There’s something about the mid-majors that you have to respect.
The “little guys,” somewhat hidden behind the household names, battle every season to earn a slot in the top 25, or perhaps a New Years Six bowl game.One program consistently classified as one of those squads is Northern Illinois.
The Huskies have plenty to look forward to in 2015 and also welcome a new beat writer to DeKalb, Illinois in Jesse Severson. While learning the ropes of the Midwest from the desert out west in Arizona, we decided to test his knowledge and weigh in on what we can expect from the Huskies in 2015.
AK: So Jesse, you relocate to Illinois and get to cover the NIU Huskies now as a beat writer. What’s the current feeling now that you’re in DeKalb?
JS: Well, I’m coming from Arizona, so to say that I’m cold is an understatement. One of the first things that I did when I moved here is go online and buy one of those hats with the ear flaps and fur inside. Probably the best purchase I’ve ever made.
AK: College football usually has the luxury of seeing that one mid-major school that could potentially make some noise. We saw it with NIU in 2013 while Colorado State nearly broke that barrier a season ago. What will it take for the Huskies to make a monster run in 2015?
JS: On paper, this team could make a big splash on the defensive side of the football. They return eight starters on defense – including most of their leading tacklers – which could be huge. If you look at last year, their losses all came when they gave up at least 34 points – 34-17 to Central Michigan, 52-14 to Arkansas and 52-23 to Marshall. They’ve won 44 of their past 45 games when they allowed 24 points or less. A strong defense could lead to that monster run.
AK: As for scheduling, what’s the one game NIU fans should circle that may either make the season or potentially pose the biggest threat to the Huskies?
JS: While I wouldn’t call it a game that would either make or break the season, Sept. 19 at Ohio State is certainly one game that Huskie fans should be circling. If they can go into the Horseshoe and play with the defending national champions – and whichever of the three star quarterbacks they decide to use – that could be a statement in itself. Best case scenario? The Huskies catch the Buckeyes in early season form like Virginia Tech did in the Hokies’ 34-21 win over Ohio State on Sept. 6 last year.
AK: Drew Hare will return under center next year following an efficient 2014 season. Any chance he could be in the same category as Jordan Lynch and Chandler Harnish?
JS: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Based off what I noticed in my short time in DeKalb, comparing anybody to Jordan Lynch is like comparing them to Zeus himself. Having said that, Hare was extremely efficient last season as a sophomore – the 2,322 passing yards and 18 touchdowns almost pales in comparison to the two interceptions. He was a dual-threat with his 900 rushing yards almost leading the team, too. While there’s no Da’Ron Brown to throw to this year, he still has some weapons on the outside. He comes into the season knowing the quarterback position is his gig, so if he uses that to boost his confidence, you could possibly see him making “the leap.”
AK: What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to as you begin your journey writing for Northern Illinois athletics?
JS: One of the cool things about college towns is the backing the teams get from the community. For DeKalb, the Huskies are an integral part of the fabric of the town, so that there’s heavy interest in the team will likely ensure there’s never a dull moment in this job.
Both the Huskies and their writer seem to be on the right path for 2015.