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Feelin' Northeastern

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered the other day that The Doghouse, a Northeastern University sports blog, exists. And so, I fired off a few questions to one of it's co-writers, Patrick McHugh, and he provided a little context on the football program and what SU fans can expect this Saturday.

TNIAAM: I hope you don't take offense to this but I have to admit I was a little surprised to actually find a Northeastern sports blogger. What made you decide to create the blog?

DOGHOUSE: I’m glad you found me. The credit really belongs to Steven Roth, the co-writer on our website. Steven started a blog about our hockey team and I stumbled upon it one day and asked him if I could write too. Steven writes about the hockey team and I cover the basketball team and this year I just started covering football as well. I like blogging because it gives me a chance to practice writing (I am a journalism major) and get things posted so people can see. Steven and I are trying to get as many people interested in Northeastern sports as possible and this is a great way to do it.

TNIAAM: How big is Northeastern football on campus? What's a normal sized-crowd for home games?

DOGHOUSE: Sadly our football program gets little attention for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason football struggles to keep a big fan base is the location of our home field. We play our home games at Parsons Field which is in Brookline, MA about 1 ½ miles away from campus. The school offers shuttles and buses for students to get to the game but if you don’t catch one you probably aren’t going to go unless you take the T and then walk the rest of the way.

The field itself is no prize either. It’s tucked away in a small neighborhood and the field is designed for baseball rather than football. The field has bleachers instead of seats and at capacity can hold 7,000 people. Typical attendance though is in the 2,000-4,000 range if the weather is nice.

TNIAAM: Can you give us a brief recent history of the program and how it's done?

DOGHOUSE: Since Coach Hager has taken over the team has yet to be .500. Despite not winning many games the squad has been competitive. Part of the struggles has to do with the schedule. Our conference (the Colonial Athletic association) consistently gets 4 to 5 teams into the playoffs each year and is arguably the top FCS conference. We play some challenging non-conference games as well. In my opinion the team is not that bad but struggles to compete in the conference.

The one thing football is good for is pulling upsets every year. The last two years the team has upset four ranked opponents, so we have been pleasantly surprised in some games and I’m sure we’ll win some games that are unexpected this year as well.

TNIAAM: Which Husky players do we need to be concerned with most?

DOGHOUSE: Biggest weapon on the offense is tight end Brian Mandeville, #83. Brian is 6-7, 253 pounds and can do just about everything you need him to do. Not to speak too soon but I think he has a chance to play at the next level; he has all the physical tools. The Sporting News ranked him as the top "small-school" senior in the country so he’ll get some attention come April.

Quarterback Anthony Orio is not a spectacular passer but keeps the team in the game. He has good size and breaks a lot of tackles when he runs, but most of all he is a great game manager who rarely makes a mistake.

Running back
Alex Broomfield is only 5-7 but is a shifty scatback who catches the ball well, but tends to fumble sometimes, which is what cost us the game last week at Georgia Southern. Defensively Will Colon and Cord Parks are solid players at defensive end and cornerback respectively. The team is really hurt by not having defensive captain Craig Kenney out there, who is injured with a knee ailment.

TNIAAM: As you can probably tell, we're not very good. Is there any talk on the Northeastern side that this is a winnable game for you guys?

DOGHOUSE: I think had we not blown the game last week at Georgia Southern that would have given us a lot of confidence heading into this game. Of our first four non-conference game I look at this game as the most winnable next to the UC-Davis contest next week. The first win is always the toughest to get and because Syracuse is an FBS team it makes it difficult to imagine our first win comes in the Carrier Dome. Our team has so far proven to be better than we first expected so I guarantee you there is some optimism in the locker room. The challenge will be rebounding from the crushing loss last week.

TNIAAM: Can we expect a decent amount of Husky fans in the Dome on Saturday? Lord knows there will be seats available.

DOGHOUSE: Yes you can. There is a bus taking students and alumni to Syracuse Friday night and as you already know Kitty Hoynes has been so kind as to host the Husky crew before the game. There should be about 50 or so of us on the bus trip and I’m sure a few more parents and alumni who will make the trip themselves. I’ll be on the bus trip so I look forward to seeing the city of Syracuse and hopefully a competitive game.

TNIAAM: SU and Northeastern also have a bit of a recent basketball history. Does the b-ball program get a lot of love on campus?

DOGHOUSE: Basketball is surpassed only by the hockey team who always sells out their games. Expect big things from hoops though, we have a really strong team with the starting lineup returning and only one player lost to graduation. I’d be shocked if we don’t get to a postseason tournament. Official schedule hasn’t been released yet but we’ll have plenty of chances to pull some big upsets this year. There is definitely a buzz on campus right now about b-ball.

TNIAAM: Gun to your head, the final score on Saturday will be...

DOGHOUSE: Syracuse 31, Northeastern 20. I see both offenses moving the ball well but in the end Syracuse has more talent than NU. You can’t overlook the fact the game is in the Dome too. I don’t believe our school has played any games indoors, certainly not in the past five years. I’m sure Syracuse faithful will see this game as an easy win and it may be, but it will be competitive for at least a half, maybe even three quarters.

Keep an eye on The Doghouse for the next few days as you prepare for the possibility of Northeastern football players dancing on our graves. Thanks, Patrick, and good luck.