Created:Monday, October 26, 2009 11:47 p.m.CDT

MAC Notebook

Northern Illinois defensive end Jake Coffman makes a tackle this past Saturday against Miami (Ohio). (Scott Walstrom – NIU Media Services)

After watching the film of Saturday's 27-22 victory at Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois football coach Jerry Kill says quarterback DeMarcus Grady's comfort level grew as the game progressed.

"I think he settled in a little bit," Kill said Monday. "He made some plays with his feet. If he doesn't, we're not sitting here talking about winning the game."

Grady started his first game of the season in place of the injured Chandler Harnish, who could be out 2-3 weeks with an unspecified knee injury. He finished the game 6 of 10 for 60 yards and had 55 yards rushing.

Kill said Grady should feel a lot more comfortable this week as the 4-3 (2-1 Mid-American Conference West) Huskies prepare to play Akron (1-6, 0-3 MAC East) in an 11 a.m. home game Saturday.

NIU running back Chad Spann said he saw an uptick in Grady's poise throughout the Miami game, something Grady will need in a three-game homestand crucial to the Huskies' hopes of making it to a bowl.

"He just got more comfortable," Spann said. "He was making plays, not only throwing the ball, but he was making them with his feet, which is what we need out of him. We need him to make those third-and-short plays when he's running the ball."

Kill also said that redshirt freshman defensive tackle Brian Lawson has a hand/finger injury, which kept him out of the Miami game and it is unknown how long Lawson will be sidelined. Kill didn't rule out that the injury could be season-ending. Lawson's hand was injured before the Toledo game when it got caught up in a shoulder pad on a play, but doctors cleared him to play against the Rockets. Lawson had surgery on the hand this past Friday.

Jake Coffman started at nose guard in Lawson's place against Miami and recorded 2.5 sacks. Kill said he would prefer to move Coffman back outside to end and some of that movement will depend on the improvement of Nabal Jefferson and Adam Coleman.

"A lot of it will be according to who we play," Kill said.

Finally, sophomore wide receiver Nate Palmer was not on the dress list for Saturday's game because of an issue with team policy, Kill said. Kill also said the issue was strictly team-related and not legally-related.
Stepping out:
After ripping off five MAC wins in a row, Central Michigan will travel to Boston College for a 2:30 p.m. game Saturday.

Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said getting out of conference play while on a long winning streak had its positives and negatives, the main negative being that the Chippewas are playing with a lot of confidence and he wanted to keep that going against MAC opponents.

"On the other side, it's a nice change-up," Jones said. "It's a different venue."

Looking for balance: Western Michigan has been a team that passes to set up the run under coach Bill Cubit, but the Broncos have thrown the ball even more than Cubit wants over the past couple of games.

In this past Saturday's 34-31 overtime victory against Buffalo, the Broncos threw the ball 55 times and ran it 33. The previous Saturday against Central Michigan, they threw it 66 times and had 26 rushes.

"I'd rather run it a little bit more, but the last couple of weeks hasn't dictated it too much," Cubit said.
A little testy:
Ball State coach Stan Parrish bristled when asked about his first victory as a head coach since Oct. 18, 1986, when he was the coach of Kansas State, after his Ball State team defeated Eastern Michigan, 29-27. It was a losing streak of 34 games for Parrish, who was 2-30-1 in his tenure at Kansas State and is 1-7 this season as the coach of Ball State.

"The streak is a media invention at a different place and at a different time," Parrish said. "I kind of had to expect that a little bit. The worst part is it rubs off on your players. [The media] can say what they want about me, but that’s totally irrelevant to the experience I’m in now. I’ve made peace with it."

Standout stat: Ball State's MiQuale Lewis ran for 301 yards against Eastern Michigan and Lewis' teammate, Cory Sykes, ran for 203 yards. It marked the first time in FBS history that a team had one 300-yard rusher and one 200-yard rusher in the same game.

Quotable: "I've never been 0-7, so I don't know how to act. I just have to keep going." – Eastern Michigan coach Ron English.

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?