N. Illinois O-Line Gearing for Gopher Test

Northern Illinois will face Minnesota in the season opener Aug. 30. The Huskies finished just 2-10 last year, costing Joe Novak his coaching job. The Huskies played two Big Ten teams last year, losing to Iowa 16-3 in the season opener and Wisconsin 44-3. They hired Southern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill, whose Saluki team beat Northern Illinois 34-31 in the season's second game.

Jerry Kill and his offensive staff have modeled their offensive line after the NFL Denver Broncos, who have been one of the top blocking corps in the league, despite a lack of size. The Huskies return their ninth straight 1,000-yard rusher in Justin Anderson.

"Justin fits in the system well, because we like to have a big, strong, physical back," said running backs coach Rob Reeves. "He also has other attributes to his game - he can bounce it (outside), he's got good vision, he's learning and understanding the offense. On top of that, he's a good blocker in pass protection, and that's extremely important."

Anderson ran for 1,245 yards, scored eight touchdowns, and started the last 10 games after Montell Clanton suffered a season-ending knee injury for the second consecutive season. Clanton, who sat out the spring after double-knee surgery, now sits atop the depth chart alongside Anderson to start the 2008 campaign.

The offensive line will be expected to open holes for the Huskies' running game and protect likely starting quarterback Chandler Harnish, a redshirt freshman. Dan Nicholson, who started nine games, underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Northern Illinois returns two veteran players in junior center Eddie Adamski and senior tackle Jon Brost, a native of Maple Grove.

Adamski, a freshman All-American in 2006, has started all 25 games during his career and figures to anchor the line for the Huskies. Brost earned ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District V honors and was an Academic All-MAC selection for the second straight season. He was named third-team All-MAC as voted by the league's coaches. Brost started all 12 games at right tackle and leads the team with 35 career starts. He played every offensive snap and coaches named him the team's top lineman as a junior. Brost was an academic All-MAC selection as a sophomore and was a third-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.

Brost is joined on the right side by returning starting junior guard Jason Onyebuagu, who is coming back from offseason left knee surgery. Senior guard Dan Keller gives them depth at the position.

Redshirt junior Kevin Skatrud figures to be the starting left guard position with sophomore Panan Tense in reserve.

Left tackle is manned by redshirt freshmen Trevor Olson of Richfield and Joe Pawlak.


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories