This spring it seems like we've been pretty fortunate on the injury front. However, a few guys have went down and some other player have been switched around to fill their spots. I'm thinking about putting all of this info on one page, an 'Injury Report' to keep track of all the players hurt for both NIU and other MAC schools. It's a work in progress, but here's what has been happening on that front so far:
Senior DE Mike Kritikos will be out for the rest of spring with a left leg injury.
Junior Darnell Bolding has been moved from LB to DE
Bolding is an interesting character in that he enrolled early last spring from a JUCO, but still redshirted last year as a junior. The reason could have been anywhere from academics to not being able to grasp the system. Coming out of High School, he was very highly touted with offers coming from several Big 10 schools. At 6'2" 215 lbs, Bolding was already somewhat small at the LB position. Here's a take from one of the coaches:
"We've moved Darnell Bolding down to try and get more of an athletic end on the edge in those passing types of situations," defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. "We're going to try a few kids there this spring to generate that pass rush."
If Bolding can put on a little more size, he can be an absolute terror in the backfield, especially in 3rd down situations. We've been converting a few safeties to linebacker lately and this seems to be an evolution of the mindset of putting smaller, faster guys in position to wreak havoc.
Senior RB Justin Anderson will be out for the rest of the spring with a right foot injury. Also, Sophomore RB Alan Smith is out with an ankle injury.
Justin Anderson was already struggling to keep up in the race to get carries at the running back spot, and now this injury will make it that much harder for him to get ahead. It's interesting to note that Anderson was the leading rusher for the Huskies in 2007, but due to the coaching change he has seen a lot less carries in Coach Kill's offensive spread system. Either of the three running backs in Me'co Brown, Chad Spann and Ricky Crider will have to step up big. Behind them, there's nobody else at this point. RB Alan Smith only played in the blowout of Toledo last year.
Redshirt Freshman Tommy Davis will switch from WR to CB.
Although Chris Smith's injury only lasted around a week, it showed just how fragile the cornerback situation is on this team. It puts both projected starters Patrick George and Kiaree Daniels on an island with no proven talent to back them up at CB. Not to mention, George is continuing to practice with a broken hand. Hopefully, somebody can step up at defensive back sometimes this spring or summer with a couple freshmen coming in. We need all the help that we can get and this defensive backfield needs to stay healthy. I can foresee Tommy Davis playing on both sides of the ball.
EXTRA Position Change
Junior Ed Jackson moves from DL to OL
Coach Kill's reason for the change:
"Moved Ed over to give him a chance," Kill said. "He's just not fast enough and not athletic enough to play on the defensive line. We've moved him over and it's hard to evaluate him. But we've thrown him in there and he's got to learn what to do. Physically he can do things. He's not a bad athlete in there."
Jackson played in 11 games in 2007 and even started a couple of the early non-conference matchups, but fell off last year playing in only the Toledo garbage time. His weight may have been an issue. Ed came to NIU weighing 230 lbs and has since balooned to 285. The whole situation is a little odd, because even Novak liked to recruit smaller, faster defensive lineman when he was coach of the Huskies. Hopefully Jackson can find his way on the depth chart on O-Line somehow.