Huskies can’t take Bowling Green lightly


The Huskies line up against the Bowling Green State University Falcons in their home game Nov. 1, 2016. NIU won the game 45-20 on senior night.

By Tom Burton

The football team is preparing for a matchup against the Bowling Green State University Falcons that should not be taken lightly.

Although the Falcons are a lowly 1-6 and 1-2 in the Mid-American Conference, the team’s strengths and weaknesses don’t suit the Huskies well.

Head Coach Rod Carey said the Bowling Green’s record is not indicative of the skill of the football team.

“[Bowling Green] is a really good football team,” Carey said. “I know their record isn’t indicative of how they have played this year. They have great talent on both sides, well coached, and I think that it will be an extremely hard challenge for us this week.”

The Huskies have been a dominant defense, ranking No. 7 in the nation in total defense and ranking No. 1 in yards per carry allowed at 3.93, according to the NCAA’s official website. The offense has not been the same story, as the Huskies are still trying to find themselves, especially at the quarterback position.

Carey announced Tuesday he will be going with redshirt freshman Marcus Childers to start the game against Bowling Green. Childers got his first career win as a starter in the team’s 14-13 win at Buffalo Saturday. Even with the win, most of the credit goes to the defense.

Bowling Green is, essentially, a complete opposite football team, when compared to the Huskies. The Falcons are a decent scoring offense but struggle to defend, allowing just under 33 points a game, compared to the Huskies allowing just under 17 a game.

The Falcons allowed over 40 points to their opposition twice this season, including allowing 48 points in their loss Saturday to the Ohio University Bobcats.

The biggest worry for NIU going into this trap game against Bowling Green is that good offense usually beats good defense. The Falcons have no issues with scoring the football, as they have averaged 30 points a game in their last three outings.

In the midst of trying to find themselves on offense, especially at quarterback, the Huskies only scored 14 points in their win Saturday at Buffalo. Credit for the win is given to the defense primarily, as the offense was a bit of a struggle.

One of the main issues with the offense has been the place kicking, as senior kicker Christian Hagan has had a tough start to the season. Carey has not been shy about voicing his concerns about his field goal kicker.

“Christian had an awful day on Saturday,” Carey said. “I don’t want to speculate into the future with kickers, it is kind of a day-by-day thing; we just have to get him back on the right track.”

The defensive numbers for Bowling Green may seem deceiving, but they could cause the Huskies problems. With Childers being a running quarterback and NIU’s heavy reliance on the ground game of redshirt junior tailback Tommy Mister and senior running back Jordan Huff, the Huskies have become a primarily running offense.

“[Childers] runs the ball, [and] he runs the ball physical,” Mister said. “[Childers] is an amazing athlete, [and] I [have] nothing but good things to say about him.”

The Huskies need to be careful with that strategy as Bowling Green leads the nation in fumble recoveries with 11. Although the Falcons have allowed a lot of points to begin the year, the Huskies might play into their defensive strengths.

The Huskies will have to hope their defense can continue to hold up as players like sophomore defensive end Sutton Smith, redshirt junior linebacker Jawuan Johnson and redshsirt senior linebacker Bobby Jones IV look to continue to lead the defense.

Jones IV is coming off a good week, earning MAC West defensive player of the week honors with two sacks and six tackles in the game against Buffalo. Johnson said the defense is working well together and continues to push each other.

“Everyone [on the defense] is feeding off of each other,” Johnson said. “Everyone sees another person making a play, and it makes [themselves] want to make a play. Everyone is just bringing it because everyone wants to make a play.”

Let’s hope the defense can continue to support the struggling NIU offense. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.