NIU defense gets fired up against Cal Poly

By Tony Osborne

The NIU football team (2-2) displayed its typical offensive prowess against Cal Poly (1-3), but it was the defense that was the topic of conversation on Saturday.

Although the Huskies gave up 294 total rushing yards against the Mustangs, the true colors of the defense shined early in the game.

One of the biggest differences between this week and the previous games was getting off the field on third down.

“The defense was better on third down, going 9-12 to get off the field,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren.

NIU senior linebacker Pat Schiller set the tone early with a crushing sack of Cal Poly quarterback Andre Broadous, leaving the Mustangs to punt from deep in their own end zone.

“I thought we executed our assignments great in the first half,” Schiller said, “You have to give a lot of credit to Cal Poly for making a few changes that we hadn’t practiced.”

That motivational surge off of the Schiller sack may have been just NIU needed, seeing as the Huskies haven’t had many moments to cheer about on defense this year.

Doeren called in some reinforcements to get the Huskies’ defense fired up.

Prior to the game, former USC and NFL hard-hitter Ronnie Lott spoke to the team prior to taking the field against the Mustangs.

“The word of the week for us was pride – taking pride in this game and what we do on and off the field,” said Schiller, “[Ronnie Lott] exemplified that on the field.”

Schiller and some of the other Huskie players watched YouTube videos on Lott, idolizing his hitting, defense and pride he took in playing the game.

“He is one of the best to play his position, and one of the best to play the game,” Schiller said. “That definitely fired me up and the rest of the team.”

That motivation helped boost the Huskies over their second triple-option team of the young season.

Though the option run netted the Mustangs nearly 300 yards, the hungry Huskies defense only allowed 75 yards through the air.

Although the Huskies dominated the option teams on the scoreboard, Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh believes that many of the NIU players are pleased to be moving on from this part of their schedule.

“They are probably happy that they don’t have to play triple-option teams every week,” Walsh said.