While the Huskies are coming off a 31-27 loss at Minnesota, Western Michigan is fresh off a season opening 47-24 route at the hands of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln. The Broncos didn't walk away empty-handed as they received $800,000 for the Athletic department coffers.
"We have not been very good the first game of the year," said WMU coach Bill Cubit. "We've been more successful later on. It's something that you have to do for the Athletic department and for the school. I was hoping that we play a little better early. The second half we played real well. We had our chances early. It's good for the kids to see that they can play with those teams, they can't just make the kind of mistakes that we made early."
One thing the two teams have in common is both of their quarterbacks performed well in their respective season openers. For the Broncos, it was quarterback Tim Hiller who tried to rally his team against a Big 12 opponent. "He had a shaky start, but played really well after about the third series," Cubit observed. "He played exceptionally well. He was tough. He threw the ball real well. I think he threw for 340 yards. It was probably one of his better days."
There is a mutual respect between the two coaches headed into this game. "I've known Coach (Cubit) for a long time and have a tremendous amount of respect for him," said Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. "Offensively, he is a very innovative guy that does a lot of things. He's a great game planner. He uses his personnel very well. You can tell he takes great pride in that side of the football. He's very hard to prepare for. He's always going to have some tricks up his sleeve every week."
"Defensively, they've always been aggressive," Kill remarked. "We played them when I was at Southern (Illinois) about two or three years ago. Their secondary is very, very good. They are a very senior-oriented football team. They've got six or seven defensive lineman that are seniors. I know that they feel like that this is their year. Athletically, they're very, very good. I think they'll be one of the better teams we'll play.
Cubit knows that the Huskies will present a challenge at Waldo Stadium on Saturday night. "They play really hard," Cubit said. "They've got talent. They can challenge for the title. They were in it right to the end with a Big 10 team. They're going to be a real tough challenge for us on Saturday."
Coach Kill mentioned that one or two players may have a broken hand. He did not give any names and will know more once X-ray results are in.
Chandler Harnish was wearing dog tags that read "Pride of the Pack" today. The dog tags are a symbol of being part of the Huskie family and were earned by team members who went through two-a-days in August.
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