Sunday, December 28, 2008

Independence Bowl: Northern Ill. vs. La. Tech


December 28 * 8:15 PM * ESPN

The 6-6 Huskies rebounded from a dismal 2007 campaign and they did so mainly by running the ball and playing tough defense. Quarterback Chandler Harnish and running backs Meco Brown and Chad Spann combined for 14 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards rushing this season. When the Huskies do throw, Marcus Perez, Matt Simon and Reed Cunningham will all play a role. However, don't expect an aerial assault from the Huskies – the ground game is what makes the offense go. The defense, which ranks fifth in the nation against the pass, is led by Larry English, who leads the team in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (13.5). Like the Huskies, the 7-5 Bulldogs live by the running game. Running backs Daniel Porter and Patrick Jackson and all-around threat Phillip Livas have combined for over 2,000 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns in 2008. Quarterback Ross Jenkins won't be asked to carry the offense but he has a home run threat at receiver in Livas, who led the WAC in punt return average and all-purpose yardage, as well as Jackson who is a threat coming out of the backfield as a receiver. The defense led by defensive lineman D'Anthony Smith and leading tackler, defensive back Antonio Baker, is tough to run on but struggles defending the pass.

Inside the Numbers – Pass, Run & Catch

Northern Illinois Huskies (6-6, 5-3)

Pass: Chandler Harnish – 1,342 yards, 7 TDs
Run: Me’co Brown – 508 yards, 2 TDs
Catch: Marcus Perez – 50-755-3 TDs

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5, 5-3)
Pass: Ross Jenkins – 1,011 yards, 7 TDs
Run: Daniel Porter – 1,086 yards, 8 TDs
Catch: Phillip Livas – 32-436-2 TDs