Friday morning practice notes

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Northern Illinois completed its 14th preseason practice Friday morning, working out in shoulder pads and helmets.

The Huskies had another practice Friday afternoon, and Saturday the team will hold a scrimmage at 3:15 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.

After the morning session I caught up with defensive coordinator Jay Niemann to get some of his thoughts on how his defense has looked so far in camp and what he wants to see from his unit Saturday.

The main thing Niemann wants to see during the scrimmage is his guys not giving up big plays. He said there have been more big plays than he's liked so far in camp, but the group is still better than they were a year ago.

"It's something that characterizes a good defense, when you don't give up those big plays," Niemann said. "So, hopefully tomorrow afternoon when we come out, we make the offense earn what they get."

Niemann also said there won't be too many more wrinkles added to the defense. Now, the focus will be more geared towards game plannning.

"The bulk of the package is in," Niemann said. "Now we just look for them to execute better and better every day."

Here are a few more notes and observations from Friday morning's practice:

• There were a couple of changes to the first-team offensive line. Sophomore Tyler Loos took Ryan Brown's spot at left tackle, while redshirt freshman Andrew Ness moved from guard to center, taking Michael Gegner's position. Redshirt freshman Matthew Killian took over for Ness at guard.

• Jordan Lynch had a nice touchdown run of 50-plus yards.

• Be sure to check out our video with running back Leighton Settle following Friday morning's practice.

• I'm really looking forward to watching the team scrimmage Saturday when there's actual tackling and I'm interested to see how the running backs look. NIU will bring in referees for the scrimmage.

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