Created: Friday, November 23, 2012 11:00 a.m. CST
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Take 2: Return of Ashford boosts passing game

By STEVE NITZ and ROSS JACOBSON - sports@daily-chronicle.com

Jacobson: Steve, let's talk about something we haven't discussed a lot this season. And yes, that means it isn't going to be about everyone's favorite Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch. Instead, let's focus on the health of the Huskies going into NIU's final regular season game against Eastern Michigan.

How big of a boost was the return of WR Perez Ashford before the Toledo game and what does he bring going forward into the postseason?

Nitz: Martel Moore is clearly the Huskies' No. 1 wide receiver, and he showed why during the Toledo win. But having Ashford back as a compliment will be a big deal these last three games of the season, and he had a nice game last week, with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Losing left tackle Tyler Loos will hurt, but I think NIU has to be happy with its health this late in the season. Getting safety Jimmie Ward, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and linebacker Victor Jacques back last week was big for NIU's underrated defense.
Jacobson:
How big of a deal is the loss of Tyler Loos for the rest of the season? We've talked a lot about how well the offensive line has played, but now there will be some shifting pieces.
Nitz:
It's a big loss. Loos was a big part of the line, protecting Jordan Lynch's blind side. However, the guy taking his place, sophomore Ryan Brown, has started the past 10 games at right tackle, so it's not like he's getting thrown into the fire. Matt Krempel, who will take Brown's place at right tackle, has rotated at the position this season, so he's experienced as well.

Not having Loos hurts, but I think it's a loss the Huskies can overcome.

Jacobson: So you're saying the Huskies will be fine in Ypsilanti today?
Nitz:
I know, anything can happen, but I'd be shocked if the Huskies were upset today. NIU hasn't shown many weaknesses during its 10-game winning streak, while Eastern Michigan has a ton of them. I see the Huskies running all over the Eagles, with the starters on the bench in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, I surely didn't expect Baylor to dominate Kansas State last weekend, so you never know what can happen on a given Saturday.

Does NIU coach Rod Carey get enough credit for NIU's season?
Yes
No