Created:Thursday, August 19, 2010 11:15 p.m.CDT
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NIU Notes: Quarterback derby tough to call

By JEREMY WERNER - jwerner@daily-chronicle.com

DeKALB – The question comes almost every day now for NIU coach Jerry Kill. And, no, as of Thursday, he hasn’t decided who will be the Huskies starting quarterback.

“I’m not worried about that right now, to be honest with you,” Kill said. “I got a lot of other concerns besides quarterback. That’s the least of my concerns right now.”

Juniors DeMarcus Grady and Chandler Harnish are competing for the job, and redshirt freshman Jordan Lynch also has had an impressive camp. Junior college transfer Casey Weston and redshirt freshman A.J. Hill have taken reps with the Huskies younger squads, made mostly of freshmen and redshirt freshmen.

Grady has made Kill’s decision more difficult by gaining ground during the spring as Harnish, the starter the last two seasons, recovered from a knee injury.

“It’d be bad if you had three bad quarterbacks and you had to make a decision,” Kill said. “We’re fortunate we have good quarterbacks and have to make a decision. I’m blessed with that.”

Harnish has more experience, even though Grady is 5-0 as a starter and has played with the first-string offense through training camp. But the NIU coach will consider several attributes when picking a stater, which could come late next week or just days before the Sept. 2 opener at Iowa State, Kill said.

“We’ve evaluated every film, we know every pass they’ve made, every interception they’ve made, every mental breakdown they’ve made,” he said. “You consider health, gametime and experience, who you feel like can lead your team to win.”

Adding a dimension: Whoever starts at quarterback could have an improved weapon in the offense. Senior fullback Kyle Skarb led all receivers during Thursday’s scrimmage with three catches for 57 yards.

Skarb, who had 11 catches for 189 yards last season, said the Huskies plan to use the fullbacks more in the pass attack this season.

“It’s going to open up a lot of things,” Skarb said. “Usually when the fullback’s in, it’s run, run, run. Now, we’re kind of two-dimensional.”

Kiel coming back: Kill said offensive tackle Adam Kiel likely will practice Tuesday after missing most of training camp with an unspecified injury. Kiel was hurt in one of the first practices of camp.

Kiel started the first 11 regular-season games at right tackle last season but missed the final two games of the season, including the International Bowl, due to a foot injury which required surgery. Junior Keith Otis has practiced at right tackle with the first string through the spring and training camp.

Will the NIU football team play for the MAC title this year?
Yes
No
Too soon to tell