Defense stands tall against Northwestern

By Frank Gogola

Football’s defense proved Saturday its performance against Presbyterian in the season opener wasn’t a fluke.

After the season-opening 55-3 trouncing of the Presbyterian Blue Hose, of the Football Championship Subdivision, there were questions about how the Huskies (2-0) would handle bigger, stronger and faster competition. The defense more or less answered those questions in a 23-15 victory over the Big Ten’s Northwestern (0-2).

The defense did give up 394 total yards of offense as the Wildcats converted 14 of 23 third-down attempts; however, the Huskies came up with big plays when they needed them.

“I have never seen a perfect football game. There won’t ever be one,” said head coach Rod Carey. “We got a lot to clean up offensively, defensively and [on] special teams. But, we made enough plays at key moments that got us the victory today. It’s game two. [In a] perfect world, you would like to play your best all the time, but really as the season goes on, you play better and you get things ironed out.”

Redshirt junior cornerback Paris Logan intercepted Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian midway through the first quarter when the Wildcats were driving and it looked like they were poised to start the scoring. Logan’s interception was a one-handed catch in the end zone.

“I felt like I didn’t play the ball as well last game in the air,” Logan said. “Like coach Carey said, it’s going to come down to our individual battles. I took that personally, and I wanted to win on every down. I just read the receiver’s eyes and turned around and found the ball. It just fell in my hands. [I] turned around and it just was there.”

With the Huskies up 10-7 early in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats threatening, NIU forced a turnover on downs as Northwestern passed up a field goal attempt to go for it on 4th & 6 from NIU’s 29-yard line.

“We basically just played man coverage,” Logan said. “… Coach [Carey] told us to just tighten up and play man coverage, play tight defense like we normally do. We just knuckled up and played man defense.”

The front seven made their impact felt as the game went on, setting up camp in Northwestern’s backfield. The Huskies tallied seven tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries.

“We got a feel for their pass sets and the little things that they do,” said junior defensive end Perez Ford. “Once we figured that out we were able to ball out.”