Game two kicks off tomorrow, and Northern Illinois comes to Lawrence as the favorite to knock of the Jayhawks in the first game against a FBS opponent. The Huskies are coming off a banner season which included a MAC title, a bowl birth and top 25 recognition. That has led to a coaching change and some new faces at NIU but from a player perspective they do return some solid talent.
SB Nation's Red and Black Attack covers all things NIU and Mike Breese is the head blogger for the home of our upcoming opponent. Mike was kind enough to answer a few questions and put a little more substance around NIU. The who's, the what's etc. They certainly seem to be a confident group this week which is understandable considering the run they've been on, but if you check out my Q&A over at Red and Black Attack you'll see that I'm picking the home team of course!
With that, let's get this Q&A under way!
1. Kansas ran the ball well last week and NIU gave up a decent chunk of yardage on the ground to Army. Is that more a product of Army's offense or is that an area that Kansas might be able to exploit against the Huskies?
It's a combination of two things: Army's unique offense that can really move the ball against anybody if they manage to execute properly and the fact that most of the starters were out of the game as the 3rd quarter was winding down.
Army managed to rack up most of their yards and score 20 points in the 4th quarter. I honestly don't have any clue how Kansas is going to perform against our defense because facing the Black Knights is so different from facing any type of other offense.
2. Offensively NIU looked pretty balanced with Chandler Harnish being a pretty tough individual to stop. If you're Vic Shealy(Kansas DC) what do you do to contain him?
I'm not a fan of Harnish running the ball, but he seems to do it when defenses least expect it for large chunks of yardage. I'd get some pressure on him, because he makes mistakes sometimes (INT, sack vs Army). But good luck doing that against our offensive line, which is one of the most experienced in the country.
3. Obviously there is a little bit of turnover both from a coaching standpoint and player standpoint at NIU after last years great season. Who are they going to miss and who's back that leads you to believe that they can have another season like they did a year ago?
I almost feel bad in saying that the only players that I really miss are the two linebackers that are sitting this season (Devon Butler & Tyrone Clark) because of an injury and a suspension. Our depth in the front seven is lacking, especially with the backers. The DEs and the secondary looks as good as ever and there's a lot of depth at RB this year.
I actually like this year's offensive scheme and coaching staff better than last year's. It looks like the Huskies haven't missed a beat at all on the offensive side of things. Defense, we still don't really know anything about.
4. What's the feeling from the Husky side of things going into this game? I'd say Kansas fans might be slightly more optimistic after last weeks performance but some of that stems from not really knowing what NIU is bringing to the table.
NIU is pretty darn confident they are going to take this game. Like I said, the offense hasn't missed a beat since last year and even looks more explosive. Judging from what McNeese did to KU last week this may be a problem for the Jayhawks.
5. Dave Doeren is a KC native and a former Kansas assistant. Early impressions? What changes has he made?
He's a no-BS coach that is a good judge of talent and doesn't mess around in the one game we've seen him coach. OC Matt Canada, who coached at Indiana LY, is doing a great job as well.
6. Prediction on how this one plays out?
All signs are pointing to a shootout, and the Huskie offense and defense is just a little bit better.
I predicted 52-30 on my site and I'll just stick with that number. Good luck Saturday!