This weekend Kansas makes the return trip to play Northern Illinois one year after pulling off a bit of an upset in the minds of Huskie fans a year ago. Last year we conducted a Q&A with SB Nation's Red and Black Attack and they've been kind enough to give us a few minutes of their time and answer some questions again this year.
Generally speaking they seem to echo a lot of the Kansas concerns heading into this one in terms of the NIU strengths and challenges that they may present. It sounds like this is a solid opponent as everyone expected and NIU fans seem confident that payback is on the way for the Jayhawks.
It's bizarre, but it appears that Jordan Lynch is a better runner than Chandler Harnish. Heck, there was a rally by fans wanting him to be a starting running back last year. He truly is amazing running the ball and that goes back to his high school days at Mt. Carmel in Chicago. He's averaging over 100 yds per game on the ground. And while he's not as a polished a passer as Harnish was, he's showing vast improvement even this early on his career. Versus Army he was killer throwing for 342 and 4 TDs. He's been groomed to be a starter for a while and while he'll make a mistake or two he's as good as a brand new starter so far as I've seen at NIU.
The offensive line looks fairly green based on starts and class. Is that a strong group for the Huskies or a potential weakness at this point?
They're coming together and improving every game. They're not strong, but just about average at this point. The problem with the running game is that we have a plethora of running backs but no real playmakers outside of Lynch. So far I've been impressed with what they have put together so far.
What did Iowa do that gave NIU trouble offensively?
Iowa's cover 2 defense was extremely good. Lynch didn't have any looks in the secondary and the offense was kept dormant. UT-Martin and Army played a whole bunch of man and the offense performed very well in those games. Don't really know what's going to happen vs. Kansas.
Army ran for a good chunk of yards but obviously that is Army's game. Would you say that the run defense is a weakness or do you think that was just a product of the opponent?
The run defense is definitely not a weakness, but a strength. Just watch the Iowa game. The problem was the Army scheme, which is a little ridiculous to play in the 3rd game of the season. Players after that game kept talking about how they couldn't wait to get back to "normal" football.
How has NIU looked against the pass? Is the secondary group solid in coverage?
The secondary is the best unit on the team in my opinion. They've been sloppy lately, but I expect them to pull it together vs. Kansas at home. Watch out for S Jimmie Ward making hits and don't throw the ball to CB Rashaan Melvin's way.
Dave Doeren was a name that was on Kansas fans radar last year when the coaching search was taking place. What's the thought on him at NIU at this point?
He's a great no-nonsense coach. Considering the previous coach was a bit of a diva, fans are extremely happy with Doeren so far. Not to mention he won the elusive MAC Championship in his first year. We've been waiting for that since 1983
How do you see this one playing out?
This will make Kansas fans angry, but honestly I expect the Huskies to roll. It's our first home game vs. a BCS opponent since we played both Maryland and Iowa State in 2003 and we won both of those. I don't believe in new coaches, especially Charlie Weis, having good first years. Now that our defense has a pulse, I expect to get a couple stops and roll on offense. Revenge will be had in Dekalb.