Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss Northern Illinois’ offense.
Nitz: Ross, NIU’s offense was electric last season. The Huskies averaged 38.5 points a game, the 13th-highest average in the nation. NIU has a ton of talent coming back offensively this season, and should light up the scoreboard.
My question to you is: Can the Huskies average 40 points a contest? Eight teams – Louisiana Tech, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Clemson, Texas A&M, Marshall and North Carolina accomplished the feat last year. Do the Huskies have what it takes?
Jacobson: I’ll lean toward no, but I say that with a bit of hesitation. There are a couple reasons why I don’t think the offense will be as successful and it starts with Jordan Lynch. Last season he was an unknown commodity and teams didn’t have that much film to break down and scout Lynch. Now, everybody in the Mid-American Conference has had a year to plan and scheme for Lynch. While most MAC teams can’t replicate the athletic ability of Florida State’s defenders, they can watch what the Seminoles did in the schematically in the Orange Bowl to keep Lynch in check.
What are your thoughts?
Nitz: I disagree. As the season went on, there was plenty of film on Lynch to look at. Now, he might not do what he did last year just based on the law of averages, but Lynch and the coaching staff will tell you he’s a better QB this year, and I agree. The entire offensive line is back, and the Huskies have a strong receiving corps, as well. I think the key are the tailbacks. What if Akeem Daniels could run for 1,000 yards?
It takes a lot of guts to say NIU will put up 40 points a contest, but you know what, I’ll lean toward yes. The talent and schedule (who knows how many the Huskies will score against Akron and UMass) will allow NIU to do so.
Jacobson: I argue that the schedule hurts NIU this year. Yes, you have the crossover games against bottom-tier MAC East teams, but compared to last year, the schedule is more difficult.
Iowa’s defense is better than last season, the Huskies trade a home game against Kansas for a road game at Purdue and have to travel to Kent State instead of playing Buffalo. I don’t think NIU scores 40-plus points in any of those games and the Huskies might be hard-pressed to break 30 against the two Big Ten teams.
I also think the loss of Martel Moore and Perez Ashford is going to have a larger affect than many think. But you differ with me on that?
Nitz: Moore is absolutely a big loss, but remember, Ashford missed some time because of injury last season. I really do like the receivers NIU does have, Tommylee Lewis should be in for a big season.
Here’s another factor to consider: If NIU’s defense takes a step back, that only means more pressure on the offense, the starters are in longer, etc. The offense might have to score more.