The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Northern Illinois Huskies.
No. 84: Northern Illinois Huskies
Spring Practice Starts: March 25
Spring Game: April 28
Northern Illinois Huskies Spring Status
It wasn’t a MAC championship season, and the year might have ended with a thud, losing to Central Michigan and getting rolled by Duke in the Quick Lane Bowl. However, coming off a losing 2016, it was a solid bounceback year.
And now the bar is set at winning a conference title.
There might be some concerns at receiver, but as long as QB Marcus Childers is in one piece – keeping quarterbacks healthy has been a problem for the Huskies – all should be fine with the O.
The defense has to replace a few key linebackers, but the line is among the best in the nation at getting into the backfield. The overall defensive production, though, needs to improve a bit.
Northern Illinois Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Wide receiver. The Huskies’ leading target is back – Spencer Tears caught 43 passes for 528 yards and four scores – but Christian Blake, Chad Beebe, and tight end Shane Wimann are done. Tears and D.J. Brown form a good tandem, but for a passing attack that was just okay, it’s going to need to find a few deep threats.
Northern Illinois Biggest Issue
Turnovers. Fortunately, the defense did its part to help with takeaways more often than not. However, the offense gave it up 24 times, with almost equal problems with interceptions and fumbles. Seven times on the season the Huskies gave it up two times or more, losing three of them.
Northern Illinois Biggest Positive
The pass rush. The offensive line isn’t far off with all five starters back, but after finishing second in the nation behind Miami in sacks (43), and leading the country in tackles for loss (114), expect more of the same. Sutton Smith is back after coming up with 14 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss, and he’s not alone for a loaded defensive front.
Really, Why Are The Northern Illinois Huskies Ranked Here?
The Huskies have the talent, the experience, and the infrastructure to be the MAC’s best team. They need to get consistent play at quarterback, but as long as he running game is solid, the defense will take care of the rest.