Created:Friday, March 25, 2011 5:30 a.m.CDT

Huskies make improvements in 2nd workout

Defensive end Anthony Wells (91) practices a technique on defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during practice Thursday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. (Kyle Bursaw –

DeKALB – Dave Doeren had a big smile when he stepped into the Yordon Center after Thursday morning’s practice, and he had good reason for it.

Not only was he stepping out of the bitter cold – on this morning, that was reason enough to celebrate – he was pleased with what he just had seen from his players during the previous two-plus hours.

Doeren said NIU had a good practice on Day 2 of spring football, much cleaner than Tuesday’s opening day.

“We cleaned up a lot,” Doeren said. “The snaps were a lot better for the quarterback. Our guys are a little more relaxed. I think key guys were pressing the first day to impress me or their (position) coaches, came off of a great year and wanted to snap right into it. It was a lot better practice today.”

Secondary, Davis impress: Facing a talented and deep group of receivers, the NIU secondary will get a thorough workout this spring. Going against an offense as fast-paced as the Huskies, the job gets even harder.

The defensive backs passed the test Thursday.

NIU’s secondary was flying around the field, consistently making plays. It also forced quarterback Chandler Harnish, who for the most part has looked good, to throw some interceptions.

“I was real happy with their communication today, the way they got lined up,” Doeren said. “You know, as a defense playing a fast-tempo offense, you’ve got to snap right to the next play, get your eyes on the coach, get the call, see the formation. And I thought they did a phenomenal job of that today.”

Along those lines, Doeren said defensive back Tommy Davis stood out to him Thursday.

“I saw him do some really good things,” Doeren said. “Other than him, no, I didn’t see anything really special outside of that.”

The football part begins Saturday: The first two days of practice were focused on the mental part of football. Before working on the physical part, Doeren wanted the players to pick up his schemes and terminology.

In that regard, Doeren said it’s been a successful first week so far. If the progress NIU made from Day 1 to Day 2 is any indication, that success should continue.

“They thought (about) a lot of stuff in the first two days, that was kind of the plan,” Doeren said. “We’ll put the pads on Saturday, back off a little bit from that (mental) standpoint. But I thought the guys handled their work load pretty good.”

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