their first six league games before falling to Toledo at home. NIU broke a string of four straight losses in MAC openers (2005-08) last year with a home win over Western Michigan, but had not won even its first two home games more recently than '04. Northern Illinois' road win over Akron in its 2010 conference opener (Oct. 2) marked the first time NIU won its league opener on the road since 2000.
Northern Illinois held its opponent scoreless in the second half in three straight games before Western Michigan broke through last week with a fourth-quarter touchdown, the first touchdown given up by the Huskies in the second half of a game since the Akron game. In addition, NO Northern Illinois opponent has scored MORE THAN one touchdown in the second half of a game this year. The Huskies outscored Temple, Buffalo and Central Michigan 62-0 in the second half of those games and over the last five games, Northern Illinois has outscored its opponents 98-14 after halftime.
Keeping the Streak Alive
Defensive end Jake Coffman was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week Monday after recording four tackles and an interception in NIU's 28-21 victory over MAC foe Western Michigan. Coffman, one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, intercepted an Alex Carder pass on Western Michigan's final drive of the game to seal the victory for the Huskies. His interception came on the Northern Illinois 12-yard line with the Broncos driving for the game-tying score. The Huskies' team leader in tackles for loss, Coffman added one-and-a-half tackles for loss against the Broncos and now has seven. He also combined with Mike Krause on a sack of Carder in the third quarter and continues to lead the Huskies in that category with two-and-a-half.
Clicking in Conference
NIU's statistics in its four Mid-American Conference games bear out its 5-0 league record. Here's a comparison of some key statistics in Northern Illinois' league games only and overall:
- Category MAC Games All Games
- NIU Points/Game 37.4 30.7
- Opponent Points/Game 14.6 18.7
- Opponent Rushing Yards/Game 104.2 126.9
- NIU Passing Yards/Game 203.0 173.6
- NIU Total Offense Yards/Game 445.0 416.9
- Opponent Total Offense Yards/Game 297.6 342.7
- NIU Time of Possession 35:17 32:26
- NIU Red Zone Scores 87% (27-31) 83% (38-46)
- Oponent Red Zone Scores 68% (15-22) 45% (5-11)
With two interceptions in its victory over Western Michigan, including Jake Coffman's game-saving pick with 39 seconds left to end a Bronco scoring threat, NIU now has 14 interceptions on the year to rank tied for seventh in the country in that category. This season's total is the highest by an NIU defense since 2003, when the Huskies intercepted 23 passes over 12 games. The Huskies intercepted a season-high four passes against Central Michigan with Tyrone Clark tallying two INTs, and Chris Smith picking off a pass for the third-straight game. Clark and Smith lead the team in interceptions with three. Northern Illinois' four interceptions against CMU was the highest single-game total since Nov. 20, 2004 when the Huskies picked off five passes versus Eastern Michigan.
Red Zone Rewards
One key to Northern Illinois' success this season has been its red zone efficiency, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The Huskies' red zone efficiency starts with opportunity. NIU has been in the red zone (its opponents 20-yard line or closer) 46 times, no other team in the MAC has been to the red zone more than 36 times (Western Michigan). Northern Illinois' opponents, meanwhile, have made just 22 trips to the red zone and converted 15 times, both are the lowest totals in the MAC. The Huskie defense has forced its opponent to turn the ball over on downs inside the red zone an amazing five times - on nearly one-quarter of its red zone visits. NIU's red zone defensive number of 68.2 percent with just nine touchdowns given up ranks seventh in the country.
NIU senior tailback Chad Spann continues to regularly find the end zone, a place he visited 20 times in 2009. Spann tied his career-high with three rushing touchdowns versus Central Michigan and his 12 TDs this year lead Northern Illinois and the MAC. Spann has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Huskies' last eight games and has at least one rushing touchdown in 14 of the Huskies' last 16 games dating back to last year's Miami game (Oct. 24). He has 39 rushing and 40 total touchdowns in his NIU career and ranks third all-time at Northern Illinois in touchdowns scored behind only Garrett Wolfe (57) and Michael Turner (48). He is tied for third all-time (with Stacey Robinson) in rushing touchdowns.
