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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

COLUMN: Discipline, poor offense catalyze home-opening loss

Three takeaways from football’s deflating loss
Nyla Owens

After beginning the season 1-0 with a road victory over the Boston College Eagles, NIU football (1-1) came up short in its home opener, falling to the Southern Illinois University Salukis (2-0) 14-11.

In order to bounce back with a win on Saturday in Lincoln against the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, (0-2) the Huskies must play clean football, the defense must continue to shine and the offense must improve. 


The Huskies committed seven penalties for 70 yards in Saturday’s game against Southern Illinois after committing just four penalties for 35 yards against Boston College. In the win over Boston College, the Huskies committed six fewer penalties and in the loss to Southern Illinois, the Huskies gave up 31 more penalty yards than the Salukis. 

If the Huskies can play clean and limit penalties, they will have a great chance to earn their second victory over a power five school of 2023. 


The Huskies’ defense has been the team’s strongest unit thus far, surrendering just 19 points per game through the first two games and recording 5 sacks against Southern Illinois. 

Sophomore defensive end Roy Williams and redshirt sophomore defensive end George Gumbs are tied for fifth in the MAC with 1.5 sacks. The Huskies’ defense has surrendered 167 fewer yards than the offense has managed through two weeks.

Given the Huskies’ front seven can continue to win the battle in the trenches, they will give the offense more than an opportunity to beat Nebraska.


The Huskies’ offense has struggled in the early going, managing just 11 points against Southern Illinois University and averaging 19 points per game. Redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw three interceptions against the Salukis and the Huskies’ averaged just 1.9 yards per rushing attempt.

Despite the shortcomings on offense, Lombardi is tied for first in the MAC with 462 passing yards and senior wide receiver Kacper Rutkiewicz is second in the MAC with 185 receiving yards. 

In order for the Huskies’ to come out victorious against Nebraska, Lombardi will need to take care of the football and the Huskies rushing attack must improve.


The Huskies’ next game will be at 6 p.m. Saturday against Nebraska. The game will be televised on FS1 and live stats will be available via statbroadcast

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