Northern Illinois Football Preview: Experienced Defense Will Be Key To Success

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Jimmie Ward #15 of the Northern Illinois Huskies intercepts a Tyler Tettleton #4 of the Ohio Bobcats pass in the fourth quarter of the MAC Championship game at Ford Field on December 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Huskies defeated the Bobcats 23-20. (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)

SB Nation's Bill Connelly previews Northern Illinois football, noting an increased focus on defense.

In 2011, the Northern Illinois Huskies depended on an experienced offense led by senior quarterback Chandler Harnish to win the MAC title. This year, it'll be the defense that needs to shoulder the load now that Harnish and many of his fellow offensive players have graduated, leaving major turnover on that side of the ball.

As SB Nation's Bill Connelly notes in his 2012 season preview, head coach Dave Doeren will be working with a very different team this year:

NIU won the MAC last year with eight returning offensive starters and just two returning defensive starters. This year, the onus turns around -- NIU returns eight starters on defense but just three on offense. The talent is exciting, but after toeing a rather thin line on the way to last year's MAC title, NIU will find an even thinner line this time around.

Without Harnish, the Huskies are turning the keys to the offense over to junior Jordan Lynch, a Chicago native that put up impressive numbers in mop-up duty last season. One can't doubt that his performance is key to the Huskies' success this year, but he'll be challenged with so many moving pieces in his offensive unit.

Now, it appears that fans will be treated to a Northern Illinois team that's geared a bit more towards defense. In 2011, the Huskies were No. 12 nationally in scoring offense and No. 85 nationally in scoring defense, but it's hard to imagine a remotely similar performance in 2012.

For Connelly's full preview, check it out here.

For updates on Northern Illinois football, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For all your college football needs, visit SB Nation's NCAA football news hub.

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