Defense comes up big

By Matt Hopkinson

While the offensive statistics and display put forth by NIU against Central Michigan may seem more appealing, what the defense was able to do trumps that.

It was able to do something twice in this game that it only managed to do once in the other four combined: Create a takeaway.

These takeaways came at the most crucial points in the game. With Central Michigan quarterback Ryan Radcliff staring down an open receiver in the end zone, junior defensive end Joe Windsor batted the ball into the air and it landed right in the arms of senior defensive end Sean Progar. Just like they practiced it, right? In a way, yes.

The coaches and players have been adamant that a lack of takeaways are not for a lack of preparation in their training sessions. Creating turnovers just hasn’t materialized in the games. The defensive line did not get a whole lot of pressure on the quarterback, as they did not register a sack, but what they did do was just as important.

They didn’t play as well as they have in the past, but what they did do made a bigger difference than having a few extra sacks.

The turnovers they forced allowed an offense, that was scoring seemingly at will, to get back on the field and do what they do best.

This wasn’t a game that goes down in the record books for all time best performances, as there were missed tackles, blown coverages and several big plays made by Central Michigan.

What they did was very Chicago Bears-esque. They bent, but they never really broke.

They had some big plays against them, but they made the timely turnovers that effectively allowed them to win the game.

With what the Huskies offense has been able to do, efforts like this from the defense will go a long way in securing a shot at repeating for a MAC championship.