Breaking down NIU’s first half


Brian Belford

It’s very hard for me to say this, because it seems like time has acquired light speed rocket boosters these days, but the football season is half over for NIU.

So, after seven games, and a 4-3 record, where do the Huskies stand?

We can look at the stats for an idea. NIU ranks at the top of the MAC in two categories: total offense and points scored per game and second in total rushing yards.

On defense, the Huskies rank ninth in both rushing and passing yards allowed, and they are ranked 12 out of 13 teams in total defense.

From these statistics, it’s clear the team relies heavily upon its strengths: the offensive line, the running game and quarterback Chandler Harnish. While it offers on the job training to fix its weakness: the defense.

NIU can score a lot of points, as evidenced by four blow-out victories at home. However, the defense has prevented the Huskies from beating some teams on the road that they should have beaten, allowing an average of 47 points to those opponents they played away from home.

Despite these stats, the Huskies’ identity remains a mystery because of their inconsistent play. They’ve had some unexpected losses, especially to Central Michigan and Kansas, but after blowing out Western Michigan, they’ve also had some unexpected victories, so they certainly hold the keys to their own destiny concerning where they might go in the next seven games.

Simply put, this team is a wild card. They are the hyped up, let you down, toy with your heart and then appear to be the team everyone though they were at first kind of a group.

With that in mind, the Huskies can still go either way. They are a team capable of losing more games, but they also have the feel of a team about to go on a winning streak.

Eli Gehn

When NIU entered the 2011 campaign, there were a lot of high hopes for it to win the MAC.

On opening night, the Huskies lived up to those expectations with a beat down over Army.

Then everything kind of went downhill.

NIU lost its next two matchups against Kansas and Wisconsin, then got upset by Central Michigan.

The defense looked like it was going to hold the Huskies back from competing for that ultimate goal of a MAC Championship.

However, the last two performances from the NIU defense against Kent State and Western Michigan has given them that resurgence it needed at this point in the season.

The offense has been running effectively in most cases this year, and they seem to keep getting better each week.

With five regular season games remaining, NIU’s defense has to keep its momentum going to finish the season strong. It seems as if head coach Dave Doeren and the coaching staff have figured out a way to make the Huskies look like a team that people were expecting heading into the season.

Defense wins championships. And at this point during the season, there’s no room for mistakes.

Tony Osborne

There have been some highs and lows in the first half of NIU’s 2011 season.

At 4-3, that is not where a lot of people expected the Huskies to be, but winning out is not out of the question for a powerful offense and a newly polished defense.

Although the Huskies’ defense started to play as a whole unit, the defense has just recently picked up the consistency of their game.

The defensive line has seen many improvements throughout the early going of the season, developing into the rock on the defensive side of the ball.

Linebacker Pat Schiller leads the team in tackles during the sudden defensive resurgence.

The question marks surrounding the defense should be erased with a strong performance in the home stretch.

The offense has performed as expected, scoring over forty points in every game but one against Wisconsin.

With Chandler Harnish being such a dual threat, only the Badgers have found the answer to stopping the redshirt senior quarterback.

The barrage of runners for NIU were effective against the top teams in the MAC so far, with no signs of slowing down.

None of which could be done without the veteran offensive line.

The four out the five Huskies’ lineman are seniors and have been together for all four years of their respective careers.

With that said, the offensive line as a whole has my vote as MVP so far.