It is no secret NIU football has thrived in the running game this season. While the offensive line and tight ends receive most of the credit for blocking in the run game, the wide receivers deserve recognition as well.
The wide receiving core pride themselves on an ability to open up holes for quarterback Jordan Lynch and their running backs.
“We work on blocking every day,” said wide receiver Perez Ashford. “Whether it’s cut-blocking or standing up blocking, or even blocking linebackers, people bigger than us, it’s definitely important and we go through it every day.”
This season on the ground, the Huskies have rushed for 3,252 yards and they average 235.6 yards a game. They have also rushed for a school-record 44 touchdowns.
“They have done a great job,” said coach Rod Carey. “Coach [Frisman] Jackson has done an unbelievable job with those guys this year. I mean, they have bought in.”
Catching the ball has become the wide receivers' second job, as their primary job on the field is to block.
“Coming into NIU, if you don’t block, you’re not going to play,” said wide receiver Martel Moore. “It’s about blocking and then catching the ball. We learned that as soon as we got here and stepped on the field. You got to block to play. We take that as a big challenge for us every game.”
They helped Lynch set a school-record for rushing for 100 yards in 12 games, and 11 games in a row. Lynch has also rushed for 19 touchdowns this season, tying him for the second on the school's record.
Lynch has also rushed for 19 touchdowns this season, leaving him which is tied for second, behind Chad Spann’s 22 in 2010.
In the regular season finale, they helped spring running back Akeem Daniels for a career-high four touchdowns and 112 yards.
The wide receivers can think of no better reward than seeing their teammates run into the end zone for a touchdown.
“When Jordan or Akeem score, the wideouts are always the first ones down in the end zone to celebrate,” Ashford said. “You can just tell how excited we are; whether it’s a pass play or a run play, we’re always the first ones down there.”
If the Huskies look to continue their strong play on the ground, the blocking of the wide receivers will be a key to the matchup against Florida State.
“It’s definitely one of the most important factors that we have as a wide receiving core,” Ashford said. “That’s our main goal and every week against every team opening up and getting the run game going is what opens us up to get the ball. Plus, if you got a good running game and it’s working well, especially down the field blocking, it’s hard to stop an offense like that.”