DeKALB — NIU football coach Thomas Hammock on Tuesday said he took no issue with the targeting call that resulted in Mykelti Williams' ejection.
Hammock said that during Utah film review Sunday, they showcased the play during the fourth quarter of the Huskies' 35-17 loss at Utah Saturday to the team. They also tried to provide instructions on how to avoid the penalty.
"As soon as I saw it, I said, they can call it because a targeting doesn’t mean you hit somebody in the head. It’s anytime you see the crown of the helmet down, that’s a targeting," Hammock said. "The way the receiver caught the ball and the position that he was in at that particular moment, it’s hard. I was trying to tell the refs, it’s hard to lift your head up. But I agree with the call. It was a good call and we’ll learn from that. We showed it on Sunday, tried to teach our players the best way to do it. You almost have to go to the ground and life your arms up to try and get the guy down with how low the wide receiver went.”
Due to the penalty being enforced in the second half, Williams, will miss the first half on Saturday's game at Nebraska. He has played in every Huskies game the last two seasons and has seven tackles through two games this season.
Hammock honed in on a few impactful plays, including the fourth and 2 opportunity that Tre Harbison ended up short on with the Huskies trailing 28-17. Harbison took the direct snap, gaining a yard into the heart of the Utah line. Ross Bowers also later forced a throw into traffic, throwing his only interception in the process.
“There were a couple plays that I would love to have back to see how that would affect the outcome," Hammock said.
The Huskies had several changes along the depth chart provided Tuesday as true freshman cornerback Mark Aitken started the first game of the season against Illinois State, but did not play at Utah. Aitken was not listed at cornerback in this week's two-deep depth chart.
“As coaches we build based on personnel and what give us the best matchup and that’s what played out this week," Hammock said.
One way the Huskies have utilized personnel differently this fall has been the heavier usage of the tight ends. Daniel Crawford and Mitchell Brinkman each recorded three receptions in the loss to the Utes.
“We believe in the tight end position. We want to be able to have tight ends that can block and catch the football. That’s a big part," Hammock said. "I think tight ends create mismatches for a defense, how do you defend it? Do you want to go base defense or do you go nickel defense? I think our tight ends have done a great job being able to do both things in the running game and the passing game.”
Antonio Jones-Davis recalled stepping out onto the field against upcoming foe Nebraska at Lincoln Stadium in 2017, when he was primarily a special teams player. He recalls being impressed with the environment, but it doesn't concern him much.
“They’re a faceless, nameless opponent," Jones-Davis said. "At the end of the day, the crowd is not out there on the field, so they can’t determine too much.”
Defensive tackle Weston Kramer, who was especially fond of the memory of stepping out onto the field at Nebraska two seasons ago, is excited for the challenge ahead with the Huskers. As much as in awe as he was at that time, he said he doesn't ever remember being overwhelmed by the moment.
“We play teams like this every single year," Kramer said. "Every single year I’ve been here, we played big schools, gone to big stadiums, it doesn’t really affect me at all.”