Northern Illinois, coming off a 2-10 finish last season, has been predicted to finish in last place in the MAC West division by the MAC News Media Association.
The Huskies are now healthy and hope to surprise after being plagued with the injury bug last season. "The big thing is we suffered a ton of injuries a year ago and we didn't have those youngsters and went through a lot of surgeries," Kill said. "They didn't go through spring ball, but we've got them all back now. So, we're looking forward to getting them out there on Monday and seeing what we have."
"I know the kids want to get that taste out of their mouths about being 2-10," added the first year coach.
The former Southern Illinois coach has taken over the reigns from legendary NIU coach Joe Novak. Kill feels that his style is similar to Novak's. "I think there are a lot of similarities," Jerry said. "Offensively we're a little bit different because we utilize the fullback more than Joe did. We still want to be able to run the ball, but we're good out of a lot of different formations. We will get in three and four wides and try to keep defenses off balance. We turned our program around at Southern with special teams and we spent a lot of time on it. Just like Joe did, we want to be able to run the ball and stop the run. The key to our success is to cut down on the injuries and mistakes."
On the offensive side of the ball, Kill hopes to stay healthy. "The right side of our offensive line with Jon Brost, Jason Onyebuagu, and Eddie Adamski, we feel good about that," Jerry expressed. "We've got to solidify our left side, getting Britt Davis back and Matt Simon. Getting those guys healthy and with Danny Nicholson coming off shoulder surgery. Justin Anderson had a great year last year. He's in a lot better shape and we've got Montell Clanton back."
On defense the Huskies bring MAC league MVP Larry English at defensive end. "Larry is not only a great player, but he is an even better person," remarked Jerry. "He is a tremendous young man. He's been a great leader. He has been in my corner since day one. He's helped the players understand what we want. I can't say enough about Larry and the job he's done, since I've been there."
"To be honest we're just looking to build off of a great new coaching staff that we just got in and really a great offseason that we've had," English said. "The thing that is different is we've got a lot more guys that are on the same page right now. So, I think for us the sky's the limit."
Fellow senior Matt Simon is also optimistic about the coming season. "We've got all these guys back and we're really eager to come in," Simon said. "We've got a lot of older guys and stronger guys on offense. We need to solidify the offensive line. They really set the tone"
The Huskies open up the season at Minnesota on August 30th.
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