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BYU football preparing its offense for Northern Illinois

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) calls the play in the huddle as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO – The BYU football team enjoyed a successful offensive outing when it beat Hawaii 49-23 nearly two weeks ago even with true freshman Zach Wilson getting his first collegiate start.

Wilson knows the matchup with Northern Illinois Saturday could be a different ball game for him and the offense.

“I’m super excited to take on a real challenge. Hawaii’s a great team and I think that was a great starting game for me,” Wilson said. “I think Northern Illinois has a really good defensive front and they have a good defense overall. This will be a good challenge for us on how well we execute and how tough we are and the kind of team we really are.”

The Huskies are a top 40 college football team in total defense and surrender 23 points per game. It held the University of Utah’s offense to 17 points in a loss to the Utes. They have been known to stop the run as they are top 20 in total yards allowed on the ground.

They also force 2 turnovers per game and are a top 20 team in sacks per game. Northern Illinois has also had two weeks to prepare for the new look offense for the BYU football team.

“Our next opponent has seen a full game on him now. They’ll know more about who he is,” said quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick. “He might have caught Hawaii off-guard a little bit with his athleticism. Northern Illinois is going to know some of the things that he does well. He still has quite a bit of things left in his bag that haven’t been shown, so I think he’ll be fine.”

NIU’s head coach Rod Carey says Wilson did great in his first start and certainly brings different things to the table for the BYU offense.

“He’s a talented kid. He really moved them up and down the field (versus Hawaii),” Carey said. “The biggest thing you have to account for with him is, obviously he can throw the ball and he has a command of the offense or else he wouldn’t be in there, but his running ability is certainly something we have to account for.”

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said Wilson has done a great job of staying ready all season.

“His performance last week didn’t just happen because he prepared really hard last week,” said Grimes. “It’s because he’s been being prepared and getting himself ready for that the last eight months.”

The game will be played at Lavell Edwards Stadium with kick-off set for 1:30 P.M. MDT and will be televised on ESPNU.