Nov. 16, 2010
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FOOTBALL 2010
NIU (8-2, 6-0) at Ball State (4-7, 3-4)
Nov. 20, 2010 | 11 a.m. (CT)
Muncie, Ind. | Scheumann Stadium | 22,500
Complete Release in PDF
Remember to watch today's game live via a live stream on All-MACcess at www.mac-sports.com.
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2010 Record/MAC Record: 8-2/6-0
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: 21-15/3rd
Career Record/Years: 125-72/17th
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 509-459-51
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
2010 Record/Conference Record: 4-7, 3-4 2009 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 2-10/2-6 5th West Head Coach: Stan Parrish Alma Mater/Year: Heidelberg 69 Record at BSU/Year: 6-18/2nd Career Record/Year: 63-59-3/14th Location: Muncie, Indiana Enrollment: 17,285 Conference: Mid-American Colors: Cardinal & White Stadium: Scheumann Stadium Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf/22,500 President: Dr. Jo Ann M. Gora Athletic Director: Tom Collins Ticket Information: 765-285-1474 Athletics Website: www.ballstatesports.com FB Media Relations Contact: Joe Hernandez Phone: 765-285-8242 (O); 765-730-4614 (C) E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2010 BSU SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Overall: Ball State leads 20-15-2
In Muncie: Ball State leads 9-8
In MAC Games: Ball State leads 15-9
Streak: NIU, 1
Kill vs. Ball State: 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 his team to three straight bowl games. With this seasons victory over Minnesota, Kills NIU teams have two wins over Big Ten teams, and he owns a 21-15 overall won-loss record at Northern Illinois. Kills 125-72-0 career record as a head coach is good for a winning percentage of .634. 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, Kills 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 teams 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-Ball State Online
There is no over-the-air television broadcast of the Northern Ilinois-Ball State game, however, the game will be streamed live online via the All-MACcess pay service, with audio provided by the Ball State radio crew. Go to www.mac-sports.com to sign up for the All-MACcess stream, or find the same production at www.ballstatesports.com.
NIU-Ball State on Radio
On radio, fans can listen to the Northern Illinois-Ball State 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 10:30 a.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 NIUs color analyst. NIU Live co-host Andy Garcia will handle sideline duties for the Ball State game.
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 this Thursday from 7-8 p.m. The show takes place at Fattys 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. Remaining shows for 2010 will be held next Wednesday, Nov. 24 and Nov. 30.
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 remaining November shows will air on the following dates:
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 mens and womens basketball, volleyball and mens and womens soccer games. Subscribers also have access to Coach Kills 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
Going for Eight Straight
Northern Illinois looks for its eighth straight victory as the Huskies travel to Muncie, Ind. to take on MAC West foe Ball State in the penultimate game of the 2010 regular season. The Huskies, who are undefeated in league play so far this season, are coming off a 65-30 home victory over Toledo on ESPN2 on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
NIUs win over Toledo extended the Huskies winning streak to seven games, which matched the winning streaks compiled by the 2002 and 2003 Northern Illinois teams. The 2003 team won its first seven games before falling to Bowling Green on Oct. 25, and eventually finished the season 10-2. In 2002, Joe Novaks team reeled off seven straight wins from Sept. 28 to Nov. 16, losing to Toledo in the season finale. Northern Illinois current winning streak started Sept. 25 with a win at Minnesota and has continued with Mid-American Conference victories over Akron, Temple, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Toledo.
Northern Illinois has not had a winning streak of longer than seven games since becoming a major college (now called Division I Football Bowl Subdivision) program in 1969. The last time a Northern Illinois team won more than seven games in a row was in 1965 - 45 years ago - when Coach Howard Fletchers Huskies put together an undefeated (9-0) regular season before losing to North Dakota in the Mineral Water Bowl.
