DeKALB – Jerry Kill chit-chatted with parent s of several true freshman following Saturday’s Huskie Football Fan Day scrimmage. Entering the final week of training camp, the Northern Illinois coach told the parents of the one-and-a-half-week old Huskies that he’s in the process of making their sons into men.
Kill’s favorite reply? “All right.”
“That’s all I need to hear,” said a smiling Kill.
The NIU coach is definitely working his players.
NIU concluded a hot and humid week of practice with what Kill estimated to be a 140-snap scrimmage, likely the longest of his three-year tenure, over two hours Saturday at Huskie Stadium. Kill said his team has been “humming it” in practice lately after taking 98 snaps during about an 80-minute second practice on Friday afternoon.
A day off on Sunday was a welcome reprieve for some panting Huskies.
“This is the toughest I’ve been on a football team here, as far as demands and the way we’re going to do things,” Kill said. “I don’t know, I guess I get that way about my third year. I feel everything out then I’m going to do it my way. I’ve been tough on them and they’ve responded pretty well.”
The NIU coaches used scrimmages on Thursday and Saturday to evaluate individual progression but have paid close attention to the group of 30-plus freshmen. Kill said he thinks about 10 members of the Class of 2010 signing class could help the team immediately.
“But we’ll find out if they can helps us next week because there will probably be eight of them out on the boundary going, ‘Oh, I don’t know. This is hard,’” Kill said. “You got to play 12 games, 13 games, whatever it is, and it’s a grind. Once they start schoolwork and are getting up at 6:30 in the morning and all that stuff, it’s a lot to handle. We’re going to find out how much they can handle.”
The NIU veterans are accustomed the training-camp grind.
“A lot of us seniors have gotten through four (training camps), and we’re going to get through this fifth one, and we’re going to work on our tail ends off,” senior linebacker Alex Kube said. “Especially coach Kill and these coaches, they’re go, go, go go, go. That’s what’s going to make us good. Some of these freshmen we’re going to have to bring along.”
Life will return to more than just 24/7 football for the Huskies when NIU starts class Monday, Aug. 23. But the upperclassmen know they must concentrate on improving during each of the eight practice sessions scheduled during the next week instead of just getting through them.
They travel to Iowa State in 19 days.
“You just go to take it day by day, practice by practice,” senior offensive tackle Trevor Olson said. “We got to get ready for the season so we have to take every rep we get and take advantage of it.”