Chad Spann tallied his sixth overall, and fourth consecutive, 100-yard game of the season with 146 yards on 22 carries versus the Broncos. Spann ranks 11th in the country and leads the MAC in rushing with an average of 111.1 yards per game. He has 1,000 yards on the season and 2,528 for his career to rank ninth all-time at Northern Illinois. Spann rushed 24 times for 100 yards in the Temple game and carried the ball a career-high 31 times versus Buffalo for 111 yards. He followed that with a 101-yard day versus Central Michigan. His four consecutive 100-yard games is tied with Michael Turner (2003) and LeShon Johnson (1992) for the ninth-longest string in school history. The senior, who originally came to NIU as a walk-on, is one of 49 candidates for the 2010 Doak Walker Award.
With 146 yards at Western Michigan, Chad Spann hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season and became the Huskies first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher since Garrett Wolfe in 2005 and 2006. Spann has exactly 1,000 yards on 182 carries this year. Northern Illinois has now had a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of the last 12 years dating back to 1999 and Spann's 1,000-yard season is the 23rd in Huskie football history.
On the Offensive
The Huskies boast the No. 1 rushing offense, total offense, scoring offense and passing efficiency in the Mid-American Conference in 2010 and almost every one of those rankings can be traced back to the Huskies' ability to run the football and Chandler Harnish's play under center this year. The Huskies have the No. 1 and No. 6 rushers in the MAC in Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish and Harnish's average of 5.9 yards per run is tops in the league while Spann is the top touchdown scorer in the MAC. Individually, Northern Illinois has eight 100-plus yard rushing games on the season with six by Spann and two by Harnish.
Over the years, it seems no matter who is playing tailback, quarterback, offensive line or wide receiver, Northern Illinois returns to its rushing roots. After rushing for 281 yards on 50 carries versus Buffalo and adding 282 yards on 56 carries in the CMU game, the Huskies lead the Mid American Conference and rank 11th in the country in rushing offense with 243.3 yards per game. As a team, the Huskies are averaging 5.6 yards per rush and with that kind of success, it's no surprise that NIU is running the ball more than 64 percent of the time so far in 2010. Northern Illinois' rushing average is 66.5 yards more than the MAC's No. 2 team, Ohio.
In three seasons under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are a perfect 19-0 when they rush for 200 or more yards in a game, including a 7-0 mark in 2010. On the other hand, when opponents have held NIU below 200 yards rushing, Northern Illinois' record is 1-15. The lone exception to the 200-yard "rule" came last year versus Ball State, when the Huskies rushed for just 134 yards but earned a 26-20 win.
Clark Breaks Through
Sophomore Tyrone Clark became the first Huskie defender to win MAC West Player of the Week honors in 2010 after intercepting two passes in Northern Illinois' win over Central Michigan. Both of Clark's INTs came off of tipped passes. On the first, he snared the ball tipped by Sean Progar on a screen pass attempt; on the second he tipped the ball to himself to end a Chippewa drive before halftime.
Just nine games into his Huskie career, two-time MAC West Specialist of the Week Jimmie Ward has already set a Northern Illinois record as he recorded his third blocked punt of the season versus Central Michigan, adding to his blocks against Minnesota and Buffalo. The Mobile, Ala. native is the first NIU true freshman to earn two MAC Player of the Week honors in the same season since 2004 when kicker Chris Nendick was a two-time honoree. Ward has also been one of the Huskies' top players on kickoff coverage with 13 tackles.
The Block Goes On
Blocking punts has become commonplace for the Huskies under Jerry Kill. With three punt blocks by freshman Jimmie Ward this season, Northern Illinois has blocked nine punts in three seasons under Kill with five in 2008 and one last year.
Northern Illinois has won or tied the turnover battle in eight of its nine games so far in 2010 and is 7-1 in those games. The Huskies dominated the turnover tally versus Central Michigan by causing a season-high five turnovers while the Huskie offense did not give the ball away. NIU is a perfect 5-0 in the games when it has won the turnover battle (versus North Dakota, Minnesota, Akron, CMU) and is 2-1 in the three games when the turnovers were even, with wins over Temple and Buffalo and a loss to Iowa State.
The Huskies continue to enjoy success on third down and rank ninth in the country in third down conversion percentage with a 51.64 mark. Northern Illinois has not finished a season with a third down conversion percentage over 50 percent since at least 1988 (research is ongoing) with the high-point coming in 1989 with a 49.7 mark. In the last 10 seasons, Northern Illinois' best third down conversion percentage is 43.3 in 2008; the Huskies nearly matched that mark last year with a 43.2 mark. NIU has converted 50 percent or more of its third down tries in six of the season's nine games, topped by a 71.4 conversion percentage (10-of-14) versus Akron. Versus Western Michigan, Northern Illinois was 10-of-15 on third down conversions.
