Northern Illinois College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Northern Illinois Biggest Key: Offense
Start running well again. If Thomas Hammock is your head coach, you need to be able to run like the former NIU star back knows how NIU can.
The Huskies used to dominate the MAC world on the ground – and they’re still great at controlling the clock – but they failed to get past the 200-yard mark on the ground and averaged under 3.5 yards per carry. The experience is there on the offensive front and in the backfield to start controlling games again.
Run well, take the pressure off the passing game, start converting on third downs again.
Northern Illinois Biggest Key: Defense
It all ties together. There has to be more of a pass rush to help a secondary that makes a whole lot of stops but not enough big plays.
The Huskies have to keep teams from bombing away. They allowed over nine yards per pass, gave up 11 touchdown passes in the six games, and was hit for 200 yards getting off the bus. Again, it all starts with a pass rush that has to show up.
How bad have things been? NIU came up with 50 sacks in 14 games in 2018, and 25 over the 18 games since. Overall, the D has to be more disruptive, so …
Northern Illinois Key Player To A Successful Season
DE/DT Devonte O’Malley, Soph.
And Pierce Oppong and Rashein Thomas. They’re all sophomores, they’re all versatile-sized defensive ends, and they all need to find a way to generate pressure on a consistent basis. The 6-2, 265-pound O’Malley led the team with two sacks with three tackles for loss, but Opong and O’Malley all have to be a part of the fun.
Northern Illinois Key Game To The 2021 Season
Wyoming, Sept. 11
Northern Illinois really, really needs a win after going 0-6 last year and 6-15 over the last 21 games. It’s probably not going to happen at Georgia Tech to start the season, and it’s probably not going to come at Michigan after getting Wyoming. The home opener against the Cowboys is one of those 50/50 games that will show just how much of a player NIU will be overall.
– Northern Illinois Schedule Analysis
2020 Northern Illinois Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: NIU 33:39 – Opponents 26:21
– Red Zone Scores: NIU 17-of-18 (94%) – Opponents 20-of-26 (77%)
– Fumbles: NIU 13 (lost 8) – Opponents 10 (lost 2)