NIU Notes: Leathernecks presented unique challenge
DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill said he was worried about the unique ways Western Illinois attacks teams on both sides of the ball, but a few days of solid practice were all he needed to feel his team was ready.
"I know a lot about Western Illinois, so it made me a little bit nervous," Kill said after the Huskies won, 41-7, on Saturday. "Our kids did make me feel good throughout the week because we practiced well and prepared well. I had a good feeling going into the game because of our kids.
"If you prepare well, you won't feel quite as nervous."
Kill said he noticed his younger players were a little too amped up in the first half, leading to overpursuing on defense.
"We were sacking the quarterback in the second half but running past him in the first half," Kill said. "I tell the kids to play hard but we were playing out of control early on. We had to tell them at halftime to play under control."
NIU finished the game with four sacks, including one by true freshman Tyrone Clark and redshirt freshman Sean Progar.
Nice touch: On a day when football teams across the country held remembrances for the Sept. 11 attacks, former Marine and current NIU junior defensive end Jake Coffman led the team out on the field carrying the American flag.
A big hand: Senior running back Justin Anderson drew a big round of applause from the crowd when he got his first carry of the season in the fourth quarter. Anderson, who was NIU's leading rusher two seasons ago, finished as NIU's second-leading rusher Saturday with 42 yards on five carries, all in the fourth quarter.
That sums it up: Western Illinois quarterback Matt Barr summarized his team's performance in a few short words. "We got our butts whooped, so to speak."
By the numbers: NIU was 6 of 6 in the red zone on Saturday, making the Huskies a perfect 10 of 10 on scoring in the red zone this season. Kicker Mike Salerno is 4 of 4 on field goals this season after connecting from 25 and 34 yards. Safety Tracy Wilson again led the team in tackles, this time recording 10, including four solo stops.
Quotable: "[Next week] we are going to tackle better because we will be tackling lesser athletes. Those are good [running] backs. Some of the credit goes to the backs and some credit goes to their offensive line for holding us back." – Western Illinois coach Don Patterson.