The Idaho Vandals head to DeKalb, Ill. this weekend, where they’ll face the Northern Illinois Huskies out of the MAC. Like the Vandals, the Huskies are 2-1 on the season, and are coming off a huge upset of the Big 10’s Purdue Boilermakers — only the program’s second win ever over a Big 10 team.
In 2007, the Huskies came to Moscow and left the Dome with a 42-35 victory — one of just two wins on the season.
To get the scoop on the 2009 version of the Huskies, we talked with Mike Breese, who writes at The Red and Black Attack.
How big is that win over Purdue?
The win at Purdue is definitely up there with the great all-time wins by Northern Illinois. Most importantly, it breathes a new life into these Huskies who don’t have to keep hearing about how great the 2003 season was anymore. It had been way too long since we beat a BCS team and this 2009 team wants to put their own mark on the program.
It seems like the Huskie offense is clicking on all cylinders, with 454 all-purpose yards vs. Purdue. What worked?
Running the ball and being efficient in the passing game. The Huskies ran the ball right at Purdue and were able to make some plays. The big guys in front really cleared some big holes. QB Chandler Harnish made all the necessary throws to keep drives going.
When the Huskies are on offense, what should we watch for and who are the key playmakers?
On offense, your eyes squarely should be on running backs Me’co Brown & Chad Spann. Me’co is the smaller, speedier guy that is our home-run threat. Spann is the guy that you will see if we need those short yards or if we are in redzone situations. At QB, Chandler Harnish throws a nice ball, can manage the game quite well and is a threat to run at any time. We throw the ball to any of the billion guys we have out there running routes. Our fullback is our leader in receiving yards.
When the Huskies are on defense, what should we watch for and who are the key playmakers?
DT D.J. Pirkle is a force to be reckoned with in the middle at 6’0″ 295 lbs. SS Tracy Wilson seems to be in on every tackle and FS David Bryant is probably has the most talent out of anybody on the defensive side of the ball.
Wisconsin was able to pass all over the field on you guys, for 281 yards. Are you worried about a weak secondary?
Not exactly. 70 of those said yards were on the first play from scrimmage on a defensive miscue. Three new starters were playing in that game and we were trying to stack the box and stop Wisconsin’s run game. Since then, the secondary has tightened up and has looked spectacular in these past two games.
What concerns you about the Vandals’ matchup?
I’m definitely concerned about Idaho’s passing game. (Nate) Enderle has a ton of experience since the last time we played you guys and could be a little scary if he gets things going downfield. NIU’s pass rush has been lacking lately and we don’t want to give him any extra time to throw the ball. The Vandals also have a +4 turnover ratio at this point in the season and we have foolishly been turning the ball over lately through fumbles. If those happen again, it could be a killer.
Your predicted outcome?
I think that we’ve looked kind of sloppy the last couple games despite getting victories. I’m sure the coaches are getting after our players to correct things before we head in to conference. That being said I see the Huskies playing a near-perfect game on Satuday, pitching the shutout behind a raucous home crowd.
Huskies 31, Vandals 0