DeKALB – Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish practiced again on Tuesday at Huskie Stadium, his third straight practice after being cleared by the team trainers to return after suffering a knee injury against Toledo on Oct. 17.
Huskies coach Jerry Kill said Harnish will be a game-time decision for Thursday’s 5 p.m. home game against Ball State.
“I’ve got a lot of time to decide. I’ve got two days yet,” Kill said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re going to do a little bit more than we usually do today, which we did last week. I’ll do what’s in the best interest for Chandler Harnish and our football team, but more so the best interest of Chandler. If he is not ready to play, in my opinion, he will not play. If he’s ready to play, we’ll play him.”
If Harnish is unable to start or even play, DeMarcus Grady will get his fourth straight start in relief of Harnish. Grady has performed admirably, going 3-0 and throwing for 241 yards while rushing for 268.
“The way we do things, what we do, your quarterback better be 100 percent because if he’s 70 or 80, he’s only going to be able to play in certain situations,” Kill said. “We’ll be careful. If we were going [Tuesday], [Harnish] would have the opportunity to play if coach Kill and [trainer] Kammy [Powell] clear him to play.”
Kill said that Harnish was sore during Monday’s practice and because of his class schedule, was unable to spend the same amount of time in the training room as he did Sunday and Tuesday.
Kill believes that Harnish will be able to have the necessary amount of time with the training staff on Thursday.
“When he can stay in the training room for 4-5 hours and get everything done,” Kill said, “he can come out here and he’s in pretty good shape... [Powell] is a tremendous trainer because there aren’t very many trainers that are rehab specialists plus being a trainer. And then you throw [Eric] Klein in there with what he does with them. He’s pretty amazing.”
Clearing up: Running back Chad Spann talked after practice about his comments from Monday’s news conference about the running back rotations and some of the perceptions they may have created.
Spann made it clear that he does not decide playing time at running back.
“This (running back rotations) has been asked a couple of times and yesterday I guess it just came out wrong,” Spann said. “Usually we just trade off every series and if coach [Kill] wants somebody specifically he’ll tell that person that ‘I want you to go in right now.’ That’s how we roll and it’s been like that all season.
“It’s us switching every drive to an extent but when coach wants somebody he’s going to tell us. I saw that yesterday and thought ‘Man, I really didn’t mean it like that.’ “
Ashford doubtful: Freshman wide receiver Perez Ashford is doubtful for Thursday’s game with a high ankle sprain.