Offense looks to shake slump

By Carl Ackerman

As NIU’s football team begins recuperating from Saturday’s 23-14 loss to Toledo, it will be wondering what happened and focusing on correcting these mistakes during this week’s practices.

The NIU offense sputtered throughout the night against the Toledo defense. The Rockets allowed the Huskies just 15 first downs and 325 yards on the night compared to UT’s 22 and 361, respectively.

UT allowed NIU’s quarterback Stacey Robinson to complete just five of 22 passes (66 yards), and held the “Sauce” to 21 yards rushing in the second half. NIU was also held off the scoreboard in the second half.

“We were very inconsistent the whole night,” said offensive coordinator Mike Summers. “I don’t think it was a bad day for us or a bad game, we were just really inconsistent.”

Summers said Saturday’s game was the most inconsistent performance by NIU this year and gave several reasons.

“Things are starting to catch up to us. We’re not a surprise to anyone anymore. Everybody knows who Stacey is, and everybody knows we have a good offense. Everyone is worried about us so it heightens their motivation and intensity to play against us. We’re a senior-dominated football team, and several of our key players are not able to be at practice during the week because of class conflicts,” Summers said.

NIU is changing that this week by moving Wednesday’s practices to the evening.

UT’s defense had all the motivation and intensity it needed to slip by NIU.

“(UT) was pressuring the scrimmage with nine to 10 players. When we had an opportunity to throw the ball, it was obvious. When we tried to do this, Stacey was not completing his percentage of passes as he was in our first two games,” Summers said.

obinson completed 71 percent of his passes until the Toledo game when he hit just 23 percent (five for 22).

“When two teams play, the team that is in sync and does the executing is going to win, and the team that’s not sharp and not executing is going to lose. We realize that and know it was the problem (Saturday),” Summers said.

After NIU took two drives the length of the field in the first half, Summers was under the impression NIU could handle the UT defense.

“At halftime, we felt our triple option play was successful in the first half and would continue to do that. We felt like play-action passes were available too,” Summers said.

However, NIU’s impressions were wrong.

“In the second half, we had opportunities to run and throw the ball, but I think we just did a poor job of consistently executing to take advantage of our chances. We would have three or four good plays and then two or three bad ones. Then we would have to punt,” Summers said.

Last year, NIU beat UT 39-27 at home. Summers said there were many differences between that game and Saturday’s. When the two teams battled last year, it was NIU’s tenth game. This year it was NIU’s third game. Also, the Huskies are coming off a “devastating” loss to Nebraska (60-14).

“We played well against (Nebraska) and lost by a tremendous amount of points, and when you compete like we did that hurts you. It’s hard to shake off,” Summers said.

This Saturday NIU will host Kansas State (2-0).

“It will take a maximum effort to beat them. Kansas State has the emotion and confidence behind them and we just lost two. We’re trying to dig down deep inside ourselves and see what’s there,” Summers said.