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Huskies think big as Doeren takes over

Dave Doeren, a 16-year assistant coach, is fortunate that Northern Illinois isn’t requiring him to start his head-coaching career rebuilding the Huskies’ football team.

“The cupboard is full,’’ athletic director Jeff Compher said Tuesday when he introduced Doeren to the media at Ditka’s restaurant. “Most of our players from last year’s great team are returning. I’m sure that’s one reason why he accepted the job.”

Quarterback Chandler Harnish returns, as do the team’s top receivers and its league-leading offensive line. This past season, NIU won a school-record 11 games, finished 8-0 atop the Mid-American Conference and won the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl by beating Fresno State 40-17.

Former head coach Jerry Kill took 11 of his 12 assistants with him to his new job at Minnesota. Linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz is the only returning aide.

“Coach Kill’s staff did a real good job, and I’ve inherited a very experienced team,” Doeren said. “The offense has a lot more players returning than the defense. But they’ve redshirted a lot of recruits. I saw their bowl game, and I was extremely impressed with how they performed.’’

Doeren, who has been an assistant at five major colleges, was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator the last five years, during which the Badgers were 49-15.

“You’re going to see a team that’s physical, that executes, plays smart and hard and takes pride in outworking opponents for four quarters,” Doeren said.

“I’m especially excited about having the starting quarterback to return, along with the offen-sive line that protected him. Chandler is a tremendous young man who is already ready to go to work. I’m looking forward to coaching him.”

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