Chasing a Title
Northern Illinois needs one win in its last two games to earn at least a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title and a berth in the MAC Championship game to be played at Detroits Ford Field on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. NIU made its only previous appearance in the MAC title game in 2005. The Huskies earned a share of the West Division crown in 2001, 2002 and 2004 before breaking through to win the division outright in 2005.
NIU and Ball State will play for The Bronze Stalk, a traveling trophy designed specifically for this rivalry in honor of the corn country locales of the institutions. DeKalb artist Renee Bemis designed the trophy, which depicts a cornstalk. The Huskies claimed the trophy for the first time last year, and overall the teams have split the two trophy games.
The Coachs 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 will 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 21-15 record at NIU, highlighted by the bowl trips, Big Ten wins over Purdue (28-21) in 2009 and Minnesota (34-23) and the Huskies current seven-game winning streak.
With eight wins and two regular season games remaining, Northern Illinois is on track to play in a postseason game for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Huskies are bowl eligible for the third straight season and have won at least six games 10 times in the past 11 years dating back to the 2000 season.
Northern Illinois and Ball State meet for the 14th consecutive season, ever since the Huskies rejoined the MAC in 1997. The teams have played 37 times overall with the Cardinals holding a 20-15-2 edge in the all-time series. Ball State has won 15 of the 24 games the teams have played as league foes, but is just 9-8 versus the Huskies at home. BSU did win the last game between the teams played at Scheumann Stadium, in 2008, while NIUs last win in Muncie came in 2006.
The Last Meeting
A year ago, the Huskies earned a 26-20 victory over Ball State at Huskie Stadium despite being outgained on the ground and in the air by the Cardinals. After giving up a touchdown on BSUs opening drive, Northern Illinois scored the next 16 points, including two on a safety by Jake Coffman, before giving up a pair of field goals in the second quarter. In the second half, quarterback Chandler Harnish returned after missing the previous three games with a knee injury and completed all nine of his pass attempts while leading the Huskies to 10 third-quarter points. From there, the Huskie defense took over, allowing just one second half TD as NIU won its seventh game of the year.
After an impressive win on national television (ESPN2) versus the MAC Wests other unbeaten team in Toledo, the Huskies received 37 points in the Associated Press Poll and 30 points in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week and were in the 29th position in both rankings. A week ago, NIU had just nine and eight points in the polls, respectively. 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.
Chandler Harnish directed a Huskie offense that gained 422 rushing yards and 584 total yards while scoring eight touchdowns as Northern Illinois dominated the visiting Toledo Rockets 65-30 Tuesday night, Nov. 9. Harnish rushed for 149 yards on 13 carries, with a career-long 69-yard rush and a 28-yard touchdown run, to lead the Huskie attack. NIU also got an 83-yard kickoff return score from Tommy Davis, and runs of 55 and 50 yards by newcomers Jasmin Hopkins and Akeem Daniels, respectively. Chad Spann scored three rushing TDs, Daniels scored twice and the NIU defense shut out the Rockets in the first half as Northern Illinois took a 28-0 halftime lead.
Happy at Home
The win over Toledo was Northern Illinois ninth-straight at Huskie Stadium dating back to the 2009 loss to Idaho on Sept. 26. NIU has won eight straight MAC games in DeKalb and that streak goes back to the Huskies last league game of 2008. Under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois is 14-3 on Brigham Field, including a perfect 5-0 mark in 2010.
Northern Illinois is completing 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 98-89-2 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 63-44 (.589) versus league opponents. Under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are 16-6 in Mid-American Conference games.
The MAC Road
Northern Illinois has posted a 21-12 (.636) record versus Mid-American Conference foes on the road since 2002, including a 1-3 mark last year and a 2-2 mark in 2008. NIU has defeated Akron and Westen Michigan in MAC play on the road so far this year. The Huskies lone league road win last season came at Miami (Ohio) and NIU lost its last two MAC road games in 2009 (at Ohio and at Central Michigan), to the two teams that eventually met in the MAC Championship game.
