DeKALB – Northern Illinois leads the nation in fewest sacks allowed.
The Huskies are giving up only a half a sack a game. When it comes to tackles for loss, NIU is 10th in the nation, allowing only four a game heading into this week’s contest at Central Michigan.
All season, No. 23 NIU’s front five has gotten to the second level to pave the way for Jordan Lynch and Cameron Stingily.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the Huskies have all five starters back from last year.
“I think the best part right now is everyone being on the same page and being able to adjust on the fly,” senior guard Jared Volk said. “We’re a close group and we’re in film watching together every single day, especially the front five, and whenever we come off the field and notice something different that we see on film, we tell coach, we draw it up and we’re all on the same page.
“Just communication is our best part right now and that’s helping us get to the right spot at the right time.”
Some credit for the lack of sacks has to go to Lynch’s scrambling ability and being able to create plays for himself. Lynch said the chemistry on the offensive line has grown, and noted that this year he’s been staying in the pocket longer.
Lynch also blamed himself for the three sacks NIU has given up.
“I feel really comfortable back there in the pocket,” Lynch said. “... I think the three sacks are on me trying to scramble or doing something. So I feel really comfortable in the pocket.”
However, in last week’s win against Akron, NIU coach Rod Carey wasn’t happy with the play of the line.
“I’ll say this, and this is as on O-line coach, and coach (Joe) Tripodi (NIU’s offensive line coach) will echo it on me, there wasn’t much we did good in that game last Saturday,” Carey said.
Left tackle Tyler Loos said the Zips pushed the Huskies around.
“We just need to be more physical. Akron kind of got after us a little bit,” he said. “This week we just need to play on their side of the line of scrimmage.”
Volk said Central Michigan’s big defensive line is going to be hard to push around – starting tackles Leterrius Walton and Kelby Latta both are listed at 300 pounds or more, and ends Jeremy Gainer and Louis Palmer are listed at 235 and 265, respectively.
“Something about Central Michigan is we haven’t won at Central Michigan since 2005,” Volk said. “We really want to go there and show what we can do. We have a chip on our shoulder to really want to push people around.”