Football to battle Cal Poly at Huskie Stadium

Keith Otis
Keith Otis

Coach Dave Doeren and the NIU Huskies football team (1-2) close out their 2011 non-conference schedule at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, versus the Cal Poly Mustangs.

NIU returns home to Huskie Stadium looking to rebound after back-to-back losses at Kansas and versus No. 6 Wisconsin in its last two outings.

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Last weekend’s Soldier Field Showdown II loss to the Badgers was tough, Doeren said.

“Had a nice game going there early on and took a risk that I would take again. I told our guys all week – if we scored early, we’d try to get some momentum going in the game. Didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, but when you’re playing a team as good as Wisconsin, (I) felt like we needed to generate some momentum early,” the coach said.

Confidence for Saturday and the rest of the season remains strong, however.

Players “left a lot of things on the field” and “came out Sunday and had a tremendous practice,” Doeren said. Quarterback Chandler Harnish continues to rank among the national leaders in passing efficiency.

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And, wide receiver Perez Ashford said, the team knows that Saturday is “a must-win” before the Mid-American Conference schedule opens.

“No team is taken for granted, no matter who it is. We take every game one at a time and every game seriously,” Ashford said. “We’re going to come out and play like every other game, and look to win.”

“We all just have to do our jobs and make sure we have that focus and discipline,” linebacker Jordan Delegal added. “Like I’ve said before, our coaches put us in great position to make plays. All we have to do make those plays and do our job.”

“I think the one thing you can take from the film is that we beat ourselves at times. Dropped balls, had a couple of procedure penalties that stopped drives – those are things that aren’t characteristic of us,” Doeren said. “When you look at the film, it wasn’t just that we played a good team, I think our guys know that they’ve played better. When you see that, you know that if you clean things up you’re back on track offensively.”

Although Cal Poly will bring a tough, fast-tempo option offense to Huskie Stadium that will challenge NIU’s defense, Doeren said his team has its collective head in the right place.

“They won’t look past Cal Poly. Our guys right now know they have to play right, do some good things to win. They respect Cal Poly. Cal Poly played a good San Diego State team and Montana team into close games, and obviously had their way with the opponent they played last week,” he said. “Our guys won’t look past them. They know this is the next step, and they need to have a good week.”

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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