Kills NIU Road Record
The Huskies hit the road for the last two regular season games of 2010. After playing four of their first five games of the season on the road, NIU is playing three of the last four games away from Huskie Stadium. Under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois is a respectable 7-10 in road games since 2008, with wins at Purdue and Minnesota. Seven of the 10 losses were by nine points or less, including decisions at Illinois (a 28-22 loss on Sept. 18), at Minnesota and Tennessee (both in 2008) and at Wisconsin (in 2009).
Senior CLASS Finalist
Huskie senior defensive end Jake Coffman is one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Lowes Senior CLASS Award and fan voting, which will account for one-third of the final total, is underway at www.seniorCLASSaward.com through December 6. Fans can vote once per day. Coffmans story, his commitment to the NIU football program and to his country - as evidenced by his time in the Marine Corps - and to the community, through volunteer efforts, makes him an ideal candidate for the award, as a senior who has achieved in community, classroom, character and competition. Coffman, the Touchdown Club of Columbus 2009 Male Athlete of the Year, is tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss and his two-and-a-half quarterback sacks are tied for second on the squad. He recorded his first interception of the season and second of his career against Western Michigan.
Ten defenders, eight offensive players and three specialists played their final game at Huskie Stadium last Tuesday. Fifteen of NIUs 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 254 starts.
The Ball State game will be the 1,020th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 510th victory all-time. NIU played its 1,000th game and won its 500th, last season and has a 509-459-51 all-time record for a wining percentage of .524. From 2000 to 2009, 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.
Cardinal on Staff
Northern Illinois defensive line coach Jeff Phelps faces his alma mater for the fifth time and has seen the teams split the previous four meetings. A native of Chicago, Phelps was a two-time all-Mid-American Conference honoree at linebacker for the Cardinals who started 33 games and compiled 277 career tackles for BSU from 1994-97. Phelps played on the BSU team that won the 1996 MAC title ; he earned his bachelors degree from Ball State in 1998.
With a 6-0 record in Mid-American Conference game so far this season, Northern Illinois has already posted its best league record since 2005, when the Huskies went 6-2 in the league and won the West Division. One more win would match NIUs MAC record in 2004 when Northern Illinois lost just one league game - that to Toledo. In 25 seasons in the MAC, Northern Illinois has never gone undefeated in league play, including in the 1983 championship season when the Huskies were 8-1 versus MAC competition with a loss to Central Michigan.
Make it Eight Straight
Following his 149-yard rushing and 162-yard passing day versus Toledo, Chandler Harnish earned the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Award for the third time this season. Harnish becomes the first QUARTERBACK in Northern Illinois history to win the honor three times in one season, and his selection gives the Huskies a MAC West Player of the Week for eight straight games. Harnish picked up back-to-back MAC West weekly honors following the Akron (10-2) and Temple (10-9) games earlier this season. On Tuesday, Harnish totaled 311 yards of total offense by completing 11-of-16 passes for 162 yards and a score (no interceptions) and rushing for 149 yards on 13 carries with a 28-yard rushing TD. His day included a career-long 69-yard run as he averaged 11.5 yards per carry.
In nine games as the Huskies starting quarterback, junior Chandler Harnish has rushed for 708 yards on 108 carries with five touchdowns and passed for 1,601 yards on 134-of-203 passing with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Harnishs 2,309 yards of total offense already ranks fourth on the Northern Illinois chart for a single season and is the most yards compiled by an NIU player since Josh Haldi had 2,479 yards (2,544 passing and minus 65 rushing) in 2003. Besides Haldi, the only other quarterback ahead of Harnish on the total offense single season list is NIU all-time great George Bork, with 2,945 yards in 1963 and 2,398 yards in 1962. Harnish is also challenging Phil Horvaths single season record for yards per play with a 7.42 mark.
