I hate to pick on Sahly, but until another Huskie beat writer/blogger emerges from the darkness, who else do I have to pick on?
Just to make this clear, NIU's defense last year was first in the MAC total defense, third in scoring, third in rushing defense, tied for second in sacks, second in opponent first downs and returns nine regular starters. Yet out of 24 available spots to put an NIU defender on the first and second teams, Steele found a place for only one.
It's very hard to evaluate players that don't accumulate a lot of stats like DTs and CBs unless you watch a ton of game film. In terms of picking all-conference teams, especially on defense, you have to look at the statistics. As we all know, NIU players just aren't going to accumulate these monster stats because of the aggressive substitution that Kill does on game days.
The success of the defense last year was a team effort, that's for sure. Looking back on last season, what players that are returning really stood out? DE Sean Progar only started the second part of the season after Coffman moved inside, but put up monster stats. DT D.J. Pirkle underperformed, but played the entire season with a bum shoulder. NG Brian Lawson only played half the season before he went down to an injury.
The linebackers were mediocre at best all year, but I'm hoping that Alex Kube can finally have a breakout year at SLB as he is named the only player named to 2nd Team All-MAC. The secondary needs work, as NIU finished 9th in the MAC in terms of Pass Efficiency Defense and had only 8 interceptions on the year.
The only player I can truly stick my neck out for is SS Tracy Wilson. How does one go from 3rd team All-MAC to 4th team in just one off-season. Plus he plays strong safety, not free. Just a weird assessment by Steele.
For the record, I think Steele does an outstanding job of previewing the BCS conferences and the top level teams, but when it comes to the non-BCS schools, he leaves a lot to be desired.
I'm definitely going to have to disagree there. For somebody who's been reading his previews for 7 or 8 years now, Phil Steele covers non-BCS teams better than any other preseason magazine out there. He gives the same level of detail as he does for all 120 of the other FBS teams, which you can't say about any other publication.
Here is a complete list of the Huskies selected (All-MAC team in a PDF)
RB Chad Spann
RB Jasmin Hopkins
Final thought: Chandler Harnish is really 2nd Team All-MAC? Zac Dysert from an 1-11 Miami squad on the 1st Team? This conference has officially run out of quarterbacks! The key to winning the MAC in 2010: Defense and a good running game.