DeKALB – All spring, Northern Illinois football coach Rod Carey has mentioned how each of his three quarterbacks has taken strides in improvement.
However, Carey said the trio of Drew Hare, Matt McIntosh and Anthony Maddie regressed at Saturday's Huskie Bowl.
"Really happy defensively. Really upset offensively," Carey said. "I thought the quarterbacks took a major step back today. And that's the first time that's happened all spring. They have been unbelievable as a group. They've gotten so much better, but today they regressed."
During the scrimmage portion of Saturday's final spring workout, none of the quarterbacks was able to move the ball consistently. Matt McIntosh threw a long touchdown pass to Juwan Brescacin, but also had a pass picked off by Ladell Fleming that was returned for a score.
"Obviously, I threw an interception today – that's unacceptable," McIntosh said. "As a quarterback, you can't turnover the ball. Juwan got a good ball, roommate-to-roommate kind of deal, so that was nice. I think the whole offense was just a little sluggish today. We just need to get better."
The Huskie Bowl's format was tweaked earlier in the week because of the amount of injuries the team suffered. Originally, the plan was for drafted Cardinal and Black teams to play against each other. Instead, the offense (Black) went against the defense (Cardinal) in a number of drills and the scrimmage, where each side was able to earn points. The Cardinal team won the Huskie Bowl, 72-37.
The scrimmage portion of the day was shortened and there was no tackling, but Carey gave the offense a few extra series to get the unit going.
Carey just didn't feel the tempo was there with the quarterbacks, calling it "terrible."
"I'm not talking about snapping the ball every four seconds, that's overrated," Carey said. "I'm talking about their tempo, how they get the play going. That wasn't good."
NIU's quarterback battle will continue throughout fall camp, and it is possible Carey won't name a starter until the Huskies' season opener Aug. 28 against FCS Presbyterian.
Each quarterback took time taking reps with the first team this spring. Each is farther along than they were than when spring practice began March 18, but they didn't close out the spring like they wanted.
"Offense, I think we could have obviously played better," Hare said. "We're going to have our days. Defense, you've got to give them credit, they did well and we've got to pick it up. It was nice, I feel like we've done really well all spring, except for today."