NIU football was recently redeemed when facing Kansas, a team it lost to last season. Saturday, it will get another shot at redemption.
Central Michigan (2-1) defeated the Huskies (3-1) in Mount Pleasant last season, which was the only defeat the Huskies suffered from any MAC team last season.
“It’s a game that I know our players are excited about,” said coach Dave Doeren in a press conference. “I don’t walk into a meeting room and put a big circle around anybody, but I know this is the one team last year we went up there and did not play well. But they played really well and made a lot of really nice plays on both sides of the football. We fought all the way until the end to make it a game, but I did not feel like coaches, including myself, had our team ready to play.”
Central Michigan will feature a heavy run attack and prototypical quarterback play, as senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff does not run the ball.
One thing that remains a possibility is the utilization of the wildcat offense, which NIU saw last week at Kansas.
“I know Central does it and we expect to see it,” Doeren said in a press conference. “We’ll have our plan and we’ll have to adjust our plan based on the things they do. I think that’s just part of the first half of the season, is adjusting on defense. You’ve got to have really sound rules and you’ve got to be able to adjust on the sideline and fix things quickly.”
Doeren knows the 4-2-5 defense that Central Michigan will run against them. This helps NIU prepare on the offensive side of the ball.
“We have to be able to win one on ones in coverage,” Doeren said in a press conference. “I’ve played against it several times, and so have many of our coaches. They’re not the only team doing it in our conference. The biggest change for them is really not the 4-2-5 as much as it is the zero blitz and the one high blitzes that they’re bringing a lot of.”
Senior defensive end Sean Progar believes that, defensively, last season there was much to be desired. He knows the Huskies will look to correct mistakes.
“I think the biggest thing on defense is we didn’t tackle,” Progar said in a press conference. “We didn’t tackle well on defense and we have had some games this year where we had trouble tackling and I know we are going to emphasize it this week and another thing is turnovers. With all the talk about the offense not having the same firepower I haven’t noticed this year. They have been doing well they have been scoring as much as they can and if we can get them the ball back a few more times I’m sure they will put more points up on the board.”