Sam Malone | Managing Editor
… accidentally impressive.
The football season has been full of wins, and no one can deny that, but some of those victories weren’t as clean as they should have been. The defense played a strong game throughout the season, even when competing against top-tier teams, but there were still missed opportunities, especially among the offense.
While it’s true that the Huskies have stepped up since last season, the fumbles, interceptions and sacks only happened because of sloppy mistakes. I’m not questioning the talent of the team; they’ve displayed incredible stamina and talent, but it’s a happy coincidence some of the careless mistakes made didn’t end up costing the team their games.
That being said, it’s been an incredibly fun season to watch with close calls and great plays, keeping us on the edge of our seats, and the Huskies should be well prepared for the MAC.
Michael Urbanec | Sports Editor
… a purist’s dream.
Anyone who has complained about the fall of great defenses in college football hasn’t seen NIU some of the Mid-American Conference’s more high-octane offenses. Stars like redshirt junior defensive end Sutton Smith and redshirt junior linebacker Antonio Jones-Davis have kept NIU’s defensively conservative brand of football alive. The offense is traditional as well; redshirt sophomore running back Tre Harbison and junior running back Marcus Jones carved up defenses as the focal points of an old-school, smash-style football team.
Not to be outdone are the special teams, who lead the NCAA in blocked punts and field goals in some sort of Belichickian fantasy of a season. Punter Matt Ferentz has gone unheralded for much of the season, but he has made a habit of pinning opposing offenses deep in their own territories, doing so 23 times out of 65 punts. Special teams are extremely important for a team who plays as conservatively as NIU.
Jayce Eustice | Sports Writer
… a roller coaster ride.
Any fan who has followed Huskie football this year knows the limitations of the team. At times, sophomore quarterback Marcus Childers looked like a nervous pee-wee football player who was thrown into the quarterback position with no warning. In other games, he has clearly shown the ability to make plays with his arm, but more importantly with his legs. Throughout the inconsistency of the offense, one steady force has been fantastic defensive play. Junior defensive end Sutton Smith and company. have wreaked havoc on opposing offenses, while leading the nation in sacks.
While flashy offenses and high-flying touchdowns excite crowds, the Huskies found a way to win games leaning on the dominant defense. If football really is won in the trenches, NIU likes their chances with anyone.