Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish's status remains questionable for Saturday's game against Akron, but NIU coach Jerry Kill said at today's news conference that Harnish's injured right knee could heal up in time for him to play Saturday.
Harnish will be reevaluated on Wednesday, although the decision on whether he'll play or not likely will remain under wraps until Saturday morning.
Kill also revealed that Harnish had surgery on the knee this past Tuesday.
"It's not a major thing that's going to keep him out for the rest of the year," Kill said. "He'll be back. It's just something that we'll have to see. Optimistically, I was told that there's a chance that he could play this weekend. But we'll just have to see how it comes along."
How Harnish practices – he did some throwing and light backpedaling before NIU's 27-22 win at Miami (Ohio) this past Saturday – will determine his status for the Akron game.
"I'm old-school," Kill said. "You've got to be able to practice and show me you can move around and do all of those things before we're going to play you. We'll just have to see."
If Harnish cannot go, DeMarcus Grady will again get the start.
While Harnish's return is questionable, Kill said safety David Bryant will be out 2-4 weeks with a knee injury. Bryant suffered the injury in the first quarter against Miami.
"He doesn't have to have surgery on his knee but you're probably looking at anywhere from 2-4 weeks from what I was told," Kill said.
With Bryant out, there will be a few changes to the secondary, and we'll have much more on that in Wednesday's Daily Chronicle and right here on HuskieWire.com.
Finally, nose guard Brian Lawson's injured hand is in a cast and while he'll be evaluated every week, Kill wasn't optimistic that Lawson would return before the season ends. Safety Garrett Barnas got dinged up in the Miami game but will be fine for this week.
Here are some more highlights from Kill's news conference:
On Grady and Ryan Morris:
"We could use Ryan Morris in some situations. We talked to Ryan about that before the game on Saturday, but it's no different than when we used DeMarcus sometimes when Chandler was playing to take a little bit of a load off of him."
On the carries for running backs Chad Spann and Me'co Brown:
"Any time you play two running backs like we do, there will be outings where one is going to get yards and the other one may not. There have been outings where Me'co has had 130 or 140 and Chad hasn't gotten as many. The way it works out is Chad might have had a seam in there that Me'co didn't. That happens. As long as we're able to run the ball, it doesn't really matter."
On getting out of Miami with a win:
"Going to Miami, just getting the win, just getting out of there, we know more about what we need to do to prepare for this particular week, knowing, going into the game a little bit more about DeMarcus and some of the things he brings to the table. I think we were just trying to find a way to win, which we did."
On Akron's defense:
"Defensively, they're an eight-man front that will also get into some 50 and zone-dog you and very similar to the last couple of teams we've played as far as what they do and how they approach it. Very aggressive. Very similar, defensively, to what we saw at Miami, maybe some subtle differences but fairly the same."
On the possibility of pulling redshirts off freshmen at this point of the season:
"We traveled Jordan Lynch last week, our quarterback. You don't want to do that if you don't have to. We're trying to get the numbers back up in the program in certain classes and I just don't want to pull all the redshirts off the kids if we don't have to."
On the MAC West standings (NIU is a game behind Central Michigan in the loss column):
"I don't really pay attention too much to that to be honest with you. We have to concentrate. We have to get a whole lot better before we even think about that. There are things in our game that we must improve. We take a couple steps forward in some things and then we step back on others. The biggest thing we have to do is get healthy and take it one game at a time. The rest of that will take care of itself."
On his team handling the grind of the season:
"I'd say we're up and down in the grind. I think we're handling it average. That's something that's going to be a good test these next two weeks and we need to step it up a little bit. You can always tell when it comes to checking classes, breakfasts and who is late. Yellow shirts become more productive and things of that nature. That's the only way you can teach them. And it's not easy. It's not easy. Certainly for a freshman it's really tough. That's just part of it and it's something we have to build upon."
On NIU playing Akron for the first time since losing, 31-30, in the 2005 MAC Championship game:
"I wasn't here either. We haven't talked a lot about it. I'm still trying to figure out the [conference] scheduling and how it works. We haven't really talked much about it."
Come back later tonight for a few video clips from today's news conference.