Moving On Up
Now in his third season as the Huskies starting quarterback, junior Chandler Harnish also continues to climb the NIU CAREER charts in passing, total offense and even rushing. Harnishs 4,799 career passing yards rank fifth on the Northern Illinois charts as do his 395 completions. His career completion percentage (.620) is third. Harnishs 32 touchdown passes and 43 touchdowns reponsible for all-time put him eighth on the Huskie lists. The Indiana native became just the fourth NIU quarterback to pass the 6,000-yard mark in total offense and now ranks third all-time at NIU in total offense with 6,275 yards to rank behind only Chris Finlen and George Bork. See Harnishs complete career stats later in this release.
Chandler Harnish has rushed for a career-high 708 yards on 108 carries for a 6.6-yard average in 2010 and has moved all the way up to third in the MAC in rushing and has the highest per carry average of any back in the leagues Top 10 (more than 60 carries). He had a career-long 69-yard run in the Toledo game and has also scored on runs of 37 (vs. Illinois) and 40 (vs. North Dakota) yards. He has three 100-yard rushing games this season, including a career-best 178-yard game against North Dakota, and five for his career. With 117 yards on 11 carries at Illinois, Harnish passed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing; he now has 1,476 yards on 315 attempts and ranks 25th on NIUs all-time rushing list. He 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 nine games, is enjoying a career year as he continues to lead the Mid-American Conference and ranks 22nd in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 149.5. After throwing nine interceptions in 2008 and six a year ago, Harnish has thrown just four interceptions this season to go with a career high 13 touchdowns. His 66.0 percent (134-of-203) completion percentage is the highest of his career.
One key to Northern Illinois success in 2010 has been its ability to hold onto the football. Northern Illinois is tied for seventh in the country in fewest fumbles lost with just four on the year and NIU has now gone four games without losing a fumble. The Huskies have not turned the ball over on the ground in 252 carries, since Chad Spann fumbled on the very first rushing attempt of the Temple game.
For the fourth time in its last five games, Northern Illinois held an opponent scoreless for a complete half as the Huskies kept Toledo off the scoreboard while building a 28-0 halftime lead. After keeping Temple, Buffalo and Central Michigan off the scoreboard in the second half of NIUs home wins over those teams, Northern Illinois held Toledo without a point in the first half last Tuesday.
When Western Michigan scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to take a 21-20 lead on NIU, it marked the first touchdown given up by the Huskie defense in the second half of a game since the Akron game on Oct. 2. Toledo then became the first Northern Illinois opponent to score MORE THAN one touchdown in the second half of a game this year. Despite the Rockets 30-point second-half, NIU has outscored its opponents by 92 points in the second half this year, 176-84.
Northern Illinois exploded for 65 points, 422 rushing yards and 584 yards of total offense in its win over Toledo. The 65 points were the fifth-most in school history, the second-highest total ever in a Mid-American Conference game and the most since Northern Illinois scored 73 points in a win over Buffalo on Oct. 28, 2000. The Huskies 37 second-half points tied for the seventh-most overall and fourth-most in a MAC game while the 28 third-quarter points tied for the second highest total for a quarter versus the MAC. In addition, NIUs nine total touchdowns ranks third all-time. Northern Illinois surpassed the 500-yard mark in total offense for the second time this season en route to the ninth-highest yardage total in school history and most since the 2006 Ball State game (610). The Huskies 422 rushing yards also ranks as the 11th-best rushing game at Northern Illinois and is the most rushing yards for an NIU team in 15 years, since the 1995 squad had 426 yards on Nov. 11 versus Arkansas State.
The Huskies scored five of their nine touchdowns versus Toledo on plays of 25 yards or longer with only one the first of those scores - a 33-yard strike from Chandler Harnish to Nathan Palmer - coming via the pass. NIU got touchdown runs of 28, 50 and 55 yards from Harnish, Akeem Daniels and Jasmin Hopkins as five players rushed for 40 or more yards in the game. Tommy Davis accounted for the other long touchdown play with an 83-yard kickoff return score.
