Editor's Note: Leading up to the start of Northern Illinois spring football practice on March 22, the Daily Chronicle will be presenting readers with stories on each of the new assistant coaches. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the Daily Chronicle to clip out our special card of each assistant.
NAME: Rod Carey
POSITION: Northern Illinois offensive line coach
RECRUITING AREA: Wisconsin and Minnesota, also in charge of walk-on program
DeKALB – Only a season ago, Rod Carey got a view of Northern Illinois' football program from the other sideline.
Carey was North Dakota's offensive line coach when the Fighting Sioux traveled to DeKalb to play the Huskies on Sept. 11. North Dakota kept it close, losing 23-17 for NIU's first win last season. Carey left Huskie Stadium knowing the different in the game was at the line of scrimmage.
"I think they ran for 350 (yards) or something on us. Yeah, they were good," Carey said. "We were a pretty good defense, too, for the (Division) I-AA level, and they just kind of got after us. Coming away from the game, I thought 'Wow.' ... I had no idea I'd be coaching them now."
The official number was 364 yards, and the bludgeoning left a strong impression on Carey. Now the offensive line coach at NIU, Carey knows he's inheriting one of the program's strengths. The key, he said, is maintaining consistency with the unit.
"Usually when a new staff comes into a program, it's because the team didn't win a lot," Carey said. "Well, this is just the flip side, they won a lot. So you have to be delicate when you first get in because they've had success. You come in and you work with them and get to know them, and then you try to get in your little tweaks and your little changes."
Most of the coaches on NIU's staff came specifically to work for Dave Doeren. The first time Carey met Doeren was at the job interview. Carey is just as excited – if not more – to be on offensive coordinator Matt Canada's staff, who he calls a lifetime friends.
The two attended Indiana University together.
"I've known him a long, long time," Canada said. "We've always talked about working together. So it's exciting to be on the same staff."
Carey may be impressed with his new offensive line, but he's still going to try to make them better. He said one area needs immediate improvement.
"We've got to get depth," Carey said. "We're losing five guys this year, so those young guys have to step up. And it's hard, because the young guys see that we have five guys playing right now. So they may think, 'Well I might not play. I might not beat out this senior.' Well yeah, you're probably right, but next year at this time you're the guy."
If the young guys doubt, they just have to ask Carey. He knows how much can change in a year.