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NIU vs. Cal Poly Preview: Redemption Time

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Chandler Harnish #12 of the Northern Illinois Huskies throws a pass against the Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field on September 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Chandler Harnish #12 of the Northern Illinois Huskies throws a pass against the Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field on September 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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What do I know about Cal Poly? Let's see here. They're located in San-Luis Obispo and their head coach from 2001-08 was current-Army head man Rich Ellerson. This tells us a lot, because Cal Poly's new head coach Tim Walsh actually was offensive coordinator for Army from 2007-08! Before that he was head man for Portland State from 1993-2006.

Doeren was linebackers coach at Montana when he lost twice to PSU from 2000-01. Big 10 fans might remember the struggles that Wisconsin had against Cal Poly back in 2008, where the Badgers barely put away the Mustangs in overtime.

So that means we're going to see a lot of option formations similar to what Army had. It's a blend of a lot of other stuff, kind of what Paul Johnson has been trying to pull off at Georgia Tech lately. I'd be a lot more worried about this team had we not played and been extremely successful against Army already to start the season off. I'll let Dave Doeren take what he expects to see from the Mustangs because I'm sure he's seen more (any) gametape than your or I have:

"Offensively, they're a blend of what Army did and some of the spread stuff you're seeing in college football. I know they operate a fast tempo, a lot like our offense. There will be some carryover there. Their quarterback, No. 3, is a versatile guy; a very good threat for them. Their slot back, No.1, Mark Rodgers is also a dangerous returner. That's what we have in front of us this week. Looking forward to coming home and playing in our stadium, getting back on track, and do our jobs."

On Cal Poly's option offense
"Cal Poly does both. They'll line up just like you saw Army line up. Then they'll shift into the shotgun and run the traditional zone read, with the bubble screen game and vertical passing game. They'll run some of the same power and counter-type lead plays that you see in our offense and a few of the same plays you saw Kansas run. Their quarterback didn't start last year, but starts this year. He can do a lot of things; he's a very good athlete. It's a tough system. It's definitely a challenge for our defense."

Cal Poly's QB Andre Broadous is the leading passer AND rusher on this team. He is also the cousin of Snoop Dogg.

On defense, the Cal Poly Mustangs have cornerback Asa Jackson, who seems to be All-Everything and on every award watch-list this season. Harnish's job will be to not throw it into his direction because he is a playmaker. Asa's stats: 20 tackles, 4 BrUps and 1 INT return for 100 yds.

This won't be a problem considering the depth of the receiving corps, but if they play like they did last week with the drops and everything there may be some trouble.

"Come back here and get ready to play a Cal Poly team at home this week. Cal Poly is a good football team, returns 50 lettermen. They have one of the best cornerbacks in their subdivision of college football, No. 2; had an interception return for a touchdown last week. I know Coach Tim Walsh, I coached against him when he was at Portland State. I think he's a really good football coach. Also have another corner, Samoodi, No. 6, that's playing well. Their middle linebacker, number nine, Kennith Jackson, is playing well.

Kennith Jackson has 24 tackles, 2.5 TFL and 4 pass breakups himself.

NIU's strategy:


Plain and simple. On offense, establish the running game and use the depth of the receivers on this team to make the matchups come in favor of the Huskies. Don't let one player on their defense beat you. Harnish and the passing game really needs to bounce back big-time from the down performance against Wisconsin. Also, I would like to see the running game get firmly established in this one.


Stop the other team on third down. Less mental mistakes. Play as a team, rather than individuals. Trust each other. Dominate a team like this, because they are at a lower level than you are. It doesn't have to be spectacular, but make some plays so younger players can get in the game and play most of the second half.