- Continuing to churn out Spring Football coverage in Dekalb, John Sahly's most recent article for the Chronicle details the intense competition to claim the two open spots on the right side of the offensive line. The extra practices leading up to the Independence Bowl were used as a tryout by RG Panan Tense and RT Kevin Skatrud. The OL battle won't be stopping anytime soon:
"That’s probably something you’re going to be asking me all the way until we get on the bus to go to (NIU’s first opponent) Wisconsin," NIU offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover said.
Sahly also continues his quest to interview every single person on the NIU Football team down to the waterboy (not that that's a bad thing at all!) with an audibly-challenged talk with resident badass Defensive Tackle DJ Pirkle:
- In other position battle news, Chris Dertz of the Northern Star reports on how deep the linebacking corps is this year for the Huskies:
Coach Kill isn’t losing any sleep over the state of his linebackers after losing the voice of his defense in Tim McCarthy, however. Kill’s confidence stems from the amount of experience that Schiller, along with fellow linebackers Alex Kube and Cory Hanson, gained while rotating in last year.
“They all [Kube, Schiller and Hanson] played a tremendous amount, so we felt like they were starters a year ago,” Kill said. “Those guys have been here, and they know what they need to do. It’s their turn, and it’s their time to step up.”
“I feel very good about our linebacking corps,” Kill said. “That’s the least of our worries right now.”
But wait, doesn't that contradict what Coach Kill said at the beginning of the spring?
"Defensively, we need to add depth at linebacker," Kill said. "On the other hand, we feel like we have a lot of depth in the defensive line. That should be a war zone for competition, because we have a lot of good players in the d-line."
Was Kill mis-quoted? Or are his switching the positions of 3 players to linebacker finally working out? It's like night and day! I'll try and follow up on this.
- Huskie Happenings does a Q & A with DT Adam Coleman. One day after I do my Q & A with Kyle Jenkins...concidence? Here are some of my favorite answers:
Why did you decide to come to NIU? The location, being close to home (Bettendorf, Iowa) and the coaches, especially (head) coach (Jerry) Kill. I'm also a business major and the business school here is highly respected.
Word to the NIU College of Business, whose undergrad program just got rated 73rd in the nation, which is extremely good for a Public University
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A priest.
What is your favorite movie? The Replacements (football movie starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman released in 2000).
A Priest? Really? Coleman may be a saint off the field, but he is an absolute monster on it. The Replacements is definitely an underrated movie (one of my faves).
- In addition to that, the 4/7 edition of Huskie Wire (it's weird that you can only link to a certain date after it's been archived) also brought us this nugget of information:
Tomorrow is Signing Day for all the sports except football, men's and women's soccer, and track and field. Many fans haven't heard of "signing day" outside of the context of THE signing day, when football adds its annual class. Two months after that one, we have this one, where sports like wrestling, gymnastics and of course men's and women's basketball can make hay.
This little statement is wrong in the sense that according to the official NCAA site, National Signing Day for the Regular Basketball Period actually takes place in one week from today on April 15th.
- In other news, Ben Gross of the Northern Star likes Thunderstix. So does Coach Kill. And PJ Fleck.
P.J. Fleck, Huskie wide receivers coach, shared a similar love of these noise makers with me last fall. When researching the 2003 season, Fleck told me how visiting coaches from the ACC, Big 12 and MAC said NIU was one of the most hostile environments to play in.
Yet, with under 30,000 fans in the stadium, how could this be? I mean as hostile as "The Swamp" was what Fleck said. Was he referring to the swamp outside of Louisiana Tech?
OK, maybe that’s a bit too soon, but you get my point. Nope, according to Fleck, NIU was a hostile environment on the level of major programs. It was all due to the rowdiness and noise the fans, who were extremely close to the field compared to many other stadiums, created.
A large part of this noise, according to Fleck, was, as you guessed it, the result of Thunderstix.
You heard it here first, Athletic Department. Let's get this Thunderstix situation out of the way EARLY so we can have maximum home field advantage for the entire season next year.
In covering the same topic, Huskie Happenings redeemed itself with this unbelievable, kickass, AC/DC-themed post. I really have to post it here to be seen and believed. It's intense:
THUNDER! OOOhhhhAAwwwOOhhaAwwwOOOOooo THUNDER!
As AC/DC would put it, Ben Gross of the Northern Star is a bit Thunderstruck. As the former Lincoln Laureate and ump-teenth year senior (to be fair, he is in grad school now) discusses in this article, he wants Thunderstix at all the football games next year. Well, Ben, I don't know much about much. But I do know the student support for football has been T.N.T., and, while every once in a while there may be a Problem Child at our home games, I can say there's a very good chance that For Those About to Rock at 2009 NIU Huskie Football, Thunderstix will be available for a least one game. So, Shake A Leg, and get your TICKETS today!
The excessive puns were a Touch Too Much. But hey, I'll let it slide.
- Larry English Mocks so far this week:
29th to the Giants (Fantasy Football Jungle)
29th to the Giants ($ Todd McShay)
- Pro Football Weekly debates about where Larry English will fit in the draft with so many questions still up in the air. The most interesting part about this article were the comments by Coach Kill backing up his stud player:
"He dominated the league," said Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill, who coached English for the first time in 2008. "He just wasn’t a good player, he dominated. People couldn’t block the kid and, to me, for a guy they’re looking at as a possible first-round draft choice, you have to dominate and he dominated."
"He’s a can’t-miss guy," Kill said. "I only coached the kid for a year and for me to say that, I don’t go off the limb. I knew Brandon Jacobs was a freak of nature because you could look at him and I knew Bart [Scott] was. You know when somebody has that ‘it factor’ and whatever ‘it’ is, Larry English has got ‘it.’ "
"I’ve been coaching for 25 years and you better judge people how they play," Kill said. "They’re never timed in shoulder pads and full gear in front of 90,000 people."
I'm especially a HUGE fan of that last comment by Coach Kill.
In terms of questioning the competition that English played against all year, the article had this to say:
Scouts high on English point to examples where he played up to the level of his competition. His best efforts of the 2008 season came in away games against Tennessee and Minnesota — Northern Illinois’ only two BCS-level opponents. English totaled eight tackles, 4½ tackles for loss, 3½ sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in those two contests.
“Look at the past and a good majority of the MAC players that come out are successful,” English said. “At the end of the day we’re all football players and these guys have a chip on their shoulder because of always being not respected.”
Just an FYI: The Spring Game is on the same day as the NFL Draft (again).
April 25th. Mark it down!