With temperatures hovering in the high 20s at Huskie Stadium, NIU football head coach Dave Doeren put the Huskies through their second spring practice on Thursday morning.
The first-year head coach said he saw noticeable improvements after a somewhat shaky Tuesday practice. Still installing a no-huddle offense, Doeren said he liked how the team picked up the tempo of play.
"The snaps were a lot better today, and the guys were a lot more relaxed," Doeren said. "I was real happy with the communication on defense. Playing a fast-tempo offense you need to be able to communicate with each other."
Doeren hasn't raised his voice much through the first two days of practice. The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator has instead chosen to take careful notes, while overseeing the work of his assistant coaches.
After watching 7-on-7 work on Thursday, Doeren singled out redshirt junior safety Tommy Davis as the player that impressed him the most.
A member of the 2010 All-MAC third team as a returner, Davis had several pass breakups on Thursday morning, and was like a coach on the sidelines when not scrimmaging with the team.
"I'm trying to pass what I know on to the younger guys," Davis said. "If I see different offensive alignments, I'll tell the younger guys because I know guys like Mike Sobol and Tracy Wilson did that for me when I was coming up."
Quarterbacks Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch had noticeable difficulties throwing the ball on Thursday morning. Harnish had a pass attempt broken up before throwing an interception on his next throw to redshirt sophomore linebacker Gervaise Porter. As is expected on the second day of spring practice, neither quarterback seemed to be on the same page with their receivers.
Doeren credited the secondary, but believed the poor passing day had more to do with the cold temperatures than anything the defense did.
The Huskies return to the field on Saturday from 11:40 to 1:45 p.m. where they will be in full pads for the first time this spring.
"We've been in pajamas for the first two days," Doeren said. "We start playing football on Saturday."