Thursday, December 03, 2015

25 questions for all the marbles

What is their body of work?

It was hard for it to be a lot better.  The Huskies have won the MAC West for the last 6 seasons.  That's an impressive track record of success.  For one of those years they ended in the Orange Bowl and the next year they were undefeated when they lost to BG.  This year's team is 8-4.  They played OSU very tough, lost to BC and then CMU and OU in the MAC.  They beat Toledo and won the West when the Rockets lost to WMU.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

23, which means a very young team.  NIU is poised to be better next year.

Who are their statistical leaders?

FBS Ranks

1st - Shawun Lurry, Interceptions
1st - Shawun Lurry, Passes defended/Game
14th- Kenny Golladay, Receiving TDs
20th- Kenny Golladay, Receiving Yards
4th- Joel Bouagnon, Rushing TDs

What is their turnover ratio?

In MAC play, they are +2.  (BG is +10)

Offense:  (Unless noted all stats are MAC games only)

 How is their QB play?

Well, that's an interesting question.  They have had injuries and finished the OU game with the player who was their 4th QB in fall camp.  He is a true FR walk-on...Tommy Fiedler.  He is supposed to start, but Ryan Graham could play.  When he was playing, Graham was the #6 QB in the MAC in passing efficiency.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 4th in the MAC in scoring and 5th in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

Well, they lead the MAC in yards per game, but that's partly because they run the ball more than anyone else.  They carried the ball 416 times in MAC games, and the next most was Toledo at 355.  On a yards per carry average, they had 4.7 yards per carry, which was 4th in the MAC and behind BG.  Either way, their commitment to the run is one of the reasons I think BG fans should temper their enthusiasm over the QB situation.  This team is used to running and taking pressure off the QB and kept winning after Drew Hare was injured.

Do they pass the ball?

Of course, this is largely QB dependent.  They were 7th in the MAC in passing yards, mostly because they were 10th in passing attempts.  They were 4th in efficiency.  They completed 62% of their passes at 12.6 yards per completion (BG had 12.9), which has been their game for a long time.  Draw the opposition in with the run and go over the top.  They have 15TDs over 4 INT.

How was their run/pass balance?

They run on 64% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are good....4th at 44%.  BG converts 56%.
Johnson to Lewis.  Not that complicated

Do they score in the red zone?

They might be the best red zone team I have ever seen. They have 33 trips and have scored on 31 of them. With 24 TDs and 7 FGs, they average more than 6 points per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have allowed 12 sacks, which is in the middle of the conference, but a little worse given the low number of attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They do not have the normal NIU defense.  They are 7th in scoring defense and 4th in yards per play allowed.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are tied for 4th in the MAC in yards per carry of the teams they are tied with is BG.

Can they be passed on?

It is tough.  They give up yards, but that's due to a lot of attempts.  They are 2nd in pass defense efficiency.  They allow only 55% completions with 11.4 yards per reception, both of which are very good.  They have allowed 14 TD passes and have 11 picks, which is 2nd to BG.  The Falcons lead the MAC in pass defense efficiency.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 10th in the MAC.

Let's make the marbles orange
Do they defend in the red zone?

They are pretty good.  They have allowed scores on 24 out of 28 trips, but only 13 of those were TDs.  This equals 4.4 points per trip, which is really good.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are in the middle of the MAC with 15 sacks.  (BG is second with 18)

Special Teams:


This is the weakest part of the team.  They are last in the MAC in net punting.  They have been blocked once (all games).

Punt Return?

They have 14 punts for 65 yards and no TDs, which is typical.


He's good.  He is 14 out of 18 with 2 missed Xps.  He has a long of 52 and only 1 bad miss.  (all games)


They are very good, second in the MAC with teams starting around the 22.  Long return allowed was 33 yards.

Kickoff Return?

They are second in the MAC in kickoff returns.  Their KOR, Aregeros Turner, was the MAC Special Teams Player of the year.  This is a point of high danger for BG, given what we have done defending kickoffs as late as last week.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.
And let's do this agin.

So I was getting ready to write this and I saw that BG is a 12 point favorite in this game.  And I put on my shocked face.  The line opened at 8, which means people were betting BG and needed more incentive to bet NIU.

That's a wow.

NIU had 8 players on first team All-MAC, they are proven winners with a very good running game.  Yes, I know they are in a tough position at QB, but BG played in the weaker division.  Yes, BG smoked OU and OU beat NIU in DeKalb, but NIU beat UT and BG lost to UT at the Doyt.

I wouldn't have guessed it at more than 3.

And it is driving me crazy, because Tommy Fiedler would make such a "feel good" story.

On the other hand, the UCF debacle probably brought the team together.  I hope it has created a hyper-focus...certainly appeared to in the Coach.

One key:  a fast start.  If BG can get up a couple scores, they can force NIU to play out of style and typically this year, that has been a deadly place to be against this team.

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