Saturday, June 4, 2011

Northern Illinois Huskies 2010 Review

Northern Illinois Huskies
2010 Record: 11-3 (8-0), 1st MAC West
2010 Bowl Game: Humanitarian Bowl, Defeated Fresno State 40-17

     Every season, the Huskies seem to find a new leader, someone to pile up behind and drive to success. This was the case in 2010 when it came to QB Chandler Harnish. Harnish was a one man wrecking crew in Coach Jerry Kill's final season, as he passed for 2530 yards and 21 TDs, while finishing 2nd in rushing with 836 yards and another 7 scores. Harnish, a junior, brings his multi-threat capabilities back in 2011, making NIU a front runner once again.
     The Huskies will, however, miss the extreme talents of RB Chad Spann. Spann was a beast in his NIU career, and wrapped up his senior season by rushing for 1388 yards out of the spread. Spann scored an incredible 22 TDs on the season to give NIU one of the most dynamic player combos on offense to be found anywhere. Spann rushed for 223 yards and 2 scores in an 11 point win over Minnesota to highlight his season and had 3 games with 3 scores each in a 4 week period.
     The good news in the receiving corps is that 4 of the top 5 receivers do return in 2011. Willie Clark was the leader last fall with a line of 42-602-7. Martel Moore also reached 40 grabs, as he posted a line of 40-525-4 on the season. Landon Cox, the lone senior, was 3rd on the team in receptions, as he posted 35-429-3. Nathan Palmer finished 2nd on the team in yardage, as he posted 29-532-6, while leading the receivers with an average of 18.34 yards per catch amongst qualifying receivers.
     The defense was not entirely dynamic, but was solid for the Huskies. There was a healthy balance of youth and experience which allows for 3 of the top 4 tacklers to return next season. Alex Cube, a senior LB, led the team in tackles with 81, but sophomore LB Devin Butler was right behind him with 80. Tyrone Clark, another sophomore LB, finshed 3rd with 77, and Tommy Davis and Chris Smith, both DBs, broke the 70 tackle barrier as well. Smith was a senior last fall, and finished with 70 tackles, while Davis, a sophomore last season, had 70.
     The Huskies got solid pressure up front from their line, as two linemen finished with double figures in TFLs. Jake Coffman was the leader, and averaged more than one per game, as he finished with 16 TFLs last fall as a senior. Sean Proger, who was a sophomore, should slide right into his leadership role, as he finished last fall with 10. Butler and Nabal Jefferson, a sophomore lineman last fall, are next in line to step up. Nobody had double figures in sacks, a situation that will have to improve if the Huskies wish to reduce the 203 yards per game passing that they gave up last fall.
     Smith was a huge playmaker in the secondary last fall, as he led the team with 12 passes defended. The senior had twice as any plays on the ball as any other Husky last year. Patrick George, another senior DB, knicked away 6 passes on the season. Clark led the team with 4 picks, and took one back for a score.
     Michael Cklamovski was a bit of a weak link at PK, having only connected on 17 of his 27 FG attempts. He also managed to miss on 6 PATs on the year, so his graduation was probably not fretted over all too much. Mathew Sims takes over this falll after hitting on 2 of 3. Josh Wilber was also a senior and handled the punting duties last fall. He averaged 40.41 yards per punt, and he was the only Husky that handled the job last fall.
     Tommy Davis was the leading kick returner last fall, as he racked up 553 yards in returns last fall, and also took one back for a TD. Davis was also the leading punt return man last fall, but only ran up 142 yards on the season.
Final Notes
     The Huskies closed out last season by winning 10 of their last 11 games last fall. Jerry Kill was able to cash in that performance by being named the new head man at Minnesota, which the Huskies defeated 34-23 last fall. Dave Doeren arrives from Wisconsin to take up the job, and he is inheriting a winning situation coming off one of the best seasons ever for NIU. The Huskies got solid production from almost every area of their team last fall, and there is enough of that talent returning to hold up hope for another run at the MAC title, something they fell short of in the title game, next fall.

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