DeKALB – Northern Illinois' backup quarterback competition is close.
Sophomore Matt McIntosh and redshirt freshman Drew Hare are neck and neck, with both taking reps with the second-team offense during fall camp, and NIU head coach Rod Carey isn't ready to say who will back up Jordan Lynch.
Carey will make a decision, but isn't sure exactly when the decision will be made.
"Nobody's really seperating themselves," he said. "They're both doing good. One hasn't taken it and run with it yet. They're both progressing. One isn't ahead of the other yet."
One thing is for sure, the situation behind Lynch is better than it was last season. McIntosh, who got playing time as a redshirt freshman, now has a year of practice reps and some game experience under his belt. Behind him, there was Hare and Matt Williams, a redshirt freshman who is now playing wide receiver.
Hare spent his first year on campus with the scout team, took his share of practice reps, and travelled with the team for a few games as well. In the spring, he performed well in both the spring game and Huskie Bowl.
The speed of the game started to slow down for Hare last year, as it would for any true freshman, and he got to go against the No. 21 scoring defense in the country.
"Some people get a little down about being on the scout team. I looked at it as a good thing," Hare said. "I got to go against our best corner (Rashaan Melvin), people that are in the NFL right now."
McIntosh was able to get into seven games last season, going 7 of 13 with 57 passing yards and a touchdown, and ran the ball 25 times for 92 yards and two scores.
"I haven't played since high school, on the field. It was nice getting some reps on the field," he said. "At the beginning I think I kind of struggled, but I think I picked up my game at the end (of the season) and I think I did really well at the end."
Carey said right now, he's looking at what both QBs are doing in camp. When it's time to make a decision, he'll take factors such as experience into the equation.
Two years ago, Lynch spelled starter Chandler Harnish at times and carried the ball 45 times.
Carey said he doesn't plan on using any sort of two-quarterback system this year.
Should he be forced to play another quarterback, he'll choose between two players who has better control of the offense now.
"There's a difference between understanding that and doing it. That gap is what you've got to close, and they're closing it, and not one of them has closed it quicker than the other," Carey said. "There's a good grasp, but doing is the part that we keep nudging them forward on."