Moving On Up
Now in his third season as the Huskies' starting quarterback, junior Chandler Harnish continues to climb the NIU career charts in passing, total offense and even rushing. Harnish's 4,637 career passing yards rank fifth on the Northern Illinois charts as do his 384 completions. His career completion percentage (.618) is third. Harnish's 31 touchdown passes and 41 touchdowns reponsible for all-time put him eighth on the Huskie lists. The Indiana native has 5,964 yards of total offense to rank fourth all-time at NIU. See Harnish's complete career stats later in the player's section of this release.
In eight starts at quarterback for the Huskies this season, Chandler Harnish has rushed for a career-high 559 yards on 95 carries for a 5.9-yard average. The junior ranks sixth in the MAC in rushing and owns the highest average per carry of any back in the league's Top 10. Harnish has four runs of 37 yards or longer, including touchdowns of 37 (vs. Illinois) and 40 (vs. North Dakota) yards. With 117 yards on 11 carries at Illinois, Harnish passed the 1,000-yard mark for his career; he now has 1,327 yards on 302 attempts with four career 100-yard games. He ranks 26th on NIU's all-time rushing list, but is only the third Huskie quarterback to gain 1,000 rushing yards, along with Stacey Robinson (2,727 yards) and Marshall Taylor (1,971).
The Definition of Efficiency
Junior Chandler Harnish, the NIU starter at quarterback for the past eight games, is enjoying a career year as he continues to lead the Mid-American Conference and ranks 28th in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 147.3. Harnish has thrown just four interceptions on the year and had a string of 108 straight attempts without throwing a pick snapped versus Buffalo. Harnish's completion percentage of 66.9 percent (123-of-187) is the highest of his career.
Chandler Harnish became the first quarterback in Northern Illinois history to pick up back-to-back MAC West weekly honors after earning MAC West Offensive Player of the Week recognition following the Akron and Temple games. Harnish completed 16-of-20 attempts at Akron for a season-high 281 yards and three TDs, and hit 20-of-25 passes versus Temple to record the top single game completion percentage games (with at least 10 completions) of his career. In the Temple game, he passed for 211 yards with two touchdowns and added 71 rushing yards on 14 carries. He led NIU on five long scoring drives (64-plus) yards as the Huskies converted 11-of-16 third downs.
Some Love for the Line
With three new starters in 2010, the Huskie offensive line was a question mark to some coming into the season, but Matt Limegrover's charges have more than passed the test so far. NIU ranks tied for first in the MAC and tied for 18th in the country in fewest sacks allowed, having given up nine in nine games for an average of 1.00 per game, while also powering the top rushing offense in the league. Northern Illinois backs have eight 100-plus yard efforts so far while running behind tackles Trevor Olson and Keith Otis, guards Logan Pegram, Ed Jackson and Joe Pawlak and center Scott Wedige. Otis, the combination of Pegram and Jackson, and Wedige are all first-time starters in 2010 while Olson has started all 35 games of his Huskie career and Pawlak, a former walk-on, is a two-year starter.
NIU junior offensive lineman Adam Kiel is one of only 11 players from an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program to be named to the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He is the second Huskie to earn the honor in the last three years, joining 2008 honoree Matt Simon. The team is selected by a voting panel of former honorees, coaches and media members, and honors players who demonstrate outstanding commitment to service and volunteerism. Kiel participated in 11 different activities over the past year, and also coordinated many of the team's community service efforts. Kiel serves as Vice-President of NIU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Here's the Kicker
NIU senior kicker Michael Cklamovski had never tried a field goal in a collegiate game prior to this year. Now, the University of Illinois graduate, former Illini kickoff man and current NIU law student leads the Mid-American Conference with 12 field goals - an average of 1.33 per game. Cklamovski has scored 61 points on the year with 25 PATs and at least one field goal in six of the Huskies' last seven games. He made seven straight field goals, beginning with his first ever college "make" - a career-long 48-yarder - versus his former team. In addition, 20 of Cklamovski's 56 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.
Jerry Kill has continued a long-time NIU tradition of turning non-scholarship players into contributors and even starters. Five Huskie starters -- Chad Spann (TB), Joe Pawlak (OG), Jason Schepler (TE), Jake Coffman (DE) and Sean Progar (DE) -- and 11 players on NIU's current depth chart originally came to Northern Illinois as walk-ons. Key contributors Willie Clark (WR), Connor Flahive (FB), Jack Marks (TE) and Rashaan Melvin (CB) are also former walk-ons as are specialists Michael Cklamovski (K) and Ryan Neir (P).
