Run defense a big part of Huskies victory

By Brian Thomas

While the offense gets the credit for NIU football’s success game after game, the team’s defense had just as much to do with its 37-7 victory over Akron on Saturday.

One phase of the Huskies’ defense really stood out against the Zips: their run defense.

In a game where the Zips carried the ball 37 times, they only managed to run for 42 total yards on the ground. Akron’s freshman starting running back, Jawon Chisholm, ran the ball eight times for 13 yards, an average of 1.6 yards per carry.

NIU’s defense didn’t allow senior quarterback Dalton Williams to gain any yards on the ground, as he ran six times for negative 44 yards.

Williams’ biggest loss on the ground came in the second quarter when senior defensive end Sean Progar stopped him for a 12-yard loss, forcing a fumble that was recovered by junior defensive tackle Anthony Wells.

Progar would finish the game with three tackles, two of them combining for a loss of 21 yards and one sack for a loss of nine yards.

It all started at the line of scrimmage for the Huskies, as they recorded four sacks on the day and 10 tackles for a loss.

“We won the line of scrimmage, that’s where it starts,” said coach Dave Doeren in a news conference. “We tackled well and our secondary covered well. Coach [Jay] Niemann and coach [Ryan] Nielsen had a good plan drawn up and the kids executed it.”

Senior linebacker Tyrone Clark was all over the field for the Huskies as he recorded five tackles, three of them coming for a loss, combining for a loss of six yards. Junior defensive end Joe Windsor added four tackles with one and a half of them coming for a loss, combining for a loss of 10 yards.

Windsor, along with senior defensive end Alan Baxter, is tied for second in the MAC with six and a half tackles for a loss. Windsor’s tackles have led to a loss of 44 yards while Baxter’s have led to a loss of 43 yards.

The Huskies now rank fourth in the MAC in run defense, giving up 1,242 yards on the ground in eight games this season. They give up the second lowest yards per carry at 3.6, behind Bowling Green’s 3.5.