Coming off a disappointing loss to Louisiana Tech in the 2008 Independence Bowl, the Huskies look to make significant improvements in the 2009 season. Second year head coach, Jerry Kill, helped turn around a 2-10 team in 2007 into a team that finished .500 in the regular season and made it to a bowl game. Now coach Kill has to get over the hump and win a bowl game at Northern Illinois.
The offense returns Chandler Harnish, who led the team in passing and rushing yards last season. Although he threw for over 1,500 yards, he also threw more interceptions then he did touchdowns which is something that Harnish will need to work on for the offense to be successful and put up points. Harnish will need to look to a group of inexperience receivers to get the ball to. Nathan Palmer should be the number one target, while freshman Ron Walker looks to make an immediate impact in the air.
Although, Harnish can get it done on the ground, the Huskies have plenty of speed in the backfield that could provide some balance to the offense. Me'co Brown, Chad Spann, and Ricky Crider should all see some decent time in the backfield. These guys will take some pressure off of Harnish and have him focus more on being consistent and completing a better percentage of his passes then running the ball.
The defense will look to its linebackers to carry the unit this season. Sophomore, Pat Schiller, will be the starter in the middle and will be accompanied by Alex Kube and Cory Hanson on the outside. Even though the guys up front have some work to do, backers in the middle should be able to hold their ground and make up for the lack of push up front.
The safeties are a lot stronger this year then the corners are. David Bryant and Mike Sobol return at safety and they will be the two leaders who carry the secondary. The secondary could be inconsistent this year with inexperience, lack of depth and having a true shut-down corner.
With Harnish still having to prove how good he is at quarterback and a lack of depth and experience on defense, I see the Huskies finishing .500 again this season.