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College football: Northern Illinois pass rush the cream of the MAC crop

Oh, what a rush

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 12:57 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner/Shaw Media)
Northern Illinois defensive ends Joe Windsor (right) and Alan Baxter sack Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist during the fourth quarter of the Huskies' 30-23 victory last Saturday in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Every once in a while, Northern Illinois defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen will simply stick his head into the film room on a Sunday or Monday, taking a little break from game planning.

When Nielsen peeks in, he usually sees one of his defensive linemen – guys like Sean Progar, Nabal Jefferson, Alan Baxter or Joe Windsor, to name a few – either studying themselves or their upcoming opponent. This week, it’s a Central Michigan team fresh off a 32-31 victory over Iowa.

Nielsen stresses film study, and it could be a main reason his defensive line currently ranks second in the Mid-American Conference with 13 sacks.

“Every time I’m in there, Joe’s in there. Sean. Alan’s done a good job, Nabal,” Nielsen said. “Pretty much the whole group. They come in on their own.”

One player who has watched more film while working under Nielsen is Windsor, the Huskies’ 6-foot, 236-pound junior defensive end. Windsor has not only watched tape more, but has learned how to watch film.

It’s not just simply going into the room, picking up the remote control and watching the previous week’s game.

When he’s watching with the rest of the group, or by himself, Windsor’s picking up keys to his game, learning how he can use his speed.

Windsor has four sacks in as many games, putting him third in the MAC. Baxter leads the conference with five.

Windsor sees roughly 30 snaps a game, predominantly in pass-rush situations. He admits he might not be the strongest guy on the field, but learning to beat offensive tackles with his good speed is one thing Windsor’s picked up in the film room.

Last game: Won 32-31 at Iowa

Last meeting: Oct. 1, 2011— Central Michigan 48, NIU 41

Key offensive players: Zurlon Tipton, Jr., RB; Ryan Radcliff, Sr., QB; Titus Davis, So., WR; Cody Wilson, Sr., WR.

Key defensive players: Justin Cherocci, So., LB; Jason Wilson, So. CB; Joe Kinville, Sr. DE; Jahleel Addae, Sr. S.

Notes: Tipton is averaging over 100 yards per game and seven yards per carry for a Central Michigan offesne that ranks ninth in the Mid-American Conference in scoring offense. Defensively, the Chippewas have been doing a lot more blitzing. Doeren’s take: “They’ve changed a lot. Their scheme on defense is totally different than last year. Our guys will have to do a good job making those adjustments on the offensive side of the ball.” Key stat: Central Michigan is averaging just 1.33 penalties per game, a total good for third in the nation.

— Steve Nitz,

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