#81 Northern Illinois Football 2012 Preview

Northern Illinois Huskies

2012 Overall Rank # 81
# 4 Mid-American Conference
Northern Illinois College Football 2012 Team Preview
Northern Illinois Team Page


Northern Illinois had a tremendous season under their first year head coach, and former Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator, Dave Doeren. They won 11 games and ended on a tear, reeling off nine straight victories. The ninth was a dominating, showcasing victory over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com bowl. The Huskies are trying to keep their momentum going from last year into their 2012 campaign.  

2011 Record: (11-3, 8-1)
2011 Bowl: GoDaddy.Com Vs Arkansas State 38-20
Coach: Dave Doeren (11-3 at Northern Illinois, 11-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Dunbar
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Niemann, Ryan Nielsen

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Akeem Daniels, RB, 303 yards
Passing: Jordan Lynch, QB, 246 yards
Receiving: Martel Moore, WR, 747 yards
Tackles: Jimmy Ward, DB, 48
Sacks: Alan Baxter, DL, 4
Interceptions: Rashaan Melvin, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees:  WR Prez Ashford, K Matthew Sims, WR Tommylee Lewis

Key Losses: QB Chandler Harnish, LB Pat Schiller, RB, Jasmin Hopkins

Northern Illinois’s offense was one of the most prolific in the nation last season. They utilized a dual threat quarterback, the graduated Chandler Harnish, along with their combination of running backs, Akeem Daniels and Jasmin Hopkins. This proved to be a deadly attack as the Huskies ranked 12th in the nation. Although they are losing both Harnish and Hopkins, they will be retooled and ready to run over anyone in their path. This rushing attack has been proven to be difficult to stop and will be the focus of every defense that they face. When they are able to run the ball effectively it opens up the passing game and allows the Huskies to move the ball up and down the field with ease as the defense is forced to defend the run. This is the key to the Huskies offense and will be the focal point of their 2012 offense.

Northern Illinois struggled to stop their opponent’s offense, giving up over 30 points per contest. There was no definitive weak defensive unit as both were abused on a weekly basis. Their rushing defense ranked 73rd in the nation and their passing defense allowed over 245 yards per game, 89th in the nation. The defense needs to be shored up for the Huskies to take their game to the next level and become a player on the national stage. They were able to make a lot of plays in the backfield; ranking 33rd in the nation in tackles for a loss. However, they were unable to apply pressure on the quarterback as they ranked 54th in nation in sacks per game. This made it easy for quarterbacks to get comfortable in the pocket and pick apart their secondary.

The Bottom Line:
Northern Illinois had one of their finest seasons to date. However, to have long term success, they need to retool at key positions such as quarterback and running back and continue to improve on a weekly basis. Furthermore they need to shore up their defense. One thing is for certain though, the Huskies will continue to have a tremendous running game and give opposing defenses fits. Dave Doeren is a defensive guru so there is no reason to believe that, as he continues to coach, their defense will improve. It looks as though the Huskies will take a step back this year, although it is impossible to expect them to repeat the success they had a season ago.  Northern Illinois is still a team to keep on your radar. As time goes on, this team eventually will make noise on a national level.

Projected Bowl: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 234.14 yards (12th in the nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 241.86 yards (51, 7)
Total Offense: 476.00 (11, 2)
Scoring Offense: 38.29 (12, 2)
Rushing Defense: 167.36 (73, 6)
Pass Defense: 247.86 (89, 11)
Total Defense: 415.21 (88, 9)
Scoring Defense: 30.29 (85, 9)
Turnover Margin: .43 (29, 4)
Sacks: 2.00 (T54, 4)
Sacks Allowed: .86 (10, 2)