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Halftime Notes: Northwestern 0, NIU 0

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Northwestern and Northern Illinois are tied 0-0 at halftime. Here are some quick notes from the first 30 minutes.

David Banks

- This has been an ugly game of football. No two ways about it.

- Northwestern should be trailing at the half, but NIU missed a 25-yard field goal wide right... yes, a 25-yarder.

- The biggest problem with the offense at the moment is Siemian's decision making and pre-snap reads. Some of this could have to do with the playcalling, and plays not developing quick enough, but his failure to read defenses is one of the main reasons there seems to always be pressure on him. It's also a reason Northwestern seemingly never gets anything easy on offense.

- That being said, Siemian has certainly hung in the pocket and delivered some nice throws. Two were big 3rd-down completions to Dan Vitale and Miles Shuler, but another one...

- Siemian's best throw of the half was a deep ball to Miles Shuler who had a step on his defender. But Shuler inexplicably let it slip through his hands. It would've been a sure touchdown.

- On an earlier Siemian deep ball to Cameron Dickerson, an NIU defensive back made an incredible interception.

- The offensive line started fairly strong, but has regressed throughout the half. Especially in the second quarter, there was hardly any push on run plays. However, a lot of the quarterback pressure has more to do with Siemian and slowly-developing plays than the line. (It could be NIU's coverage too)

- Justin Jackson is once again getting a lot of looks on offense, both in the backfield and as a receiver.

- On a couple of plays, it was the same old story on 3rd down for NU's defense. They rushed four, played soft coverage, and NIU beat them with a medium out route. But other than that, the defense played pretty well. They seemed better prepared than last week, and were never really on their heels.

- Coming into the season, we all thought NIU would be a much better team than Cal. But especially on the offensive side of the ball, we might have to rethink that. Matt McIntosh looked pretty uncomfortable in the first half, and was eventually benched in favor of Anthony Maddie, and QB play was a big reason the NIU offense was ineffective.

- Perhaps the biggest bright spot for Northwestern was special teams. Chris Gradone hit one very good first quarter punt, two decent ones, and all three were covered very well by the punt team. The one mishap was on Gradone's fourth punt, a line drive which could've been downed inside the NIU 1-yard line, but the player downing the ball, rather than just letting it settle on the 1-yard line, dove on it and rolled into the end zone. His 5th barely bounced in the end zone for a touchback.