Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Northern Illinois Huskies season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Schedule Analysis
– Northern Illinois Previews 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
2018 Record: 8-6 overall, 6-2 in MAC
Head Coach: Thomas Hammock, 1st year
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NORTHERN ILLINOIS OFFENSE
– New head coach Thomas Hammock was a NIU star running back, knows the program, and knows how to get a running game moving. He and offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness have to try improving one of the nation’s worst offenses – the Huskies won the MAC title despite going for just 322 yards and 20 points per game. On the year, NIU failed to his 30 points 11 times, but now it has to hold up its end of the bargain with seven starters back.
– The passing game was inefficient, but it got better. Marcus Childers was the second-leading rusher, but he only threw 15 touchdown passes with just ten picks. Late in the year, though, he was accurate, hitting 64% of his passes or better in five of the last six games, and came through in the MAC title game with four touchdown throws in the comeback win. He takes a whole lot of shots, though, and has been banged up throughout his career. Junior Anthony Thompson has to be ready after getting in a little bit of work.
– It’s a Thomas Hammock coached team … the running game it’ll work. Tre Harbison is a 227-pound banger who started his career out at Virginia and came on last season to lead the way with 1,034 yards and five scores. Combining with senior Marcus Jones and sophomore Hordan Nettles, the backs are there, but …
– The O line loses some fantastic parts. Max Scharping was a great one at left tackle, and now it’s up to his understudy Isaac Hawn to to step in. The right side should be okay, but junior Austin Warner has to be great with all-star C Luke Shively done.
– The top two receivers are gone, making Spencer Tears the main man after catching 40 passes with four scores. There weren’t enough deep shots, but there’s speed in sophomores Cole Tucker and Dennis Robinson to stretch the field more – even though those two both averaged fewer than ten yards per grab. There will be a rotation at tight end replacing Ty Harmston, but junior Mitchell Brinkman is back after making six grabs before getting hurt early on.