Special teams kick Huskies while they are down in Ames

By Chris Dertz

AMES, IOWA | Before last Thursday night’s football opener, NIU head coach Jerry Kill remained unsure about who was going to be kicking field goals in 2010 for the Huskies.

After erratic performances and windy conditions caused a total of three missed field goals in NIU’s (0-1) loss to Iowa State, the position may still be up in the air.

Taking kickoff and place kicking duty for the Huskies was University of Illinois transfer Michael Cklamovski. The redshirt senior did well on kickoffs, but missed both of his first-half field goal attempts.

Cklamovski had zero attempts of both field goals and extra points during his career at Illinois.

Freshman kicker Mathew Sims eventually made his first career field goal attempt in the second half. But to hear Kill say it, the problems weren’t all Cklamovski’s.

“[Iowa State place kicker Grant Mahoney] is darn good, and he missed one out there too,” Kill said. “The wind had a lot to do with [the erratic kicking].”

The windy conditions also had an effect in the punting game, as NIU’s lone touchdown came from a drive that began on Iowa State’s 40-yard line.

That good field position gave the Huskies the confidence they needed to punch the ball in and stay in the game.

“The whole offense, our confidence definitely rose,” said NIU tailback Chad Spann. “We were going out there and moving the ball. We just had to keep that up and get back into the game.”

During the postgame press conference, Kill talked about repairing some of the mistakes that NIU made during its season opener. The Huskies’ kicking game, after two missed field goals, is one area that needs to be rectified.