Football faces Northern Illinois

By Zane Miller and By Zane Miller

The Falcons football team will look to break even in the Mid-American Conference standings on Saturday afternoon against the Northern Illinois Huskies.

The team struggled offensively in the second half of last weekend’s loss to the Ohio Bobcats, and while the team is expecting a similar showing from Northern Illinois, they are looking to learn from last weekend and be aggressive in their running game.

“Northern Illinois is going to do the same thing from the beginning of the game,” Falcons head coach Mike Jinks said. “They’re the number one ranked rush defense in the conference; they want to stop the run, and if six guys aren’t stopping the run, they’re going to put a seventh. And if seven aren’t stopping the run, they’re going to put in an eighth, and it’s going to happen in the first quarter, so we’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to get from them, we’ve just got to go out and execute.”

The team also is looking to put even more emphasis on the passing game as well with the strength of Northern Illinois’ rushing defense.

“It’s always a worry, and it’s always a concern, that’s how you get beat,” Jinks said. “Really we’ve got to put a game plan in place to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful and to that note, it’s not just the pressure. It’s not just the guys they put in the box… we don’t need to be in a lot of third and long situations for protection’s sake, there probably is some things that we’ll do in order to neutralize their ability to come get the passer and some things take some of the pressure off those positions.”

The team is also looking to work on their completion percentage as well, as they had 17 passes complete on 43 attempts against Ohio.

“The receivers are doing a good job of winning at the line of scrimmage,” Jinks said. “We’ve got some guys open; we’ve just got to complete some of those balls and at the same time, when they do get open, guys start to press a little bit, and we have some untimely drops as well, so there’s enough blame to go around.”

Northern Illinois also handed the Falcons their largest margin of loss against a MAC opponent last season, taking it 45-20. The team feels that a good effort for this game could be a turning point for the rest of the season.

“It would definitely be a big win for us and our program,” Jinks said. “NIU and BG have been in some big games over the last few years, so there is definitely a sense of pride there. I think the kids will come out ready to play.”