Huskies ability to adjust leads them to victory over Western Michigan

By Matt Hopkinson

There are a plethora of reasons that NIU football was able to win its eighth straight game of the season with its victory over Western Michigan Saturday.

One reason that could be cited is the play from junior quarterback Jordan Lynch. Another reason could be that the offense of Western Michigan did not play well in the second half.

More directly related to the outcome of the game was the ability of NIU to make adjustments. Its second half defensive adjustments were the reason why the Broncos offense did not play well.

Coach Dave Doeren believes one issue was at the line, but that it was also about overall effort.

“They came out in what we call a swing-of-gate type formation in the first half,” Doeren said in a news conference. “We had to get our guys adjusted to what they were doing out there and then they had seven offensive line men or six, not sure, with extra gaps. I just think they were playing for a bowl game today and they knew they needed this win and we got their best shot. At half time we just made our adjustments and played our best defense in second half.”

That defensive effort, which included a 44-yard interception return by senior linebacker Jamaal Bass to set up a touchdown, was a key difference in the outcome of the game.

The adjustments came not only defensively, but offensively. The Huskies made a change at the punt return position, with senior receiver Perez Ashford missing time due to an ankle sprain they put in sophomore TommyLee Lewis.

Lewis responded by returning four punts for 75 yards, including a 44-yard return that set up a scoring chance. On the day, Lewis posted 175 all-purpose yards and caught two touchdown passes.

“Anytime the guy touches the ball he’s pretty electric and he is finally healthy,” Doeren said in a news conference. “We’re pretty beat up right now, so in order to have a guy feel good like he did today was big.”

Also getting in on the touchdown receiving game was redshirt sophomore Da’Ron Brown, who caught two touchdowns of his own. Brown, who has received more playing time in the absence of Ashford, made his limited touches count, with two of his four catches being scores.

Aside from Brown, Doeren has also elected to get redshirt freshman Juwan Brescacin into the mix in the receiving game, which has paid off with big plays.

Brescacin only caught one ball against the Broncos, but it went for 38 yards. Brescacin has shown a penchant for the big play; with only five catches on the season, he has 129 yards.

While some of these moves are more of injury necessitating change, Doeren has tried multiple looks and is not afraid to go to a hot hand or a producing player. This is turn has given his players a chance to succeed and, lately, that is all they have done.