Preview 2018: Northern Illinois Huskies. It's Their Turn Again

Preview 2018: Northern Illinois Huskies. It's Their Turn Again

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Preview 2018: Northern Illinois Huskies. It's Their Turn Again

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Best Northern Illinois Offensive Player

OT Max Scharping, Sr.
Whether it’s at right tackle or on the other side, he’s a terrific all-around blocker who turned into an all-star two years ago and kept it all going.

The 6-6, 320-pounder out of Green Bay wasn’t a part of the Wisconsin mix, but he’s now an NFL prospect with the right size and good enough feet to be the anchor in pass protection. At the next level he’ll move over to guard or be tried out at right tackle, but for now, he’ll be a rock again on the left side.

2. OG Jordan Steckler, Jr.
3. QB Marcus Childers, Soph.
4. WR Spencer Tears, Jr.
5. RB Marcus Jones, Jr.

Best Northern Illinois Defensive Player

DE Sutton Smith, Jr.
A nice high school running back, Smith had the quickness to be moved over to the defensive side when he came to NIU. He’s only 6-0 and 225 pounds, but he’s tough, and after a year of getting his feet wet with 15 tackles and a sack … boom.

He exploded as one of the nation’s most destructive defenders, coming up with 14 sacks, 29.5 tackles for loss, 63 tackles, and took two fumbles for touchdowns as he consistently lived behind the line. With all of the other parts of the defense that can get into the backfield, Smith can’t be keyed on – expect another amazing year.

2. DE Josh Corcoran, Sr.
3. S Mykelti Williams, Jr.
4. DT Ben LeRoy, Jr.
5. LB Antonio Jones Davis, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

RB Marcus Jones, Jr.
The Huskies need to find another great running back who can handle carrying the attack. Jordan Huff was fine – he averaged close to six yards per carry – but he finished with just 740 yards. There’s only been one 1,000-yard rushing season over the last four years – Joel Bouagnon’s 1,286-yard, 18 score 2015 run – but NIU committed more to the run.

If the 5-8, 204-pound Jones can stay healthy, he and Tre Harbison have the upside to make the ground game rock again. At least, that’s the hope after coming up with a mediocre 2,312 rushing yards as a team.

Key Game To The Northern Illinois Season

Toledo, Nov. 7
The West is going to be solid again, with Western Michigan good, Toledo fine after a rebuild, and Ball State improved. Throw in Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, and there are division landmines all over the place. But the Huskies likely can’t take the division if they can’t beat the Rockets.

They’ve played them tough, but they also lost each of the last two seasons after dominating for the previous six years. With a road game at Western Michigan still to deal with to close out the season, NIU needs this.

2017 Northern Illinois Fun Stats

– 1st Quarter Scoring: NIU 115 – Opponents 65
– Sacks: NIU 43 for 262 yards – Opponents 26 for 184 yards
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 10-of-18 (56%) – NIU 5-of-17 (39%)

NEXT: Final Prediction & What Will Happen

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