Huskies set to take on Western Michigan

By Chris Dertz

Everyone’s got to leave home sometime.

After spending its last three games at home, NIU football will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. Saturday looking to extend its winning streak to six games against the Western Michigan Broncos.

The Huskies (6-2 overall, 4-0 MAC) sit atop the MAC West on the strength of their longest winning streak since 2004 and will be going against history in Kalamazoo.

“Sometimes, when you get on the road, you concentrate even more because it’s just you and them,” said NIU head coach Jerry Kill. “This game is one of those that we play at noon, so there’s not a lot of lying around. We shouldn’t have any excuse not to be ready.”

Western Michigan (3-4, 2-1) has won 12 of the teams’ 17 contests at Waldo Stadium, where the Broncos are 1-2 this season.

While the overall records might show disparity between the two teams, Kill knows what Broncos coach Bill Cubit’s teams are capable of.

“They look for matchups and they’re consistent,” Kill said. “I think we’re, at this point in time, doing a good, solid job in all phases of the game.”

It will be up to NIU’s secondary to play well against the pass, as Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder has been prolific all season long.

Carder has completed 61.8 percent of his passes this season for 1,939 yards and 15 touchdowns thus far.

The Huskies’ defensive backs will be bolstered against the Broncos’ passing attack by the return of safety Tracy Wilson. Arguably NIU’s best defensive player, Wilson’s presence will bring some excitement and added athleticism to the NIU secondary.

We’ve missed him out there,” said NIU safety Tommy Davis. “He made some things happen out there on the field that a lot of people can’t make happen. He brings some energy and some excitement to the defense.”

The Huskies’ defense will need some extra energy in dealing with the Broncos’ wideouts.

Juan Nunez and Jordan White have both caught 50 passes this season, for 591 and 758 yards, respectively. Each receiver has also hauled in five touchdowns through the air.

“You have to worry about those two guys, but about the time you worry about those two guys, another one shows up,” Kill said. “[Cubit] is very good at matching personnel and getting matchups. That’s certainly a concern for us.”

Western Michigan will have its fair share of concerns as well, dealing with one of the nation’s top rushing attacks in NIU.

The Huskies have amassed 247.5 yards per game on the ground, to go along with 18 rushing touchdowns.

Senior Chad Spann isn’t the only story in NIU’s backfield, either. The Huskies’ two leading rushers behind Spann, quarterback Chandler Harnish and tailback Cameron Bell, are each averaging over six yards per carry.

One of the biggest reasons for NIU’s ground game success has been continuity on the offensive line, where four players have started every game in 2010.

“I think any time you have that continuity up front, it’s important,” Kill said. “You have to be very smart, very intelligent to play that position and those five have to communicate. When you get offensive lineman injured, it’s a tough, tough road.”