No. 23 NIU ready to show off its defense, too

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm •  Published: October 25, 2013
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DE KALB, Ill. (AP) — No. 23 Northern Illinois and quarterback Jordan Lynch typically draw attention for their supercharged offense. After last week, the Huskies' defensive play is getting some notice, too.

NIU (7-0, 3-0 Mid-American) allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards last Saturday in a 38-17 victory at Central Michigan.

"I'm really ecstatic with the defense," Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. "In certain games . the numbers don't look good but the play has been good," Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. "Now the numbers are kind of starting to match up with the play."

The Huskies held the Chippewas to just three points and 97 net yards in the second half. For the game, Central Michigan managed just 75 yards rushing on 30 carries.

Northern Illinois now hopes to shut down Eastern Michigan (1-6, 0-3) and running back Bronson Hill, who ran 23 times for a career-high 258 yards and a touchdown last Saturday against Ohio. He's fifth in conference rushing with 752 yards and a 5.7 per carry average.

"They can run the ball on offense and if you can't stop that run, that's going to be a long day," Carey said.

The Huskies are 10th in the MAC in total defense, allowing an average 443.9 yards per game. But they're tops against the run, giving up just 143.6 yards per game.

Carey cited tackle Ken Bishop (33 tackles) and linebacker Jamaal Bass (50 tackles) as recent defensive standouts.

"(Bishop's) preparation has gotten better each week," Carey said. "(And) I don't know who is playing better than Jamaal Bass right now as a linebacker. We ask a lot of that kid and he does it."

Safety Jimmie Ward, meanwhile, is tied for first nationally with five interceptions and leads the team with 55 tackles.

The Eagles will contend with a Huskies team ranked seventh nationally in total offense (519.9 yards), fourth in rushing (304.7) and a quarterback who set an NCAA single game record last week with 316 rushing yards.

Northern Illinois leads the MAC in scoring offense (39.4 points), rushing offense (304.7 yards) and total offense (519.9 yards).

"They really do a nice job of taking advantage of their weapons with (Lynch) and the wide receivers, playing very sound on defense and playing good team football," Eastern Michigan coach Ron English said. "I've had them in my top 25 for at least the last three or four weeks."

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