The Huskies’ Fab Five

By Brian Belford

Unless you have been living in a cave or under a rock, you have witnessed some of NIU football’s most prolific offenses in the past two years.

The myriad of success enjoyed by the Huskies’ offense this year, and last, is largely due to the play of the starting offensive line.

Four out the five starters up front for NIU are seniors, (center Scott Wedige, right guard Joe Pawlak, left tackle Trevor Olson, right tackle Keith Otis), while left guard Logan Pegram is a junior.

The longevity and familiarity the group has with each other helps explain the expertise they have shown on the field.

“We really built chemistry,” Otis said. “When you’ve been on the same line with a guy for two years, you get a good idea of how he will pass off blocks, how he plays the game and how his play will affect you.”

Familiarity breeds contempt, but not for this family of five.

“We’re friends off the field,” Olson said. “On the field, we all get along. We’re kind of like a family.”

This group knows each other so well that they hardly have to speak on the playing field anymore.

“I think we know each other just by body language,” Pegram said. “I can tell what Trevor is usually thinking, I can tell what Scott is feeling and we do a pretty good job about knowing if something is going right or if something is going wrong.”

This lack of verbal communication has enabled the line to run smoother and more efficiently.

“When you have played together for so long, everyone just starts to see it and do it,” Wedige said. “And it’s nice to just make some little line calls rather than echoing it and echoing it and echoing it. With a lot less calls, you can just go out there and do your thing.”

The non-verbal skills have translated into precise blocking execution, but the Huskies starting five doesn’t smile much on Saturday.

“There are a lot of mean guys in our lineup,” Wedige explained. “Myself, Pawlak, Logan, Trevor and straight down the line to Keith: everybody has got a little bit of a mean streak in them, a little edge. But that’s kind of the mentality you have to have as an offensive line.”

Otis said playing mean is a must for success.

“Playing with a mean streak is the whole key to offensive line play if you want to be good,” Otis said.

The stats speak for themselves:; quarterback Chandler has broken five school records; NIU leads the MAC in total offense; and in 245 pass attempts, NIU quarterbacks have been sacked only five times.

Even as the recognition keep pouring in, perfection apparently has not been reached.

Pawlak, whose fellow teammates described as the “most intense” lineman, said improvements can still be made.

“The great thing about us is we’re never satisfied: there is room for a lot of improvement,” Pawlak said.