Created:Thursday, August 16, 2012 9:48 p.m.CDT
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Aug. 16 Q&A

The Daily Chronicle's Steve Nitz answers your NIU- and MAC-related questions right here. Look for a new installment of questions and answers each week. Submit your questions to Steve on Twitter @SNitz_DDC or at snitz@shawmedia.com.

Question from Kevin Lake:
Steve, keep up the good work. Many starving NIU football fans out here. I have a question. Which redshirt freshmen and true freshmen have stood out? Has Coach Doeren mentioned any by name? Could you ask him?

Kevin, I asked Doeren which freshmen have stood out to him after Thursday's practice. In terms of true freshmen, he mentioned wide receiver Charlie Miller, cornerback Marlon Moore, tight end Desroy Maxwell and defensive tackle Mario Jones.

Doeren said Miller, who only played one year of high school football in Vero Beach, Fla., has made a lot of plays. Doeren also likes his pass-catching ability. Earlier this week, Doeren told me Jones should see playing time this season, and said Maxwell is a "physical kid."

In terms of redshirt freshmen, Doeren mentioned guards Andrew Ness, Matthew Killian and Aidan Conlon. Doeren is excited about those three and thinks the offensive line has a bright future. That's a good sign for Huskie fans.

Other redshirt freshmen who I could see getting some playing time are wide receiver Juwan Brescacin and middle linebacker Boomer Mays. Brescacin has great size (6-4, 219), while Mays has been taking snaps with the first team while Victor Jacques has been out with a leg injury.

Question from Nick Rex, @Nickrexum:

Can we expect that the defense (and the offense for that matter) will be better prepared for [the season-opener against Iowa] at Soldier Field?

If NIU loses to Iowa, it won't be because the Huskies weren't prepared. The coaching staff is going to do everything it can to get ready for that game. The Huskies didn't lose to the Badgers last season because they weren't prepared. They were beaten by a much better team. That Wisconsin team was really, really good.

The problem is Iowa is a bigger, more talented team. The Hawkeyes aren't as strong as last year's Wisconsin team, but they're still looking like a middle of the pack Big Ten team. Not to mention there will be a strong Iowa contingent Sept. 1. It's not going to be an easy game for NIU.

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