Created:Monday, November 5, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT
Updated:Monday, November 5, 2012 7:47 a.m.CDT

Backup QB McIntosh releases nerves

Northern Illinois quarterback Matt McIntosh carries the ball for a 15-yard gain during the third quarter Saturday in DeKalb. NIU defeated Massachusetts, 63-0. (Rob Winner —

DeKALB – The hit that knocked Matt McIntosh to the ground shortly after he released his first pass completion in Saturday’s 63-0 win over Massachusetts actually felt good, the redshirt freshman claimed after the game.

The hit jostled the nerves out of him, the backup quarterback professed, after throwing just six passes all year and playing mostly during garbage minutes.

“Getting in the game, getting the nerves out just kind of feels good,” McIntosh said. “After that, they don’t feel the same.”

When the Huskies left the locker room at the end of half time, leading 35-0, McIntosh knew he’d see significant time if the Huskies scored on their first drive of the half.

That scenario played out, and McIntosh was able to run the Huskies offense, not just the late-game conservative game-plan he’s been relegated to throughout the season.

He was able to receive real feedback from starting quarterback Jordan Lynch, now the national leader in total offense and rushing.

“I look forward to the days like these,” McIntosh said. “It’s huge. I go up to Jordan after every series and he does a great job of mentoring me.”

On his first drive, McIntosh completed one pass to A.J. Sebastiano for 34 yards and ran three times for 17 yards, including a one-yard touchdown, the first of his career.

After the Huskies recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, McIntosh threw the first passing touchdown of his career to Sebastiano before rushing for another to close out the scoring. On the day, he completed four of six passes for 43 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven rushing attempts.

Lynch knows what it’s like to back up a standout quarterback after playing only in small spurts over the last two years in relief of Chandler Harnish. He knows how beneficial it is for McIntosh to play every once in a while over an extended period of time.

“I was in that position last year, and it feels good just to get that whole half to yourself,” Lynch said. “Matt’s always out there every day, he’s getting a lot of reps in practice, and I thought he did a heck of a job today.”

McIntosh only began seeing significant snaps in practice during the spring, when he underwent a slow development.

On Saturday, he showed that he’s become a viable college quarterback.

“He’s light years from the spring,” coach Dave Doeren said. “He’s confident now, he’s finishing runs, he’s trying to live up to what Jordan is doing and be physical as a runner, making good decisions, protecting the ball … He threw the ball well and did a good job of giving us a chance to march down the field.”

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