Faceoff: What do you want to see in the spring game this Saturday?

By Andrew Singer

Andrew Singer: Through four weeks of spring practices, first-year head coach Dave Doeren has been working to put his imprint on the Huskies.

The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator concedes the Huskies have a long way to go before they even begin to resemble the type of team he wants.

After watching NIU practice this past month, though, it is easy to see the differences between him and Jerry Kill. Perhaps the biggest difference is the no-huddle offense that Doeren is attempting to install. This Saturday will give NIU fans an opportunity to see a progress report on the offense.

Jimmy Johnson: From my conversations with the Huskies’ offensive coaches, getting acquainted with the no-huddle has been one of the biggest adjustments.

NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish and backup Jordan Lynch have started to get comfortable in the up-beat system.

But I’ll be keeping my eyes on the Huskies’ backfield, where junior-college transfer Jamal Womble appears to have taken a lead in the carries race. NIU running backs coach Eddie Faulkner told me earlier that there will be a number-one back on the depth chart, but that doesn’t eliminate the opportunity to carry the rock for other backs.

I’ve also liked what I’ve seen from Akeem Daniels so far, and I’d like to see what Cameron Bell will do after sitting out a considerable amount of time with a hamstring injury.

AS: Running back is a huge question mark as far as experience goes, but the amount of talent in the backfield isn’t an issue.

So, I think everyone can sit back and relax when it comes to the running backs. I feel that quarterback is the only position on offense that should draw concern.

Chandler Harnish was the 11th most efficient quarterback in the FBS last year, but a no-huddle offense is an entirely different beast.

There are only so many Jim Kellys in the world that can take a no-huddle offense to the promised land. That said, I will be watching Harnish closely to see how comfortable he is with the offense four weeks into it.

JJ: Well speaking of the Buffalo Bills, hopefully we won’t be seeing any Scott Norwood moments from the Huskie kickers. Thank goodness they don’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders, since it’s only a Spring scrimmage.

Sorry, I just had to get that in there.

Moving along, on the defensive side, the area that has stood out the most to me has been the cornerbacks. Jimmie Ward has made a play in about every practice, and I’m expecting big things from him Saturday.

Rashaan Melvin and Dominique Ware have both made some noise of their own, too. It will be entertaining to see them go up against an emerging and deeply talented wide receiver group.

AS: The wide receivers have had their good and bad days this spring, but with veterans like Nathan Palmer, Willie Clark and Martel Moore, it’s hard to imagine NIU is in any danger at the position.

The wide out that may make a name for himself this Saturday is Jamison Wells. The redshirt sophomore spent last season on the practice squad, but has used these last four weeks to make a case for playing time this fall.

In all honesty, the backups are going to be the only ones that may have their place on the team this fall impacted.

To everyone else, this is just a spring football game.