NIU looking for daylight at ASU

By Brian Wiencek

Week 3 of college football begins and NIU’s schedule takes the Huskies to Jonesboro, Ark., to face the Arkansas State Indians (0-2).

The game marks NIU’s (1-1) first day game of the year, with Saturday’s kickoff set for 1:30 in Indian Stadium.

OK, 1) Ray Perkins coached in the NFL and was the successor to Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama. OK, 2) the Huskies haven’t won a road game since October of 1990. But let’s be totally realistic and honest with ourselves.

1) Perkins is not a miracle worker. NIU head coach Charlie Sadler put it best.

“Pro background or not, that doesn’t make other coaches across the country any less talented,” said Sadler. “Ray Perkins is an excellent coach, but players make the difference.”

That could be a problem for Arkansas State seeming as they only returned 15 starters from a year ago. One of those fifteen will not be quarterback Roy Johnson, who used up his eligibility. Johnson placed No. 1 in nine categories of the Arkansas State record book.

2) Most of NIU’s eight-game road losing streak originated last year when the Huskies played teams like Iowa, Florida and Fresno State. This is Arkansas State, and Perkins, in the Indians’ first home game of the year, feels that the home field advantage will be anything but that—an advantage.

“It’s a convenience,” said Perkins. “It avoids not having to get on the bus and get on the plane. You play on the same size football field every week whether it’s at home or away. I really don’t look at it like a lot of people do, saying that it will help us to play at home.”

NIU brings in the No. 2 punt returner in the nation in Steve Rodgers (33.7 yd. avg.) and the No. 33 rusher in the nation in LeShon Johnson (103 yd. avg.) in hopes of earning its second victory in three games.