Getting ready to face the triple option is tough enough. But there's still a challenge of getting back to normalcy after a week of preparing for a team like Army.
Last season, when Northern Illinois opened with the Black Knights, the Huskies spent a lot time in camp preparing for Army's attack, and NIU coach Dave Doeren felt the team's substitution packages and third-down defense were behind going into the following game.
Doeren and his staff talked about how to prevent that from happening again. Sunday, the team spent some time at Huskie Stadium walking through the base defenses and third-down packages.
"Just kind of polishing things back up and getting that option stuff out of their minds. It is a challenge," Doeren said during Monday's Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference. "You go from, at corner and safety, I told the guys last week we need to put everybody in neck rolls. Because that's basically what everybody's doing is shedding blocks and tackling, and now you're back into being an athlete in space."
During Saturday's win, Doeren thought his defense tackled poorly in the first half. He said the coaching staff made a lot of adjustments throughout the game, and liked the defense's play in the fourth quarter.
"That was the key. I think when you play a team like that, especially early in the year, you're just not sure of all the changes they've made offensively," Doeren said. "They did change some of their blocking schemes. That took us awhile to catch up to it."
Huskies looking to beat Jayhawks, not themselves: Kansas hasn't been very impressive so far this season. The Jayhawks are 1-2, with their only victory coming against South Dakota St., a Football Championship Subdivision team.
Kansas is led by first-year head coach in Charlie Weis, the former Notre Dame head coach who was much-maligned in South Bend. The Jayhawks have forced 12 turnovers, which is good for the top spot in FBS, along with Alabama and Mississippi State.
Doeren thinks Kansas is an improved team from last season, when the Jayhawks were just 2-10. One of those victories was the 45-42 win over NIU in Lawrence, where Doeren said his team beat itself.
"A lot of times when you lose a football game, the team that you're playing beats you," he said. "It's really tough when you beat yourself, and I felt like we beat ourselves in that game last year."
Lynch earns MAC honor: NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch was named MAC West Offensive Player of the Week after he passed for 342 yards and four touchdowns in West Point. He also ran for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Doeren said his quarterback continues to get better each game.
"They packed it in and played man-to-man and pressed our guys up, and when [defenses] do that you're going to have to be able to throw the football to open up the run game," Doeren said. "And Jordan was able to make it happen, and he's just continued to each game get better at little things."
Bobcats, Herd enjoying renewed rivalry: One of the casualties of conference realignment has been the disappearance of rivalry games.
Texas and Texas A&M won't be playing the Lone Star Showdown with the Aggies move to the Southeastern Conference. The Holy War between BYU and Utah isn't scheduled to take place in 2014 and 2015. There are no future contests scheduled for the Border War between Kansas and Missouri with the Tigers now in the SEC.
When Marshall left the MAC following the 2004 season, the Thundering Herd's Battle for the Bell game with Ohio disappeared as well. The contest, which features the two schools that are roughly 80 miles apart, was brought back in 2010. Saturday, Ohio beat Marshall, 27-24, to improve to 3-0.
"It's a huge rivalry for both teams. I picked up on it when we started to play Marshall, they're not in our conference," Bobcats coach Frank Solich said. "It became clear to me that it's a strong rivalry. It means a great deal to the coaches, the players, the people in both communities."
– Steve Nitz, email@example.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter