Football key players: Chandler Harnish, Armand Robinson

NIU Quarterback Chandler Harnish

Andrew Singer

NIU

QB Chandler Harnish

Digging into a pile of stats isn’t necessary to find NIU’s key player for this week’s game against Miami (OH). At MAC Media Day in July, NIU head coach Jerry Kill made it clear that his team needed good quarterback play if they wanted a spot in the MAC Championship. In week two, Chandler Harnish seized control of the starting job and hasn’t looked back. The redshirt junior has passed for 1,949 yards, while throwing 17 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. For his play in 2010, the MAC named Harnish to the All-MAC first team on Wednesday.

Coming into the season not even assured of a starting spot, Harnish can’t really comprehend everything that has happened to him in three months.

“I don’t think I completely understand the feelings that I’m feeling,” Harnish said. “It’s kind of a surreal feeling and I’m trying to take it all in right now.”

Even though the RedHawks have hovered in the middle of the pack in passing defense all year, Harnish respects Miami’s slow and steady approach.

“Their defense makes you earn what you get, they tend to not really give up the big play,” Harnish said. “They’re smart players that make you execute.”

Miami (OH)

WR Armand Robinson

In week nine, the Huskies narrowly edged out Western Michigan 28-21 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Due in large part to the play of WMU wide receiver Jordan White, the Broncos gashed NIU through the air that day to the tune of 360 yards. The senior wideout caught 15 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

Friday against Miami (OH), the Huskies will be going up against a similar receiving threat in Armand Robinson. The senior has 76 receptions on the year for five touchdowns and 805 yards. The RedHawks are third in the MAC in passing offense, averaging 255 passing yards per contest.

Coming off a one-win season, Miami turned its football program around with timely offense and steady defense. After looking at the RedHawks on film, NIU head coach Jerry Kill has been impressed with what Miami head coach Michael Haywood has been able to do in his brief two-year tenure.

“I think coach Haywood has really changed the culture down there,” Kill said. “He has them playing the way the he wants them to. On offense, they’re getting good quarterback play and they’re wide receivers are fantastic, they are good as any wide receivers we’ve played.”