Northern Illinois has used multiple players throughout the line-up on defense to win six straight games in 2010. NIU is regularly playing 10 defensive linemen, five linebackers and seven defensive backs. No Huskies are ranked in the Top 20 in tackles in the Mid-American Conference, and there are not any NIU names in the league's top 10 for quarterback sacks, tackles for loss or fumbles forced. Eighteen Huskie defenders have at least 10 tackles, 25 have been in on a tackle for loss, 11 have sacks and 10 different players have intercepted passes.
Coffman Comes Back
One of the top recruits for NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill heading into this season was not a newcomer at all. After announcing his "retirement" from college football following the 2010 International Bowl, defensive end Jake Coffman came to Kill in May and asked if he could return. He completed his bachelor's degree in the spring, but with the encouragement of his dad, decided to return to "finish" what he had started with the Huskie football team. The 26-year-old Marine Corps veteran brings, experience, leadership and proven credentials to the defensive line. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and five pass break ups to earn all-MAC honors as a junior.
Senior safety Mike Sobol returned to the field versus Iowa State, just four months after surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Sobol was allowed to practice on a limited basis 3 1/2 months after surgery and was given the "full go" two weeks later. He came back nearly two months sooner than "normal," according to NIU football trainer Kammy Powell. Sobol and Powell averaged two-plus hours of rehab per day. With the injury to top defender Tracy Wilson, Sobol has started the last five games at strong safety and ranks seventh on the team with 25 tackles.
NIU has not had a linebacker lead the team in tackles since 2004 when Brian Atkinson ranked first on the squad in stops with 137, but nine games into the 2010 season, Northern Illinois' three starting linebackers all rank in the top four on the NIU tackle chart. Senior Alex Kube has 62 total tackles, followed by Tyrone Clark, who is tied with safety Tommy Davis with 54 stops. Middle linebacker Devon Butler has 52 stops. Kube led NIU in tackles as a freshman in 2007 with 111, but at the time, he was the Huskies' starting safety. Sophomores Clark and Butler are in their first seasons as starters.
Senior Chad Spann enjoyed a career night at Minnesota as he gained 223 yards on just 15 carries with a pair of rushing touchdowns, one on a game-clinching 61-yard run in the fourth quarter. For the game, Spann averaged 14.9 yards per carry while posting the first 200-yard game by a Huskie player since Garrett Wolfe ran for 203 yards versus Central Michigan in 2006. In addition, Spann set up NIU's first touchdown with a 56-yard run and added a 33-yard jaunt in the second period. Following that performance, Spann was named the Walter Camp Football Bowl Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week.
Lynch Goes Long
NIU redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Lynch made the most of his playing time versus Buffalo. On his second snap, Lynch took off down the left sideline for a 90-yard touchdown run. It was the fourth-longest rush in school history and the longest since LeShon Johnson had a 92-yard carry versus Southern Illinois on Oct. 2, 1993. Lynch's run was also the longest ever by a Northern Illinois quarterback.
Northern Illinois was a popular choice to win the MAC West Division by the pollsters this preseason as the Mid-American Conference Preseason Poll, USA Today, Athlon, Sporting News, CBS Sports.com, and Sports Illustrated, among others, tabbed the Huskies as the MAC West favorites. The last time NIU was picked to win the West was in 2006 prior to Garrett Wolfe's senior season. Earlier this year, the Huskies were also named as one of the top 50 teams in the country by Sporting News and Phil Steele's Magazine.
The Huskie offense gained a season-high 520 yards on 69 plays versus Akron, the 16th-highest single game total in school history. Prior to that, NIU had hit the 500-yard mark in total offense just 25 times in its recorded history, most recently last year versus Eastern Michigan.
The Northern Illinois offense fit that description at Akron as the NIU offense scored on EIGHT straight possessions (in which it ran a play) and did not punt until less than seven minutes remained in the game. The Huskies' first three drives each resulted in field goals, while the next five ended in the end zone. The possessions do not include Tommy Davis' muffed punt in the first quarter, as the Huskies did not run an offensive play following the Akron recovery, while one of NIU's TDs came on Devon Butler's 26-yard INT return.
Chandler Harnish and Chad Spann combined to rush for 318 yards on 42 carries versus North Dakota to record the fifth-highest two-back total in school history. It was the most yards by a Northern Illinois duo in 15 years, since Charles Talley and Scott Florence went for a school-record 357 rushing yards in 1995.
