Two-a-days start TODAY in case you were wondering. Time to get serious.
IT'S HOT! It's been a mild Summer so far before these last few days which are truly the dog days of August. Three NIU players went to the hospital after Saturday's practice for dehydration after the first practice in pads and the short turnaround from night practice the day before. Time for the players to saddle up:
"To be honest with you, I'm glad we got some heat because you never know what's going to happen on Sept. 5 [for the season opener at Wisconsin]," said NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill. "The temperature affected us today, for sure, and you have to see who handles it when it gets tough out there."
"Right now we are trying to throw everything at them in the first five or six days, and it's not going to look too good at first," Kill said. "We're trying to find out who are going to be the guys you rely on every day. Who is going to step up and be consistent."
The coaches are trying to counter this with somewhat of a slowdown plus extra mandatory water breaks.
Coach Kill provides this little nugget on what he did when he used to play in the heat:
"When I was playing we got salt pills and no water, they thought that was a great thing," Kill said. "I don’t know how we did it back then. Maybe we were just such bad athletes – I know I was – that there were no muscles to cramp up. Every 20 minutes I tell them to drink because we’ve got water out here all over the place. Kids are built different, this is a different era."
Ch-ch-CHANGES. Coach Kill is NEVER afraid of changing players around to new positions. This is the case for redshirt FR Dan Edem. Kill is so impressed with the Schepler/Beckner/Cunningham/Groeniger depth at TE that he has been moved over to the defense as yet another addition to the linebacking corps:
"I don't know if it's permanent but it's permanent for the next few days," Kill said.
Walking wounded. The most important news on the injury front is that speedy WR Nate Palmer's knee injury isn't serious and he should be back in action sooner than later. Same goes with DB Donald Smith:
Sophomore wide receiver Nate Palmer (knee) and junior cornerback Donald Smith (knee) are out of practice for about two weeks, Kill said. Smith hurt his left knee during Monday's practice. Palmer could be back to action in a week. Kill said he doesn't expect that either player will miss the season-opening game at Wisconsin.
I guess this is an appropriate time as ever to post Donald Smith's profile picture. I found this little gem yesterday:
Larry's replacement. The former Marine just turned 25 on Sunday and is looking to make a huge impact this season:
Defensive end Jake Coffman has pretty much gone wherever he's wanted through six practices. It's still too early to tell if that means great things about Coffman or poor things about the offensive linemen he's going up against.
Freshman impact. Who will be the guys that will play in their first season as a Huskie? The coaches provide some hints:
"We have four new linebackers, and they are all doing a good job adjusting to this level of football," Matukewicz said. "Tyrone (Clark) has done a good job; he's physically gifted but what I am more impressed with is his maturity, and his ability to fit into the system. He really takes pride in knowing his role and what to do out there on the field.
Catching the football, it helps. Freshman WR Perez Ashford is my favorite to receive early playing time due to this fact:
Do you remember our coverage of National Signing Day, when freshman wide receiver Perez Ashford's high school coach said that in three years Ashford had dropped only two passes? That reputation seems pretty accurate so far.
The last 30 minutes of practice is quickly becoming the most exciting period to watch.
While the veterans stretch, the rookies get their turn to get reps and show what they can do. It's also been when the coaches have been the loudest and celebrated more with every successful play. Kill was downright spry as he high-stepped to celebrate a run by running back Antoine Kirkland.
Trouble for the Madison O-Line? Starting C John Moffit (Pec Strain) and starting RG Bill Nagy (wrist injury in Scooter Accident) are both out with injuries at this point in camp. Moffit's is the most serious and may keep him out of the opener though.
Kyle Warber of Fire Up Chips provides the most unique MAC West preview yet. He has: 1. CMU 2. NIU 3. Toledo 4. WMU 5. Ball St 6. EMU. He either hates the Broncos or has a lot of respect for the Huskies. I'll take the latter.
Phil Steele was at MAC media day. His thoughts:
Coach Bill Cubit of Western Michigan feels good about his inexperienced defense. This guy would be a great hire for a BCS program if they wanted someone to instill discipline in the program and build a perennial winning team.
COUGH indiana COUGH
Most improved QB’s this year. Here are two guys that should have HUGE improvement in their passing starts from last year.
CHANDLER HARNISH – Northern Illinois – Last year he completed 55.9% with a 8-9 ratio with just 152 ypg. Coach Kill feels he is right up there with the other MAC top QB’s in LeFevour and Hiller. Last year he threw for 326 yards against Minnesota but then was injured and never really 100% the rest of the year.
Michigan's new Indoor Practice Facility makes me drool.
If college football progams were pro wrestlers (BHGP). A must read.