DeKALB | The frigid weather made yet another appearance while the NIU football team had its third spring practice Saturday afternoon.
But besides the nagging cold, there was a visible difference from the Huskies' two previous practices.
NIU players donned pads for the first time, with some full contact toward the end of the practice.
"The defense definitely had our number today, and it's going to be like that sometimes," Huskie running back Jamal Womble said. "You never know, some days we'll get the best of them. It's going to be a battle."
NIU's defense had some delightful moments against the offense, especially in the secondary.
Cornerback Dominique Ware had two picks against backup quarterback Jordan Lynch but his first interception was quite the spectacular effort.
Redshirt sophomore receiver Perez Ashford and Ware tussled for a Lynch pass, where Ware would eventually come up with the football and interception.
Sophomore defensive back Jimmie Ward continued to look geared to attack the football, making a couple ball-swatting plays in the secondary.
These are all good early signs for a Huskie secondary that will be looking to replace six contributing seniors from last season.
NIU head coach Dave Doeren stated that the gusting winds were more in favor for the Huskies secondary than Lynch and starting signal caller Chandler Harnish.
"When the wind is blowing as it did today, it's a good day to be a [defensive back]," Doeren said. "They made the plays when they were there and that's what they've got to do."
NIU's offense wouldn't go completely quiet, as Womble, a newcomer in the backfield, had a run of his own.
The Hutchinson Community College transfer took a Harnish handoff and bolted for a 50-yard run.
"The right side of the line kind of dominated the [defensive] line on that particular play," Womble said. "They left me with a big hole, so I didn't have much work to do. I got in the second level and took it from there."
Doeren stated that the Huskies need to fine tune a few things as players continue to learn and transition over to new terminology from the Jerry Kill regime.
But it's clearly evident to Doeren how willing and ready his team is to hit the field.
"This is a team that likes to work hard, that likes football," Doeren said. "You tell them to be out here at whatever time, and they're out here early. The coaches are like, ‘Alright, guess we're going now.' That's how they are; they love football."