To Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren, there are no moral victories. However, the Huskies' second year coach was still proud of his team' effort and defensive play in Saturday's 18-17 loss to Iowa at Soldier Field.
"Our guys played extremely well. We played hard. It was a clean football game on both sides. Took care of the football, there weren't a whole lot of penalties," Doeren said during Monday's Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference. "It was a very physical game. Really proud of the preparation and effort that our players and coaches put forth in the game.
"Any time you invest that much and come up short, obviously it's tough. Our guys here are very resilient and look forward to what's coming ahead."
A couple of other notes from the teleconference:
• Throughout the preseason, Doeren has said how much he likes playing at Soldier Field, and that he'd prefer the Huskies to host a contest there each season. Despite the fact the stadium was filled with mostly Iowa fans Saturday, Doeren liked the gameday atmosphere and didn't change his stance on wanting to play more games at the facility.
"Just a really good atmosphere for an opening football game. People at Soldier Field did such a great job working with us and our people," he said. "It's a place we'd love to make a home game possible every season if we had the opportunity.
• NIU's running backs only carried the ball 16 times Saturday. Doeren said quarterback Jordan Lynch had as many carries as he did (18), because NIU wanted to have another blocker against Iowa's front seven.
Doeren said he liked the play of Leighton Settle (33 yards on 10 carries) and Jamal Womble (5 yards on 3 carries). He said junior Akeem Daniels, who had just one rushing attempt, is more of a third-down back at this point. Doeren said he likes Daniels' blocking and pass-catching ability
• Lynch made the first start of his career against the Hawkeyes. He ran for a team-high 119 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run, but was just 6 of 16 passing for 54 yards. Doeren was happy with his quarterback's effort, and said there are aspects from the game Lynch will use to improve.
"He broke some tackles on third down to get us some first downs early in the game. I know there was a couple reads he wishes he could have had over," Doeren said. "He did throw a couple nice balls down the field to Martel (Moore). So I think it's a great game for him to learn and grow from.
"I think that's the most important thing from Game 1 is, you have a true assessment of where you're at as a football team and I know Jordan will take the information off of that film and try to improve from it."
• NIU defensive end Sean Progar was named MAC West Defensive Player of the Week Monday. Progar had four tackles and a sack against Iowa.
– Steve Nitz, email@example.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter