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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Breaking Down Toledo

By Thomas Hiley | October 29, 2015
Sports writer Thomas Hiley breaks down the key players for the Rockets as they prepare to take on the Huskies at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio. The Huskies have defeated Toledo five straight times dating back to the 2009-10 season, when the Rockets won a 20-19 affair against NIU.QuarterbackToldeo star senior quarterback Phillip Ely has led his team to an undefeated season at 7-0 and ranked at number 20 in the college rankings. This is the most he has played after missing some of last season due to a knee injury and sitting out the year before in 2013 after transferring from Alabama and having to redshirt. Ely has started in all seven games this season, throwing for 15 touchdowns on only seven interceptions. He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 682 yards and nine touchdowns on 3 interceptions in his last two starts against Eastern Michigan and Massachusetts. Ely currently averages 247.7 yards through the air for the Rockets.Running backSophomore running back Terry Swanson is the leading rusher for the Rockets with 595 yards and five rushing touchdowns after a slow start — he missed the first game and had just one carry in the second. Swanson was listed as the number three running back on the depth chart coming into this season, but somehow found his way as the leading rusher, running for over 100 yards in three of the five games that he has played this season. This season has been a strong leap for Swanson from last season when he rushed for 732 yards, good for second for the Rockets and 10th in the MAC and averaging 6.5 yards-per-carry which was 15th in the country.Offensive LineThe Rockets offensive line has been exceptional this year, not allowing a single sack on their starting quarterback Phillip Ely. The o-line has kept its starting quarterback upright, allowing him to make the plays necessary for the team to win. The Rockets have the second highest rushing attack in the MAC behind the Huskies at 213.1 due to the play of the offensive line, and the fourth ranked passing attack with 257.9 yards, giving them a very balanced offense.Defensive LineSenior defensive tackle Orion Jones, who was a second-team All-MAC selection last year, has been a workhouse for the Rockets’ defense. Jones has already come close to his season total from a year ago this year — he has totaled 33 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks on the season in only seven games. The Huskies’ offensive line will have trouble if it isn’t able to contain Jones as he is a force to be reckoned with and can take junior quarterback Drew Hare out of the pocket.LinebackerRedshirt junior linebacker Jaylen Coleman has become the No. 1 will-linebacker for the Rockets after being a reserve linebacker in the 2014 season. He came up with only 23 tackles last season and has already surpassed that this season with 48, the most on the Rockets defense. He also has been able to get to the quarterback, picking up 2.5 sacks on the year with one interception and one forced fumble.SecondaryRedshirt senior cornerback Cheatham Norrils missed the entire 2014 season due to a viral illness, but has been able to start in every game this season for the Rockets. Norrils is the third leading tackler on the team through seven games. He’s been a shut-down corner whenever the ball comes his direction, causing eight breakups and eight pass deflections. Norrils has also been able to come from the secondary to rush the quarterback for 3.5 sacks on the season.

Top 5 stories | No. 1: NIU football conquers the MAC — again

By Frank Gogola | May 4, 2015

Football has cemented itself as a dynasty in the MAC as it won its third MAC Championship in the past four seasons.The Huskies won those three MAC Championships under three starting quarterbacks: Chandler Harnish (2011), Jordan Lynch (2012) and Drew Hare...

Top 5 newcomers No. 1 and top 10 athletes No. 2 | Kelsey Hildreth runs greatest cross country season in program history

By Frank Gogola | May 4, 2015

Kelsey Hildreth, freshman cross country/track and field runner, crosses the tape as Sports’ No. 2 athlete and No. 1 newcomer.She put together the greatest season in cross country program history and has carried that success over into the track and field...

Gogola: Coach Bennett resigns, but Athletic Department refuses to say why

Gogola: Coach Bennett resigns, but Athletic Department refuses to say why

By Frank Gogola | May 4, 2015

Kathi Bennett, who resigned as the women’s basketball head coach on Wednesday, lived and breathed basketball; her unbriddled passion and fire for basketball adds to the mystery of her resignation from NIU without any mention of why.Bennett was wholeheartedly...

Top 10 athletes | No. 1: Women’s tennis’ Nelle Youel serves up sensational senior season

By Frank Gogola | May 4, 2015

Women’s tennis senior Nelle Youel ends her NIU career as the most accomplished player in program history and the No. 1 athlete on Sports’ top 10 list.Youel, selected to the All-MAC First Team, became the first player in program history to be selected...

NIU football: Da’Ron Brown drafted by Kansas City Chiefs

By Frank Gogola | May 4, 2015

Da’Ron Brown, former NIU wide receiver, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft on Saturday.Brown, a 2014 All-MAC Second Team selection, was drafted with the 16th pick of the seventh round — the 233rd overall...

NIU cross country: Adrian Myers fulfills NIU dreams

By Frank Gogola | April 30, 2015

Illinois native Adrian Myers said he is more than excited to take the reigns as head coach of the cross country program.Myers will also serve as an assistant track and field coach with the distance runners. Myers replaces Greg Hipp, former cross country...

Top 5 stories | No. 2: NIU football crushed at Homecoming

By Frank Gogola | April 30, 2015

Football’s latest home loss was more than just an average loss, which is why it comes in at No. 2 in Sports’ countdown of the top five stories.The Huskies’ 34-17 loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas on Oct. 11 at Huskie Stadium came in NIU’s...

Top 10 athletes | No. 3: Amanda Corral all-around star for NIU women’s basketball

By Frank Gogola | April 30, 2015

Amanda Corral, women’s basketball senior guard, shoots her way up the list to No. 3 on Sports’ countdown of the top 10 athletes.Corral, who was named to the All-MAC First Team, led the Huskies and ranked fourth in the MAC with 16.2 points per game....

Top 10 athletes | No. 6: Shawn Scott goes to NCAAs for 1st time

By Frank Gogola | April 27, 2015

Redshirt sophomore Shawn Scott wrestles through the bracket to No. 6 in Sports’ list of top 10 athletes.Scott, wrestling in the 197-pound weight class, went 23-13 overall and 14-5 in dual matches en route to the NCAA National Championships. He went...

Top 10 athletes | No. 5: Volleyball’s Mackenzie Roddy garners several awards

By Frank Gogola | April 27, 2015

Mackenzie Roddy, volleyball senior outside hitter, spikes her way to No. 5 in Sports’ countdown of the top 10 athletes.Roddy earned nods to the All-MAC First Team, the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-Midwest Region Team and the AVCA’s...

Top 5 stories | No. 3: Facilities Master Plan unveiled

By Frank Gogola | April 27, 2015

Athletic Director Sean Frazier’s Facilities Master Plan sets up camp as the No. 3 spot on Sports’ countdown of the top five stories of 2014-15.The Facilities Master Plan, unveiled Oct. 30, calls for new athletic complexes and upgrades of current complexes....