Finally made my way to Dekalb for Fan Day and the scrimmage this morning. Sorry for the late report, my internet transformed into a less than 56k modem somehow.
Practice started at 9:50 and it was HOT out there under the sun. Luckily there was a nice breeze and some spots where you could get some shade right under the stands. I picked up a schedule poster as I left, which I am really excited about hanging in my room. They also had "Experience it Live" yard signs, which I thought about taking a bunch and randomly placing in peoples yards. But I decided against that plan.
Met up with some message board lurkers and I apparently I'm famous because Huskie beat writer John Sahly said hi as well before I got the chance to introduce myself to the true celebrity. He told me he loves his job and plans on doing a podcast in the near future (awesome). Sahly went double duty today posting both scrimmage stats AND a report on the scrimmage.
My head was spinning trying to get a read on the depth chart and who wore what number on the field, so I live-blogged just some generic stuff. The offense looked good early on in the scrimmage:
Harnish and the No. 1 offense had no trouble moving the ball down the field on the first drive with a mix of runs and passes that resulted in a Chad Spann 7-yard touchdown run. Harnish led the offense to three scores in four drives on Saturday.
Harnish was efficient in his throws, completing 9 of 12 passes and didn't put himself or the offense in any danger. There were some issues with clock management in the two-minute drill, with the offense taking 20 seconds to get a play off at one point, but that was the only negative for the No. 1 offense today.
He's on the Lou Groza Award watch list for a reason. The most impressive thing I saw on the offense (don't know if this is good or bad) was that K Mike Salerno just has a ridiculous leg. He made all three of his field goals, including 47 and a 52 yarders. The 52 yd one hit the crossbar and bounced over. During kickoffs he was booting it so hard the returners barely had a chance to return the ball. Tryouts for that spot are still open with the depth chart seeming like Me'co Brown/Tommy Davis and then Martel Moore/Daniel Rodriguez/Perez Ashford/David Bryant.
Unheralded running backs. Me'co & Chad were their usual selves, didn't see Crider anywhere. Justin Anderson had some vintage runs. Apparently his problem were his shoes:
Running back Justin Anderson has been in-and-out of practice so far, but turned in a nice day complete with a touchdown run and he looked smoother on his footwork than he had been in previous practices. NIU coach Jerry Kill said Anderson has been dealing with toe issues and now has a wider shoe that should negate those troubles.
Antione Kirkland looked great in "Rookie Ball", rushing for 62 yds and a TD including a breakaway 33 yd run.
Wide Receivers stepping up. The word is that Nathan Palmer has an MCL strain that will keep him out for who knows how long. Taking his place admirably was Willie Clark, who had some nice grabs including a diving catch over the middle.
Daniel Rodriguez saw time with the first team, but didn't get too many looks. Perez Ashford saw a good amount of action as well.
O-Line mish-mash. This is where I spent most of my time figuring out who was who and what was happening where. C Eddie Adamski sat out this practice because of a concussion that he suffered last week, but should be back Monday. Preliminary reports are saying projected starting RT Adam Skatrud is out for the season with an ACL tear. Bad things come in threes, I guess. I saw him on the sidelines with crutches, so the O-Line had to mix it up in this practice with some guys at different positions. Kill talked about why he was doing this on Friday:
"We're creating some depth there because we're having people learn two or three positions which I think will be good for us in the long run," Kill said. "We haven't done that before but the NFL does it so we're doing some of that in camp."
I think these are right...lemme know if you have any changes
The first string entailed:
Second string was:
On the D. I saw that LE Alan Baxter was getting a ton of time out there. I predict that he'll see a good amount of playing time as a true freshman. WLB Cory Hanson made a good amount of plays out there tipping passes and making tackles. DB Tommy Smith looks like he will be the main nickelback on this team right now.
Overall I thought it was a pretty good practice. Our defense definitely kept our offense in check. I saw a lot of pressure on some of the quarterbacks, so our offensive line is going to have to step up big especially if Skat is out for the year. Didn't see too many downfield passes, which was a little disappointing. I'm happy they are giving a lot of the young guys some looks, because who knows when they will have to step in and play right away.
NIUHuskies.com has some video and an interview with Coach Kill: