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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Western Michigan Breakdown

By Thomas Hiley | November 12, 2015


Quarterback: The Broncos' passing offense ranks first in the MAC with 290 yards per game and 15th overall in the nation. Quarterback Alex Carder has played like a passing wizard, throwing for close to 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. NIU head coach Jerry Kill is familiar with Carder, having Kansas ties and was even interested in recruiting him. "He can run a little bit, can throw it and is very well coached with some good mechanics," Kill said.

Grade: B

Running back: Western Michigan running back Aaron Winchester doesn't get a lot of love in the backfield. Since Western Michigan is so pass-heavy, they don't rely on the ground game but that isn't going to stop Kill from his game plan to silence their run game. "They always have two or three receivers who will make your life difficult," Kill said. "And about time you think that's all they're going to do, they run for 150."

Grade: C-

Wide Receivers: Huskies' starting corners Patrick George and Chris Smith better be on their game Saturday afternoon. The Broncos' receiving core is headlined by All-MAC preseason pick Jordan White. The senior leads Western Michigan in receiving yards with 758 and is tied with fellow upperclassman Juan Nunez with five scores through the air.

Grade: B +

Offensive line: Left tackle Anthony Parker is the anchor of the Broncos' offensive line. The junior made the All-MAC preseason team and is a listed at 6'4" and 332 pounds. The interior of Western Michigan's line consist of all seniors in guards Phillip Swanson, Nick Clemens and center Nick Mitchell.


Defensive line: Defensive end Paul Hazel leads the Broncos with 5.5 sacks while ranking fifth on the team in tackles. Hazel resides from Florida, an area that Kill said that Western Michigan has plucked players from. "Defensively, they've gone to Florida, Georgia and recruited a ton of people," Kill said. "They are athletic as all get out on defense."

Grade: C+

Linebackers: Besides Hazel, outside linebacker Dex Jones is the Broncos' second best pass rusher ranking second on the team with four sacks. Containing this pass rushing combination will be critical for NIU to establish themselves on offense. Inside linebacker Mitch Zajac has played strictly like a tackling machine by not recording any other defensive statistic.

Grade: C

Secondary: Jamail Berry plays the "rover" position, which requires him to play both in the secondary and linebacker level. Berry leads Western Michigan with 47 total tackles. Cornerback Lewis Tolers leads the Broncos with three interceptions . Western Michigan ranks fourth in the MAC in pass defense allowing close to 200 yards per game.

Grade: C+

Special Teams: Huskies' punt block guru Jimmie Ward will have an opportunity to block one of the MAC's best punters in Ben Armer. The junior is averaging 41.5 yards a boot. Kicker John Potter has connected on six of seven field goal attempts while hitting all 29 of his point after attempts.


Coach Rod Carey at the Sept. 6 game against Northwestern University.

NIU football’s Rod Carey set to get $70,000 in bonuses for MAC Championship win, bowl appearance and more

By Frank Gogola | December 10, 2014

Football head coach Rod Carey is in line to receive bonuses in the sum of $70,000 for the Huskies’ performance on and off the field.Carey is scheduled to make a base salary of $400,000 for the period beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and will get bonuses worth...

Kill named Big Ten coach of year

By Northern Star Staff | December 3, 2014

Jerry Kill, Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach and former NIU football coach, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.Kill picked up conference coach of the year honors in the coaches vote and the media vote.Kill led the Golden Gophers to an 8-4 overall...

‘Five in the Sky’ honors victims in Feb. 14 shootings

By Brooke Shinberg | February 13, 2013

Between the third and the fourth quarters of every football game, the team, support staff, band members and fans put up five fingers in memorial for the Feb. 14, 2008, victims. The tradition, known by the team as “Five in the Sky,” was started by...


NIU players face pressure

By Matt Hopkinson | December 28, 2012

Life at a so-called mid-major is tough. You’re often overlooked, under-appreciated, and get ditched by your head coach before a bowl game. NIU has experienced all of the above the last few years, losing two coaches in a row before its bowl game appearances,...

Northern Star File Photo

Compher, Peters support Doeren extension

By Jimmy Johnson | April 10, 2012

The decision to give NIU football coach Dave Doeren a contract extension was discussed before the Huskies won the 2011 MAC Championship and Bowl, said NIU athletic director Jeff Compher. Compher said the decision was also based on the fact...

Players leaving NIU raises major concerns

By Jimmy Johnson | April 3, 2012

Two years ago, NIU football was hit with a major loss when then coach Jerry Kill bolted for Minnesota. It was a decision that left many bitter, upset and questioned what went into Kill’s choice to leave. Soon after the Kill departed, Jeff Compher, NIU...

Return to the field

Return to the field

By Jerry Burnes | March 28, 2012

A bird call echoed through Huskie Stadium as spring practice opened Wednesday, signaling the return of one of NIU’s wounded brothers. On a sunny, seasonably warm March afternoon with the wind whipping around the field, linebacker Devon Butler was back,...

A breakdown of the MAC West quarterbacks

By Eli Gehn | July 19, 2011

Ball State The Cardinals are counting on new head coach Pete Lembo to help the passing game. Lembo coached the second-best passing attack with the Division II Elon Phoenix, and hopes to bring the same numbers to Ball State. Sophomore quarterback Keith...

Northern Star file photo

5 minutes with Huskie’s quarterback , Chandler Harnish, as he talk about the improvements and changes the team is making

By Eli Gehn | July 19, 2011

DeKALB | NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is heading into the 2011 season as the only representative for the MAC Conference to be on the Maxwell Award Watch List. The award is given to America's outstanding collegiate football player. Sixty-six college...

Column: Kill’s departure a classless gesture

By Chris Dertz | December 6, 2010

NIU fans have no reason to be upset with Jerry Kill for taking the head coaching job at the University of Minnesota. Those same fans have every right to be upset with how Kill did it. Consider this: at Sunday night's annual football banquet at NIU, Kill...

RedHawks ground NIU’s running attack

By Jimmy Johnson | December 6, 2010

DETROIT | Not once did an opposing defense hold NIU to less than 100 yards rushing during their 10-2 regular-season run.Unfortunately for the Huskies, Miami (OH) would be the first to hold its running game in check in the MAC Championship game on Friday...