DeKALB – Cory Hanson took a look at Ohio's pistol offense and concluded one thing for certain.
"It's interesting," the Northern Illinois senior linebacker said.
The pistol offense, basically a version of the triple option, only with a stronger shotgun element, more deep passing and a running back that lines up directly behind the quarterback, has become increasingly popular in recent years and NIU's opponent Saturday, Ohio, runs it as its primary offense.
The Bobcats (7-3, 5-1 MAC East) have been successful with it in that they have consistently kept opponents off-balance enough to win close games, going 4-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less.
Hanson, who also mentioned that Ball State ran a couple of plays out of the pistol, said what makes it so difficult to stop is that the timing of the defense is thrown off by the quickness of the plays.
"Most of the teams in the MAC that run this true zone are east to west on the handoff in the shotgun," Hanson said. "With the pistol, it’s more north to south. We’re just trying to prepare our run defense to attack the pistol. It’s a little faster developing than the true zone."
It makes Ohio's offense different from most of the spread offenses that the Huskies have seen in the MAC this season.
"They run the same thing Nevada does and they have been very successful on offense (39.1 points a game), out in the WAC," Kill said. "They’re very good at executing what they do. It’s totally different than what you will see throughout the year. If you don’t play assignment football, it’s going to be a long day."
What has kept Ohio from putting up Nevada-like numbers, though, is its lack of red zone success. The Bobcats, who average 24.7 points a game, rank 10th in the MAC in red zone efficiency, scoring only 68.8 percent of the time.
Injury updates: Kill said running back Chad Spann (shoulder) would not practice Tuesday, but reiterated that Spann would remain a game-time decision. Running back Me'co Brown has an ankle injury and Kill said the sophomore hasn't been 100 percent for 2-3 weeks. Brown practiced on Sunday but limped throughout the practice. Kill said on Tuesday if the game were that day that Brown would play.
"We still have Justin Anderson and Ricky Crider who have played some minutes," Kill said. "We’re not going to sit around and worry about what we can’t control. Hopefully, Chad will be ready to go. We’re going to start the next one and play.”
Kill also said that safety David Bryant, who injured a knee against Miami (Ohio) could be available to play but will see how the week develops. Bryant participated in more of practice than he did last week.
On the positive side for the Huskies, Kill said quarterback Chandler Harnish's right knee came out better than expected after Harnish played the second half against Ball State this past Thursday.
"I think Chandler Harnish was kind of surprised at how good he did feel at the end of the game, which is a good thing for us," Kill said. "He practiced on Sunday. He didn’t have as much swelling as we had anticipated. It was good that he got minutes during that game. It’s going to help us going into this one."