Even for the veteran Northern Illinois defense, spring football is full of learning experiences.
On Wednesday, the offense used empty packages for the first time, which put the defense on its heels.
“We’ve got to go back and polish up the rules and some things,” coach Dave Doeren said. “We put in our empty packages and our offense had a lot of good plays out of empty. That’s kind of spring ball for you.”
Doeren praised his team’s effort, but he knows there’s a long way to go.
“No matter what happens, on game day, you can’t show every play to your guys,” he said. “They’ve got to be able to take the big picture rules of offense, defense and special teams and use them. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
The spring has been rocky for redshirt freshman quarterback Matt McIntosh.
Wednesday, McIntosh took a sack instead of throwing the ball away on one possession, but was able to redeem himself with a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Anthony Johnson to close out practice.
“He’s got a long way to go, but he’s working really hard. He’s thick-skinned,” Doeren said. “He’s making a lot of mistakes that are good mistakes to make, and he’s learning from them. You’d rather see them in practice than in the game.”
The first string offensive line has stayed relatively the same throughout the spring, but there may be shuffling throughout the spring. Ryan Brown and Tyler Pitt split time at left tackle on Wednesday, and Doeren said he thinks redshirt freshman Andrew Ness will begin to challenge redshirt sophomore center Michael Gegner.