Created:Saturday, April 21, 2012 9:09 a.m.CDT
FONT SIZE:

Offensive line under scrutiny

By JOHN SAHLY - jsahly@shawmedia.com
Tyler Pitt (left) of the Northern Illinois offensive line works out during a drill at Huskie Stadium at NIU’s first spring practice. (Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)

DeKALB – Logan Pegram looks at today as an opportunity.

Northern Illinois will play its spring football game at 1:30 p.m. today at Huskie Stadium, the 15th and final practice of the spring for the Huskies. Pegram, a senior left guard, anchors an offensive line group that drew the most intrigue entering, and likely exiting, spring practices.

“I think [today’s] a great chance to show how good we actually are,” Pegram said after Friday’s practice. “Everyone wants to talk about the guys that have graduated. That’s great because they’re a great group, I was a part of that, but I’m excited because this is a new group that’s able to show how good we actually are.”

While NIU’s offensive line works in four new starters, NIU coach Dave Doeren said it’s the position group he’s going to spend significant time studying at the scrimmage.

Pegram says a number of the younger players, those who were second-stringers last year, stepped up during the first 14 practices. Today stands as a chance to prove to the coaches that they belong with the first string in the fall.

The players will be divided into Red and White teams, though some players may change jerseys throughout the game and play on both squads. The White squad, composed mostly of second-team players, will receive double points for touchdowns, while the kicking competition at the end of the first quarter will not count in the point totals. The game will be played in four quarters, with the first half running a normal clock and the second half running a continuous clock.

“I’d love to see the Red offense score a bunch and the Red defense shut them out,” Doeren said with a smile. “But just really it’s about getting better. It’s mainly for the fans, but for us as coaches it’s still a practice.”

And while it’s a practice the Huskies approach in a serious manner, today is a different experience for those involved.

“I’ll enjoy it,” Doeren said. “I told the team, ‘You busted your [rear ends] for 14 practices. Let’s celebrate and have fun [today] during the game and stay healthy.’ “

Pegram echoed Doeren’s sentiment.

“I think it’s a lot better than the other 14 that we’ve had, because it’s the culmination of everything,” Pegram said. “It’s all coming to an end. We’re ending that step of spring ball, but we’re also getting ready to start summer workouts and finish school.”

Will the NIU football team play for the MAC title this year?
Yes
No
Too soon to tell