Northern Illinois Coach Eager to Get Started

On Thursday afternoon, new Northern Illinois football coach Jerry Kill broke bread with the Chicago media at Harry Caray's restaurant in Chicago. Kill couldn't help but think back to when he was hired a few months earlier. "The last time I was here, I was taking the job," Kill said.

As much as the former Southern Illinois coach enjoys talking to reporters, Jerry is eager to get out on the football field and begin preparing for the Huskies opener at Minnesota on August 30th. "We're looking forward to the season," said Kill. "Our kids have done a great job through the transition. We have worked very hard through the offseason. Spring ball was difficult. The weather was not the most cooperative. The kids never complained, never moaned, never groaned. They've done an outstanding job this summer."

Northern Illinois players report on Sunday and begin their first practice on Monday. "I cannot wait till Monday," shared Jerry. "I'll be honest with you. I can't wait to step on that football field. That's what I enjoy doing. I love being around the players, coaching them, and teaching them."

Kill is taking over for retired Huskie coach Joe Novak. He plans on sticking with the same offensive scheme that he used in Carbondale. "We'll be similar to what we were at Southern Illinois," Jerry expressed. "We'll have a fullback in there part of the time. We'll try to get mismatches with the defense. You still have to be able to run the ball. Where I've been in the past, we've always had a good running game."

"I believe to compete in the MAC conference, you've got to be able to run," Kill said. "I felt like taking the job, we're going to build this thing on speed. A good friend of mine is Gary Patterson, the head coach at TCU. That's what we did at Southern, we tried to be built like TCU. I like running."

With speed in mind, NIU tailback Justin Anderson has dropped 12 pounds. "I want him lean and I want him to be able to run."

The Huskies had more than their share of injuries last season, but anticipate a healthy squad going into Monday's practice. Even offensive guard Jason Onyebuagu and defensive back Tyler Knight, who had early summer surgeries, are expected to be ready to go.

One of the bigger question marks for NIU going into this season is the quarterback position. Senior QB Dan Nicholson had shoulder surgery on his throwing arm in January and sat out spring practice. Nicholson is expected to be in good shape headed into Monday. "Dan's a senior," Kill said. "He's been out there. He's worked hard to get back where he's at. He's worked hard this summer. He'll step in there and we'll get him going."

"Danny has looked real good this summer," said wide receiver Britt Davis. "He's throwing the ball hard than ever. He's looking good."

Stay tuned to for additional coverage of the Huskies media day in Chicago.

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