DeKALB – Dave Doeren doesn’t want his Northern Illinois football team to be in a position where it has to score multiple touchdowns in the fourth quarter to get a victory.
However, Doeren standing on the sideline, watching his team score a late touchdown to get a come-from-behind win has been a theme this season. Doeren would like to have it a little easier, but in the end a win is a win.
“I’d love to stop doing that,” Doeren said at Tuesday’s weekly news conference. “But if that’s what we have do do, I don’t care, we’ll do it.”
Saturday’s 35-23 win at Ball State was the latest example of the Huskies’ fourth-quarter drama, with Akeem Daniels and Jordan Lynch scoring during the last five minutes of the contest.
In a home victory over Kansas Week 4, the Huskies scored 17 unanswered points in the final period for a 30-23 win.
Just a week earlier, NIU senior wide receiver Martel Moore caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Lynch with 4:29 left in the game, and the Huskies held off Army’s strong rushing attack to get a victory.
To Doeren, there’s a number of reasons why his team is able to fight adversity to get close, late wins. Tuesday, NIUs second-year coach mentioned his players’ strong mental toughness, how they aren’t going to get down when there’s adversity.
“I just think we have a lot of confidence as coaches and as players. Our resolve, the fact that we don’t quit, we don’t flinch, we don’t panic,” Doeren said. “And I think the belief, like I said, and I think our guys are mentally tough. A lot of our players have a chip on their shoulder, and as soon as you put them in a corner you’ree going to get them chest out and chin up, ready to go.”
Doeren also talked about his team’s conditioning, and how depth can play a factor as well. The Huskies rotate a number of players on the offensive and defensive lines. NIU also goes at a high tempo in practice.
“I think we’re well-conditioned,” Doeren said. “Part of that could be depth, part of it isn’t. There are certain positions where we do rotate more than others, and I’m sure that helps those kids.”
Daniels put NIU ahead Saturday when he caught a pass from Lynch down the right sideline and went 54 yards for a touchdown. He said the Huskies aren’t a team that’s just going to go away.
“We do a lot to get better. When things don’t go our way, we don’t sit down and pout and get down on ourselves,” Daniels said. “We always find a way to get back up.”