Northern Illinois completed a quick 90-minute practice on Friday. The practice was shortened while Saturday's was moved up 20 minutes. Saturday, the Huskies will scrimmage and officials will be on hand to give it a game-like atmosphere.
"I'd like to see us protect the ball offensively," NIU coach Dave Doeren said when asked about the scrimmage. "Assignments, I'd like to see that get cleaner. That's one thing you worry about when you get into live play sometimes, fundamentals are gone because they're worried about the finish and they forget about the little details sometimes.
"I just want to see guys compete like it's a game."
Doeren said about 50 percent of the offense and defense have been installed so far. Defensively, he said they've kept things vanilla and a lot more of the offensive install will come next week.
One of the big goals Doeren said he wanted to see his team accomplish this spring was to think less while executing plays and play smoother. So far, he said he's seen that.
"You're seeing a lot less mistakes and a lot of the mistakes we're making right now are easily cleaned up," Doeren said. "It's not trying to remember what the defense or the offense is. It's just little things that will come."
Not too many observations from the shorter practice. Wide receiver Perez Ashford made one of the best catches of the spring on a diving one-hander while he was covered in 7-on-7 drills.
Linebacker Boomer Mays drew several cheers from teammates after a couple of big stops. Defensive end Daniel Green had an impressive tip of a Matt McIntosh pass. With a scrimmage set for Saturday, expect the observations portion of that blog to be lengthy.
– John Sahly, firstname.lastname@example.org, @JSahly on Twitter.