Huskies hope to continue home streak against Minutemen

By Matt Hopkinson

As the University of Massachusetts is dealing with a natural disaster back home, the Huskies have sympathy but will show little mercy on the field come Saturday.

The Minutemen (0-8, 0-4 MAC) are brand new to the MAC and have found no luck so far this season, tallying 90 total points up to this point.

The Huskies (8-1, 5-0 MAC) are looking to reach 20 straight home games without a loss when they enter the game.

Coach Dave Doeren has a high level of familiarity with the squad his team will be going against.

“This week we come home and play a UMass team that’s making the jump obviously to an 85 scholarship team,” Doeren said in a news conference. “I’ve coached at that level with two different places that they were at. I know a lot about UMass’ program from when I was at Montana. They’ve had a tradition of being a very good team. Blue collar, tough guys.

“They get really good players there. They’re long. They can run. They’re really young. You can see that Coach [Charley] Molnar’s playing some really young kids but they are athletic and they’re long.”

UMass has not found any real success on the field, but as Doeren mentions, they are ranked No. 1 in kick-off coverage. The focal point of Molnar’s gameplan, like all other coaches’ this season, will revolve around attempting to stop junior NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch.

“Offensively, their quarterback is such a great dual threat,” Molnar said in a news conference. “He’s a really good passer, but I think he’s an even better runner. That will certainly be a real challenge for us on defense. On offense, their defense is fast and in the right place at the right time. They are physical and just an overall solid football team—probably the best football team in the Mid-American Conference.”

With the explosive offensive ability NIU possesses and the rate at which UMass has given up points, the defense of the Huskies stands to be on the field for extended periods of time.

Senior defensive end Sean Progar believes the coaches are responsible for keeping the defense ready.

“We know our offense is going to put up the points and they are going to put them up quick,” Progar said in a news conference. “So that means teams are going to have to start passing the ball. We think our pass defense is one of our strengths with our defensive line getting after the quarterback and our secondary covering.

“It works out with our offense putting points up quickly and teams are forced to put points up as fast as they can, as well.”

Doeren believes that while the Minutemen do not have a lot to offer, it’s more about what NIU does than what its opponent is going to do.

“I know the record doesn’t show it, but like every week, we’re going to compete like we have to every week and try to come out of it with another win,” Doeren said in a news conference. “The bottom line is we want to control our own destiny as we continue. That’s the biggest thing we need to do at the end of this week.”