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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

Blog swap

John Sahly, the Northern Illinois beat reporter for the Daily Chronicle, and I will swap blogs this week. I didn't oblige until John promised me a guest spot on the Best Damn Sports Show Period.

Before I get to his post, the Orange and Brown men's basketball scrimmage will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Anderson Arena and will be open to the public.

Here's John....

Since coming to DeKalb, Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill said he was going to build his football team around defense and special teams.

He's done that in his first season.

The NIU defense, led by senior defensive end Larry English, ranks at the top of the MAC in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and turnover margin. It hasn't been by accident, as the Huskies have kept things simple on defense and have simply been able to pressure the quarterback with their front four. NIU has started moving English around, forcing offenses to adjust their protections based on where English is. That's something Bowling Green will have to look out for on Saturday.

That said, the Huskies haven't played an offense like Bowling Green in NIU's recent 4-1 stretch. Bowling Green isn't setting the world on fire with its offense, but it is still better than Toledo and Miami (Ohio). So we'll see how much of the defensive success for NIU was because the Huskies were playing some bad offensive teams.

In the kicking game, punter Andy Dittbenner averages 40.9 yards per punt and kicker Mike Salerno already has 11 touchbacks on kickoffs.

On offense, Northern Illinois brings a successful running back rotation that's been able to win games. Freshman Me'co Brown (383 rushing yards) and sophomore Chad Spann (216 yards) have received the majority of the carries in the past few games. Redshirt freshman Chandler Harnish will start at quarterback and appears to have knocked the rust off after missing a month with a right mid-foot sprain.

If Bowling Green is to pick up another road win, it will have find a way to rattle Harnish, who so far has only been stopped by injury.

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