Thursday practice report

As Northern Illinois passed the midway point of spring football practice, the coaching staff is putting the team in more situational drills.

This morning, the sideline markers made their first appearance and the Huskies were put in more second-and-seven and third-and-16 type of situations.

"Probably the situations from a year ago, I know Navy was one of them, where we had the ball on the 12-yard line or something like that and we didn't convert," NIU coach Jerry Kill said. "Today we tried to go in the red zone and squeeze that field.

"We tried to take what we didn't do in the fall and try and put it in situations in practice and if anything else, it just kind of reinforces those situations."

Willie Clark made a pretty catch on a deep route, just beating Kiaree Daniels to catch a pass from Chandler Harnish. It's too bad for Clark that in a game it wouldn't have counted as defensive tackle D.J. Pirkle got to Harnish before the throw for a sack. Quarterbacks are naturally off limits to any sort of big hitting, so Harnish was able to throw. Pirkle, Brandon Bice and Jake Coffman routinely found themselves in the backfield as the offensive line struggled to contain them.

Linebacker John Tranchitella had the most memorable hit of the day, breaking up a catch by fullback Connor Flahive by hitting him square in the chest and dropping him in the middle of the field. Check out tomorrow's Daily Chronicle for a story on Tranchitella and defensive end Kyle Jenkins' thoughts on the news of their high school and perennial state football power Driscoll probably closing because of low enrollment numbers and financial difficulties.

With the beautiful weather, it made for an easy day for punters Josh Wilber, Ryan Neir and Mike Salerno, Kill said.

"We're getting better. We weren't worth [anything] in the beginning and you're not usually," Kill said. "Today, you would have thought we were punting in the NFL because we were hitting them 50-55 yards. But, there was no wind and that's not reality."

Tommy Davis was moved from wide receiver to cornerback to see what he can do on the defensive side of the ball.

Cornerback Chris Smith returned to the field after a knee injury sidelined him for three practices.

Come back this afternoon for a video interview with running back Me'co Brown. Don't forget, I'll be hosting a live chat here at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, so get those questions ready.