Balanced offense key for Huskies

By Sean Connor

Tennessee Tech’s strength may be it’s biggest concern.

Coming into its game against NIU Saturday, the Golden Eagles have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Sept. 24, 2004.

They lead the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring defense and have allowed 57.5 yards a game passing. They’re a team coming off a 52-10 victory over Lambuth.

But NIU will bring something TTU has never seen. NIU offensive coordinator John Bond’s wildcard: Garrett Wolfe.

After two games against Big Ten opponents, Wolfe has racked up an average of 196.5 yards per game. He’s the nation’s leading rusher.

He’s in the top six in every rushing category in the nation; in the MAC, he’s in the top two.

Conventional wisdom would say that if TTU is going to have a chance Saturday, it must stack the box and slow down Wolfe. Or will it?

“I think that’s a wrong route,” said Wolfe. “If they stack the box, Phil [Horvath] can beat them. He passed for almost 300 yards last week. And our wide receivers have prove[d] they can go up and catch the ball.”

It’s a balanced offense that can keep a defensive coordinator awake at night.

Try to stop Wolfe and leave open the passing game. Drop back into coverage and face Wolfe’s ability to rush for more than seven yards a carry. It’s a hard offense to stop, said Bond.

But balance or no balance, NIU is a running team this year, just as they have been every year. And when you have a player like Wolfe, he’s going to get his carries.

“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Bond said. “He’s a guy who can take any play and turn it into a touchdown. He poses problems for every team.”

Before the season, Bond had to hear about all the nation’s great running backs. After two games, there’s no doubt in his mind that NIU’s No. 1 is better than all of them.

Wolfe knows the defense he’s up against and he knows TTU will be gunning for him. But he doesn’t care. It’s not the yards or the title of the “nation’s top rusher” that matter to him. In two games, there is one thing he and his teammates lack: a win.

And right now that’s all he wants. Anything short won’t cut it.

“If I get only 50 yards and we win, that’s what matters,” Wolfe said. “I’m tired of losing.”