When the all freshman duo of quarterback Jordan Lynch and wide out Akeem Daniels take the field in NIUs version of the popular Wildcat package, opponents had better not take a break. All Daniels - the younger brother of senior cornerback Kiaree Daniels - has done is score three touchdowns on nine touches (eight rushes and a catch), while Lynchs contributions include a 90-yard touchdown run versus Buffalo and an 8.4-yard rushing average (176 yards on 21 carries). Lynchs run stands as the fourth-longest in school history, the longest ever by an NIU quarterback and the longest since LeShon Johnson had a 92-yard carry versus Southern Illinois on Oct. 2, 1993. In addition to his two scores versus Toledo (on runs of 12 and 50 yards), Daniels scored on a nine-yard run versus Temple.
NIU senior tailback Chad Spann tied his career high with three rushing touchdowns versus Toledo and now has 15 rushing TDs on the year after scoring 20 touchdowns a year ago. Spann has scored three rushing touchdowns in two of the Huskies last three games to lead the MAC and rank tied for 15th in the country in scoring. Spann has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Huskies last nine games and has one rushing score or more in 15 of NIUs last 17 games dating back to last years Miami game (Oct. 24). He has 42 rushing and 43 total touchdowns in his NIU career and ranks third all-time at Northern Illinois in touchdowns scored and in rushing TDs behind only Garrett Wolfe and Michael Turner.
Although Chad Spann saw his 100-yard rushing game streak snapped at four versus Toledo, the Huskie senior remains atop the MAC rushing list and his 107.0 yards per game average ranks 14th in the country. Spann has 342 yards more than the MACs No. 2 rusher, Bernard Pierce and has totaled six 100-yard rushing games this season. His 2,598 career rushing yards rank ninth all-time at NIU. He tallied a career-best 223 yards on 15 carries earlier this season at Minnesota to win Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors and his 223-yard output included runs of 61, 56 and 33 yards. He averaged 14.9 yards per carry in the game. Spanns other 100-yard games this year have come versus North Dakota (140), Temple (100), Buffalo (111), Central Michigan (101) and Western Michigan (146).
With 146 yards at Western Michigan, Chad Spann hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season and became Northern Illinois first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher since Garrett Wolfe in 2005 and 2006. Spann has 1,070 yards on 202 carries this year, his career highs in both categories. Northern Illinois has now had a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of the last 12 years dating back to 1999 and Spanns 1,000-yard season is the 23rd in Huskie football history.
After gaining 422 yards on the ground versus Toledo, Northern Illinois has 2,612 rushing yards on the year to rank 10th in the country in rushing offense. The total ranks as the seventh-best rushing season in school history and the Huskies are averaging 5.9 yards per rush. Northern Illinois rushing average is 83.6 yards per game more than the MACs No. 2 team, Ohio.
In three seasons under Jerry Kill, the Huskies are a perfect 20-0 when they rush for 200 or more yards in a game, including an 8-0 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.
Top of His Game
Northern Illinois noseguard Mike Krause is quietly putting together the best season of his Huskie career. The senior, who was sidelined by a heart condition in 2009, established new career highs with five tackles and two tackles for loss in the Toledo game to up his season totals to 20 stops and four TFLs. His 20 tackles so far this season tie his career best (set in 2008). NIU coaches have named Krause Northern Illinois defensive lineman of the week three times this year, including in each of the past two weeks.
Coffman Saves the Day
Defensive end Jake Coffman was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week after recording four tackles and an interception in NIUs 28-21 victory over Western Michigan. Coffmans second career interception, and first of the season, came on the Northern Illinois 12-yard line with the Broncos driving for the game-tying score. Coffman is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with seven and ranks second behind Sean Progar in sacks with 2.5.
Rashaan Melvin made his second interception of the season in the Toledo game to up the Huskies season total to 15. NIU ranks tied for 12th in the country in interceptions and has picked off at least one pass in nine of the Huskies 10 games this year. This seasons total is the most by an NIU defense since 2003, when the Huskies intercepted 23 passes over 12 games. Melvin is one of three NIU players with multiple interceptions this season as Tyrone Clark and Chris Smith are tied for the team lead with three apiece while 10 players have intercepted passes overall. 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.
