Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish has been efficient and accurate on the field this season for the Huskies.
After Tuesday's practice at Huskie Stadium, the Daily Chronicle's John Sahly caught up with Harnish to talk about his season and Saturday's home game against Western Michigan.
Coach [Jerry] Kill said that if you would have had one more possession Saturday [against Idaho], there's no doubt you would have scored. What do you think? Yeah, I feel like we definitely would have went out and scored. We definitely had the momentum. You've got to give them credit, though, they went down and hung onto the ball and made huge plays, especially that third-and-3, that fade route. That was a big play by that quarterback and the receiver. They deserve credit for that.
What did you see on film out of your performance? To tell you the truth, statistically, it was probably one of my best games this year. I completed some passes and limited the turnovers. But I missed a couple of plays. That was one thing. I played solid but there were some opportunities that we missed out on and if I would have done that our offense would have been in better rhythm. We've just got to execute a little better and I think we'll be just fine.
Your completion percentage has been hovering around 65 percent. It's been there most of the year. Is that what you expected? Yeah, I expected to have a big improvement from last year. Sixty-five is OK but I'd rather be at 75. [Texas quarterback] Colt McCoy was at 79 [percent] last year and close to 80. He's still in the 70s. I strive to be a perfect quarterback. We strive to be perfect every day. We know we're not going to get there. But if we can strive for that, that's going to make us better.
What's the biggest difference in your accuracy this year. How has it improved?
I've got to give the credit to [quarterbacks] coach [Pat] Poore. He's done a good job of preparing me and teaching me the technique of being a quarterback. Last year I felt like more of an athlete. This year I feel like I'm finally starting to evolve into that legit quarterback position. There's still a lot of room for improvement. I think I still need to work on our drop-back game. It's just learning to set your feet when you throw, keep your knees bent and see your throws and then confidence. If you have that confidence, it's so much easier.
Do you watch some of the other quarterbacks on film or even in the game? I really like to watch Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan. I watch [Florida quarterback] Tim Tebow. And then I like to watch the Jevan Snead's (Mississippi), those guys that can really fling it, too. So it's good to watch those guys because you can tell they have a total knowledge of what they're doing as an offense and they play with real good tempo and they don't make mistakes. And then at the same time, they make big plays. So to be able to be aggressive and put up big numbers and not make those mistakes is huge. And that's something that, like I said, I strive to be like.
Do you pick up little things like technique or a certain read? Definitely. What they do really well is they have great poise in the pocket and they step up well. All of those guys that I mentioned, they throw the ball extremely well and they have confidence.
What does Western Michigan's defense look like?
They're good. They like to bring the pressure. That's nothing new. They play very similar coverages to what we saw last year. And it's going to be a good game. They're a good team. They've got a good quarterback (Tim Hiller). They've got a good linebacker in Austin Pritchard. He's their leader on that defense. I know those two guys, Hiller and Pritchard. They're good guys and they're going to come ready to play.
Is there any sense of urgency coming off a loss and this game being the Mid-American Conference opener? Sense of urgency, no. But this is a big game. For the future, looking at this game alone, it can really tell us what we're going to be like in the MAC West. You're going to have two teams that are going to be near the top. We feel like this is going to be a great test for us and get us ready for MAC play.