No Place Like Home for Northern Illinois

In this report, we hear from both Jerry Kill, the coach of the NIU Huskies, and Miami RedHawks coach Shane Montgomery as their teams prepare for Saturday's MAC battle at Huskie Stadium.

For Northern Illinois (2-3, 1-1), the friendly confines of Huskie Stadium are a welcome site after spending so much time on the road this season. The Huskies begin a three game homestand on Saturday afternoon. "It's great to be at home," said Kill. "We've played four out of five on the road. I can't wait to play here. We'll have a big crowd. It's a huge game for us."

Miami comes in with a 1-4 record and some uncertainty at the quarterback position. In the RedHawks 28-10 loss to Temple last Saturday, starter Daniel Raudabaugh was pulled in the third quarter after Miami went scoreless in the first half. Raudabaugh was eight of 18 for 65 yards.

Redshirt freshman Clay Belton relieved Raudabaugh and went 14 of 22 for 147 yards and led Miami to two scoring drives in the second half. Montgomery is holding an open competition this week in practice for the starting spot with both quarterbacks getting time with the first unit on offense.

It's understandable why Montgomery wants to shake things up on offense as they are in last place in the MAC in scoring. Turnovers are something that have hurt the RedHawks this season and they've proved costly. Nine of Miami's 12 turnovers have been in opponent's territory.

What Miami lacks on the offensive side of the ball, they make up for on defense and special teams. They are led by senior middle linebacker Joey Hudson who leads the MAC in tackles with 55. "They're a very good defensive team and very aggressive," Kill said.

Redhawks punter Jake Richardson leads the NCAA in punting at 48.09 yards per punt. "He is a great punter," Kill observed. "Not a good punter, a great punter. He can kick it 60 yards with a 4.4 (second) hang time. He's a big-time punter. He controls field position and they play good on defense. They're aggressive. They're going to blitz you and they're good at it. Any time you've got a great punter and good defense, you've got problems."

The Huskies will present some problems for Miami as well. "Northern Illinois has a very physical offense," said Montgomery. "They like to line up and run the ball right at you. They're going to start with the run. That's the way Coach Kill is. We're going to have to be physical. We're still going to see elements of the spread (offense), but it's going to be a very physical game."

On the other side of the ball, NIU has been holding opponents tough as of late. The Huskies held Tennessee to 13 points and shut out Eastern Michigan. "They're very physical defensively," Montgomery said. "They've played really well in all phases of defense. They're very good up front. In Larry English they've got one of the best defensive lineman in the league. They're flying around the ball. They like to put a lot of guys near the line of scrimmage. They're very opportunistic. They've got a number of turnovers this year. They like to play their ends wide and penetrate. They move a lot up front. When you get that you've got to be real consistent in your run schemes and your pass schemes."

Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.

HASF Receives Largest Donation Ever

DeKALB, Ill. -- Coming off a second consecutive record year of donations, the Huskie Athletic Scholarship Fund (HASF) received another milestone gift this week.

DeKalb residents Ron and Nancy Proesel have made a $100,000 unrestricted gift to the HASF. In addition to being the largest donation ever to the HASF, there is also a unique component of the gift - The Proesel Challenge.

Over a four-year period, the Proesels will match up to $25,000 annually in new dollars to the HASF. The Proesels hope their gift will inspire others like it and also inspire NIU alumni and friends of all ages to become involved with the HASF, as it continues to provide opportunities for NIU's 475 student-athletes.

"We are proud to make this commitment to NIU and directly benefit the student-athletes," the Proesels said in a joint statement. "Hopefully, this can be a catalyst to assist the HASF in continuing its rapid growth. We are proud to support the Huskies and encourage all NIU friends and alumni to remember that every dollar counts."

Last month, final HASF numbers produced a better than 10 percent increase in number of donors, a record number of new donors, and a dollar total of over $1.2 million.

"Ron and Nancy Proesel have truly created a legacy gift for Huskie Athletics," said Tim McMurray, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development. "We will use this historic commitment as an example for our Varsity Club, our young alumni programs, and those who have been on the sidelines relative to supporting Huskie Athletics. If they make a gift to the HASF, it can now have double the impact."

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