Sep 15, 2012; West Point, NY, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Trent Steelman (8) is wrapped up by Northern Illinois Huskies defensive back Jimmie Ward (15) at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-US PRESSWIRE

Nine Starters Return for Northern Illinois's Defense


The Northern Illinois Huskies return nine key players on the defensive side of things. The group gained experience last season after a rough start to the season.

Defensive backs Jimmie Ward, Rashaan Melvin, Jhony Faustin, Dechene Durante and Demetrius Stone made 27 pass break-ups last season, and made 10 interceptions on the year.

The team returns a couple of linebackers who are ball hawks in Tyrone Clark, and Devone Butler who both missed last season. Clark was suspended, and Butler was out with an injury. The defensive line is the weak point of the teams roster as they lack experience.

Ward leads the Huskies so far in tackles with 33 on the season. He is also the only Husky with an interception. Clark is next with 31 tackles including four for loss. Leading the club in tackles for loss is defensive end Alan Baxter with five, and 16 tackles.

Last week’s game against Army made the Northern Illinois defense look silly as the Cadets rounded up 494 total yards, with 486 of these on the ground. Three Cadet running backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the game. Kansas has a trio of solid backs as well who could give this unit some trouble in James Sims, Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox.

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Tags: Football Kansas Jayhawks Northern Illinois