Michael Cklamovski put his name in the Northern Illinois single-game record book by making four field goals in six attempts versus Central Michigan. The four field goals made ties for the third-highest total in school history, while the six attempts is tied for the second-most in a single game. Cklamovski made field goals of 25, 21, 24 and 19 yards. The last NIU kicker to try or make more field goals in a game was Chris Nendick, who went five-of-seven on threes versus Temple in 2006. Cklamovski's 15 points in that game is tied for the seventh-highest total in Huskie history.
Dashing Versus Dakota
In his first start of 2010, NIU junior quarterback Chandler Harnish ran like he never had before. Versus North Dakota, Harnish rushed for a career-best 178 yards on 21 carries to compile the most rushing yards by a Northern Illinois quarterback since Huskie great Stacey Robinson ran for 308 yards versus Fresno State on Oct. 8, 1990. Robinson and Marshall Taylor are the only Northern Illinois quarterbacks to run for more yards in a game.
NIU wrapped up its 2010 non-conference schedule in September as the Huskies started the season with four straight non-conference games for the second straight year. Northern Illinois finished its non-league slate with a 2-2 record for the second straight season. The Huskies lost to Iowa State and Illinois while defeating Minnesota and North Dakota in this year's non-conference match-ups. Under Jerry Kill, NIU is 5-7 in non-conference games over the least three years, with three of the losses by four points or less.
One secret to Kill's success has been the continuity on his coaching staff. His two coordinators - Tracy Claeys on defense and Matt Limegrover on offense - have been with Kill for 14 and 10 years, respectively, and the nine full-time assistant coaches average nine years with Kill. Add Director of Sports Performance Eric Klein, who qualifies as Kill's longest-tenured assistant, and the average jumps to 9.7. Kill brought seven of his assistant coaches and Klein from Southern Illinois, with defensive line coach Jeff Phelps now the only holdover from Joe Novak's staff.
Senior noseguard Mike Krause is having a banner season, one year after being forced to sit out the 2009 campaign due to a heart condition. During his year off, he continued working toward his career goals as the business management grad served an internship in the NIU Athletic Business Office last summer. Krause, a business major with a 3.4 GPA, was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented to the top Scholar-Athlete in college football. Krause is one of only 47 FBS student-athletes nominated for the award.
Kill was thrilled to add Division III Offensive Coordinator of the Year Jim Zebrowski to the staff as the Huskies' quarterbacks coach when an opening came up on the staff last February. Zebrowski, who most recently won a pair of NCAA Division III national championships as the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Kill have known each other since the latter arrived at Southern Illinois, although Zebrowski left the school before Kill arrived. With Zebrowski's arrival as quarterbacks coach, Pat Poore has moved over to tutor the NIU wide receivers in 2010.
Follow the Leaders
Prior to the 2010 season opener, Northern Illinois Head Coach Jerry Kill introduced the Huskies' 2010 Leadership Council, the group of players selected to serve as liaisons for the players to the coaching staff and perform additional leadership functions. Members of the Leadership Council are: Jake Coffman (Sr., DE), Alex Kube (Sr., LB), Tracy Wilson (Jr., FS), Trevor Olson (Jr., OT), Ricky Crider (Sr., TB), Landon Cox (Sr., WR) and Jason Schepler (Jr., TE) along with all five Huskie quarterbacks. Players in this group will serve as team captains during the Huskies' games this season.
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill is proud of the academic accomplishments of his team, topped by the 50 football players who have earned their bachelor's degrees in the past two years under Kill. The football team's Academic Progress Rate (APR), the instrument used by the NCAA to measure the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes, ranks tied for 10th in the country among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. NIU's 975 APR put it in elite company with schools like Air Force, Rice, Duke, Vanderbilt and Stanford.
Huskies in the NFL
As of Saturday, Sept. 4, there were six Huskies listed on NFL active rosters. The group is led by 2008 NIU senior Larry English, who became the highest NFL Draft choice in school history when he was selected with the 16th pick of the first round by the San Diego Chargers. English, who is currently injured, is in his second season in the league in 2010. He is joined in the pro ranks by running backs Garrett Wolfe (Chicago Bears) and Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons), offensive linemen Ryan Diem (Indianapolis Colts) and Doug Free (Dallas Cowboys), and receiver Sam Hurd (Dallas Cowboys). In addition, fullback/tight end Jake Nordin is on injured reserve for the Lions.