DeKALB – Quarterback Chandler Harnish (right knee injury) practiced Sunday and Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill said at his weekly news conference that the injured quarterback would be limited to certain drills at Monday’s practice.
“He took I don’t know many exact plays but we basically inserted him in and were careful with his reps because I didn’t want the knee to swell up a bunch,” Kill said.
The question on whether or not Harnish starts or even plays won’t be decided until later in the week, depending on how Harnish practices up until Thursday’s 5 p.m. game against Ball State. Kill did say that Harnish told him his knee felt good Monday morning and that Harnish did not look rusty at Sunday’s practice.
“There are a lot of things that can happen between now and Thursday night that could change my mind,” Kill said. “As a head coach you’ve always got the right to do that I guess. It’s a wait-and-see situation. I’m not going to play anybody that’s coming off a knee, something of that type of injury, it’s not like coming off a broken finger or the flu or something like that. It’s a different deal.
“I’m going to have to feel real comfortable for me to just put him right back out there.”
Harnish does not have to wear a brace while moving around.
“With his situation, not having a ligament tear, it’s more of a meniscus situation, not having a ligament tear he doesn’t have to wear a brace,” Kill said.
So how did Harnish look at Sunday’s practice?
“He looked like Chandler,” said left guard Jason Onyebuagu. “You couldn’t really definitely tell that it was bothering him. If it was he did a good job disguising it. He threw the ball well. He ran well. It was nice to see him back out there.”
Players of the Week: Running back Chad Spann was named the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week after carrying the ball 11 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns in NIU’s 50-6 win over Eastern Michigan.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Spann said. “That’s two weeks in a row, they tell me. It’s definitely nice but it’s an award that doesn’t really tell the true story. The offensive line has been playing tremendously. The wide receivers have been doing a great job. If I could give it, it would go to the whole offense and not just me.”
Also, linebacker Cory Hanson was named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week after recording nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Thinking back: It was last season when NIU traveled to then-unbeaten Ball State and lost, 45-14, on Nov. 5, 2008, a fact not lost on linebacker John Tranchitella.
“I think some of the guys are still a little bitter about last year,” Tranchitella said. “At the same time, we’re looking at it as another game and another step to getting to the MAC championship.”
Quotable: “It definitely came quick. Somebody reminded me it was senior night, and I finally realized it was my last home game at Huskie Stadium. It has been fun and a journey.” - Onyebuagu.
Quotable II: “It’s not like [kicker Mike] Salerno spraining an ankle. I’m carrying a little more weight.” - Onyebuagu again, this time about his high ankle sprain that hasn’t kept him out of games but has forced him to wear a walking boot away from the field. Onyebuagu is listed at 307 pounds to Salerno’s 170.