Huskie sophomore Tommy Davis tied the Northern Illinois career record for kickoff return touchdowns with an 83-yard return for a score to close out the crazy third quarter of the NIU-Toledo game. Davis kickoff return touchdown was the second of his career, tying him with Michael Turner (2000-03) and John Spilis (1966-68) for the NIU record. Davis, who was not touched en route to the end zone, ranks sixth all-time at NIU in kickoff returns and kickoff return yards.
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) 50 times, only two other MAC teams (WMU, CMU) have been to the red zone as many as 40 times. Northern Illinois opponents, meanwhile, have made just 24 trips to the red zone and converted 16 times, both are the lowest totals in the MAC by six. The Huskie defense has forced its opponent to turn the ball over on downs inside the red zone five times - or one-fifth of its red zone visits. NIUs red zone defense of 66.7 percent with 10 touchdowns given up ranks sixth in the country.
The Huskies continue to enjoy success on third down and rank sixth in the country in third down conversion percentage with a 52.99 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 49.7 percent. In the last 10 seasons, Northern Illinois best third down conversion percentage was 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 seven of the seasons 10 games, topped by a 71.4 conversion percentage (10-of-14) versus Akron. Northern Illinois has posted a third-down conversion percentage of 66.7 percent in each of its last two games.
Northern Illinois has won or tied the turnover battle in nine of its 10 games so far in 2010 and is 8-1 in those games, including last weeks win over Toledo when the Huskies did not commit a turnover. The Huskies dominated the turnover tally versus Central Michigan by causing a season-high five turnovers. The Toledo game was Northern Illinois third turnover-free game of the year (CMU, Minnesota). NIU is a perfect 6-0 in the games when it has won the turnover battle (versus North Dakota, Minnesota, Akron, CMU and Toledo) 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.
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 NIUs 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).
Less than a season 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 16 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.
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. The team will be introduced on the field at halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl and spend two days in New Orleans. Kiel participated in 11 different activities over the past year, and also coordinated many of the teams community service efforts. He serves as Vice-President of NIUs Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
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 Limegrovers charges have more than passed the test so far. NIU ranks first in the MAC and tied for 15th in the country in fewest sacks allowed, having given up 10 in 10 games for an average of 1.00 per game, while also powering the top rushing offense in the league. Northern Illinois backs have nine 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 36 games of his Huskie career and Pawlak, a former walk-on, is a two-year starter who is playing the best football of his career.
Heres 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 is second in the Mid-American Conference with 13 field goals - an average of 1.30 per game. Cklamovski has scored 72 points on the year with 33 PATs and at least one field goal in seven of the Huskies last eight 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, 23 of Cklamovskis 68 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.
One key to Northern Illinois defensive success so far in 2010 is depth. NIU is regularly playing 10 defensive linemen, five linebackers and seven defensive backs. No Huskies are ranked in the Top 25 in tackles in the Mid-American Conference, and there are not any NIU names in the leagues top 10 for interceptions, quarterback sacks, tackles for loss or fumbles forced. Twenty 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 bachelors 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 for the season opener 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 after averaging two-plus hours of rehab per day. Sobol has started seven games at strong safety and ranks sixth on the team with 29 tackles.
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 Wolfes 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 Steeles Magazine.
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 NIUs TDs came on Devon Butlers 26-yard INT return.
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.
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 tied for the third-highest total in school history, while the six attempts tied for the second-most in a 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. Cklamovskis 15 points in that game is tied for the seventh-highest total in Huskie history.
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 years 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 Kills 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 Kills 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 Novaks staff.
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 Zebrowskis 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.
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.
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill is proud of the academic accomplishments of his team, topped by the 50 football players who have earned their bachelors degrees in the past two years under Kill. The football teams 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. NIUs 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.