Novak Pleased with Huskies First Practice

DeKALB, Ill. - On a humid night in DeKalb, the Northern Illinois Huskies worked out for two-and-a-half hours under the lights of Huskie Stadium Tuesday in the first full practice of preseason camp. Monday evening, NIU could not get on the field until nearly an hour into the work out due to thunderstorms in the area.

"It was a good day," said Head Coach Joe Novak, who begins his 12th season at the helm or the program in 2007. "We went for over two-and-a-half hours in the humidity tonight. The kids worked hard, and we ran a lot during practice, so we didn't condition. We are two days farther along than we were when we started. I like the attitude so far, but everybody looks good in shorts."

The Huskies, who will hold their annual Media/Photo Day in DeKalb on Wednesday, will add shoulder pads for Wednesday night's practice before going to full pads for the first time on Friday.

Except for the starting time, Tuesday's workout was a "typical" one for the Huskies featuring individual and team drills as well as kicking. NIU will hold evening practices for the first four days with several players still enrolled in summer school. Novak, for one, prefers day practices.

"I'm not a big fan of night practices," he said. "When you get here at 6:30 in the morning like the coaches do, it's hard to wait around all day to get out here on the field. I don't even have position meetings with the players like our coaches do. so it's even a longer day for me."

While it is still early in the preseason, Novak said he is pleased with the leadership he is seeing so far, especially from the team's four junior captains - wide receiver Britt Davis (Broadview, Ill./Riverside-Brookfield HS), quarterback Dan Nicholson (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice HS), defensive end Larry English (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) and linebacker Tim McCarthy (Neenah, Wisc./Neenah HS)>

I've been very pleased with the leadership, which was a concern of mine coming in to camp," Novak said. "The captains our team elected are all strong personalities and are not afraid to show it. They are vocal captains, which is different than what we had last year where we had a few more `lead by example' guys. I think that is what it takes.

"From what I understand, the captains were vocal all summer and they're still speaking up, demanding things from their teammates. That peer pressure usually works better than me or the coaches saying it. The players expect to hear it from us."

Northern Illinois opens the 2007 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Chicago's Soldier Field versus Iowa. The sold-out game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU. The Huskie Stadium opener will take place Saturday, Sept. 8 versus in-state foe Southern Illinois. Season tickets for NIU's five Huskie Stadium games are on sale now for just $95 at www.niuhuskies.com or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800.

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