Northern Illinois spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
8:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters (started 7 or more games)

Offense: 6, defense: 10, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners

TB Chad Spann, WR Landon Cox, FB Kyle Skarb, OT Trevor Olson, CB Chris Smith, S Tracy Wilson, DT D.J. Pirkle, DE Sean Progar, OLB Alex Kube

Key losses

C Eddie Adamski, OG Jason Onyebuagu, DE Jake Coffman, DE Brandon Bice, LB Cory Hanson

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Chad Spann* (1,038 yards rushing)

Passing: Chandler Harnish* (1,670 yards passing)

Receiving: Landon Cox* (45 catches, 535 yards)

Tackles: Tracy Wilson* (93 tackles)

Sacks: Jake Coffman (8.5); Sean Progar* (6.0)

Interceptions: Cory Hanson (3); Patrick George* (2)

Spring answers

1. Running backs a-plenty: Chad Spann was already going to be the starting running back next season, but now he won’t have to do it alone. The Huskies found an abundance of running back depth with Cameron Bell, Jasmin Hopkins and Ricky Crider. The depth is so strong that many are likening it to the years when the Huskies had Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe in the backfield.

2. Fill holes on the line: The Huskies had two major holes to fill on the offensive line, but none more important than the one left by center Eddie Adamski. Scott Wedige had been the center in waiting for a year and he stepped in with little incident this spring. His ability to seamlessly jell with the rest of the line will do wonders for whichever quarterback the Huskies decide to use.

3. Stingy defense: The Northern Illinois defense was the best in the Mid-American Conference last season and seemed to get even better this spring with increased athleticism. The Huskies did lose sack leader and defensive MVP Jake Coffman and interception leader Cory Hanson from last year’s squad, but there are several other players who are poised for big seasons.

Fall questions

1. Little resolved at quarterback: Last year’s starter, Chandler Harnish, was supposed to miss the spring with knee surgery, but that didn’t happen and he looked comfortable during the spring. But whether he keeps his starting quarterback job remains to be seen. DeMarcus Grady, Jordan Lynch, A.J. Hill and incoming junior college transfer Casey Weston will all take a run at it in the fall.

2. Waiting on the freshmen: The Huskies have a pretty stout group of linebackers coming in this fall who will immediately challenge for playing time, including Greg Barksdale, Jamaal Bass, Mike Hellams and Cameron Stingily. Those players will try to supplant the likes of Alex Kube, Pat Schiller and Jordan Delegal in the starting lineup. The competition for linebacker will be one of the more interesting ones in August.

3. Kickin’ it: The Huskies had two walk-on kickers this spring -- Alex Faust and Ryan Fillingim -- but neither took a stranglehold on the job heading into the summer. So it might be up to Mat Sims, a three-time all-state player from Kansas, to win the job in the fall.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.

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