Northern Illinois spring wrap

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
9:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 11-3

2010 conference record: 8-0 (West champs, lost in MAC title game)

Returning starters

Offense: 9, defense: 4, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners

QB Chandler Harnish, DE Sean Progar, DB Tommy Davis

Key losses

RB Chad Spann, DE Jake Coffman, LB Alex Kube

2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Spann (1,388 yards, 22 TDs)

Passing: Harnish*(189-of-292 for 2,530 yards, 21 TDs, 5 INT)

Receiving: Willie Clark* (602 yards, 7 TDs)

Tackles: Kube (81)

Sacks: Coffman (9.5)

Interceptions: T. Clark* (four)

Spring Answers

1. Depth at receiver: Four of the team’s five leading receivers return, giving Harnish plenty of options. Perez Ashford had a nice spring, catching six passes for 70 yards in the spring game. Martel Moore caught the long pass of the game, a 57-yarder from Harnish. Da'Ron Brown and even converted quarterback DeMarcus Grady add plenty more.

2. Jasmin Hopkins atop the running back depth chart: The Huskies have some big shoes to fill with the departure of Spann, the MAC player of the year. There are plenty of candidates between Hopkins, Jamal Womble, Akeem Daniels and Leighton Settle, but Hopkins was the most consistent in the spring.

3. Harnish looks good: The Huskies didn’t implement their entire offense in the spring, but Huskies fans shouldn’t worry even if there is more of a no-huddle look under new coach Dave Doeren. Harnish picked up where he left off last season and had the spring everyone expected. He goes into the fall as the top choice for preseason offensive player of the year.

Fall Questions

1. Doeren adjusts: No matter how much talent returns to the team, how it will play under a new coach and coaching staff will be a question mark until the season begins. Doeren has never been a head coach before, so there could be some bumps along the way.

2. Running back rotation: The Huskies have always been a team that relied on their running game. There is plenty of depth without Spann, but there are still questions about how Doeren is going to balance that depth. Will there be one player consistent enough to take the majority of the carries or will the Huskies be employing a running back by committee?

3. Defensive line, middle linebacker still undecided: With Devon Butler sidelined for the season, expect tough competition for the starting job between Mike Hellams, Cameron Stingley and Victor Jacques. The Huskies also have to replace their sack leader and emotional leader in Jake Coffman. Joe Windsor, Alan Baxter and Stephen O'Neal are in the mix.

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