Saturday's news and notes

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Northern Illinois completed a two-hour practice Saturday, most of which was a scrimmage filled with situational football.

It was tough to give an edge to either side, and multiple offensive and defensive players said it was an up-and-down type of day.

"They did drive the ball on us a couple times and I'll give the offense credit, but I felt like it went back-and-forth," defensive tackle Frank Boenzi said. "We had a couple of three-and-outs."

Running back Leighton Settle was the offensive star, getting a couple of scores and plenty of yards after contact. We'll have more on his day later tonight/Sunday.

NIU's offense had a fast start to the day, but the defense made about equal number of stops. Defensive back Jimmie Ward made a couple of nice pass breakups, but the junior wanted more and punished himself with pushups after not hauling in an interception.

"I'm getting better," Ward said. "But there are still some mistakes. I need to finish, like I had a couple of interceptions that I dropped, so I need to start finishing."

Jefferson out: Senior defensive lineman Nabal Jefferson was officially ruled out for the rest of spring practice after suffering a foot fracture last week. NIU coach Dave Doeren said Jefferson would be ready for fall camp.

Observations

Jordan Lynch looks real comfortable.

The junior quarterback was happy with how NIU's offense came out to start the scrimmage. He still has his struggles and missed a few reads, but for the end of the second week of practice, Lynch looks like he's in charge of NIU's offense.

"I just liked the swag the guy has," Doeren said. "He's really confident. He's talking to the guys the right way. He's bouncing around, I just really like that about them. The plays and the mistakes are going to improve with repetition, but I just really like the way he's acting."

Redshirt freshman backup Matt McIntosh has shown flashes of talent. He throws a pretty looking (though not entirely accurate) deep ball but struggled at other times. Doeren said he saw improvement from McIntosh.

"He got better. He had a really bad day a couple of days ago and it's fun to see him improve," Doeren said.

On the defensive line, Boenzi, Ken Bishop and Jason Meehan all had strong days, but Doeren said the defense lined up in the neutral zone six times.

"That can't happen," Doeren said. "Those are things we have to change, we can't self-inflict wounds, but the guys competed hard."

Quotable: "He's one of those guys that's not a man of many words, just give him the ball and see what he can do with it. I saw him dragging two, three guys into the end zone one time and scored." – Lynch on Settle.

– John Sahly, jsahly@shawmedia.com, @JSahly on Twitter

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