Nitz: There are a lot of positives to take from Northern Illinois’ nonconference slate. The Huskies are 3-1 heading into Mid-American Conference play, with a road victory at Army and a win over a Big 12 Conference team. This team easily could be unbeaten and on the Top 25 radar.
What was the most impressive thing about NIU’s play during its nonconference schedule?
Jacobson: The obvious answer is Jordan Lynch, and deservedly so. I don’t think anybody imagined he would step right in and put up the numbers he has out of the gate. Right now he ranks 12th in the nation overall in rushing yards, and the quick, short passing game has developed into a weapon, as well. The speed with which he’s run the Huskies’ up-tempo offense has been outstanding.
But he also has gotten help from the big guys up front. How would you characterize the offensive line’s play through the first four games?
Nitz: I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the group so far. To me, the offensive line, which has five new starters, was the biggest question mark heading into the season. However, I think the group has performed fairly well, and will only get better. Huskies fans have a lot to look forward to from the starting unit of Tyler Loos, Jared Volk, Andrew Ness, Aidan Conlan and Ryan Brown.
Those are some of the postiives so far. What’s the main thing Huskies fans should be concerned about heading into league play?
Jacobson: For me, it’s the run defense. NIU has allowed an opposing running back to gain 90-plus yards in three of its four games this season. Combined with the lack of forced turnovers, it’s bound to hurt the Huskies down the road if things don’t improve.
But now the Huskies enter MAC play against Central Michigan, facing a team they lost to last season. Do you think NIU gets some revenge – just like it did against Kansas – and what will be the keys to this afternoon’s game?
Nitz: I do think NIU pulls this one out, but I’m not expecting a blowout by any means. Fans should be pretty satisfied with how this NIU offense is playing, and I expect the unit to keep rolling.
Chippewas running back Zurlon Tipton is averaging 7.1 yards a carry, so NIU’s defense will have its hands full with him. The Huskies need to hold Tipton in check and finally force a turnover, or two.