DeKALB – To Rod Carey, stats lie.
Northern Illinois' head coach thinks they can tell the truth as well, but in the case of Kent State, the stats don't add up for him.
The Golden Flashes record is just 2-3. However, Carey feels Kent State's mark isn't indicative of this year's team, a squad which has played at No. 10 LSU and Penn State, and has took on Bowling Green, arguably the favorite in the MAC East.
"You want to know how stats lie? Here's how stats lie. So, you look at their stats and someone told me they're averaging like 16 points (16.8 to be exact) a game and 150 or so yards rushing a game (The Flashes average 139)," Carey said. "Well, you look at last week vs. Western Michigan, I think they ran for almost 300 yards (276), they scored 32 points, and I think they were outrageous on third down (9 of 16).
"They're really good, and they've proven it. Yeah, I think [the record] is very misleading."
One reason the Golden Flashes' record could be misleading is Kent State RB/WR Dri Archer, who injured his ankle against Liberty Week 1 before returning last week. In the win over the Broncos, Archer ran for 73 yards on six carries, and caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Carey called Archer probably the fastest player he's seen on film, and another challenge the senior brings is where he lines up. His No. 1 uniform will be in the backfield and out wide Saturday at Dix Stadium, where fans have been encouraged to wear gold as part of a "gold out."
"I think we have to be pointing him out the whole time," NIU linebacker Michael Santacaterina said. "Every time he comes out we're going to say 'No. 1, No. 1' and wherever he is lined up, whether it's in the backfield or in the slot, it's all about the scheme and how we're going to defend it."
Archer's return could mean bad news for a Huskie defense which is giving up 169.3 rushing yards per game and is ranked 78th in the nation. Kent State's other main back, Trayion Durham, is having a nice year as well, with 344 yards for a 4.0 yards per carry average. He had 154 yards last week.
NIU's defense ranks 118th in yardage (501.2 ypg) and 88th in scoring (31.3 ppg), but it's another case where Carey doesn't feel numbers are telling the story. The Huskies have done a great job forcing turnovers as opponents have turned the ball over 13 times against NIU.
"I've said to you guys from the beginning. I'm not a big numbers guy. I go off what I see and our defense has been playing opportunistically," Carey said. "Now, would we like better numbers? Yes. Other than that, I've been pleased and there are things to clean up. I think stats can give you a peek into some things, and other things they can really lie to you about."