Northern Illinois released its depth chart for the Iowa game before its weekly news conference at the Yordon Center on Tuesday.
There weren't really any surprises. Redshirt freshman Boomer Mays had been taking snaps at middle linebacker with senior Victor Jacques out with a leg injury, but Jacques was back at practice last week and is listed as the starting middle linebacker.
The starting offensive line will consist of Tyler Loos at left tackle, Aidan Conlon at left guard, Andrew Ness at center, Matthew Killian at right guard, and Matt Krempel at right tackle.
Junior Akeem Daniels is listed as the starting tailback, but expect to see a rotation at that spot. Five running backs are listed on the depth chart — Daniels, Leighton Settle, Jamal Womble, Cameron Stingily and Keith Harris Jr.
Harris is one of five true freshmen listed. The others are tight end Desroy Maxwell, defensive end Perez Ford, cornerback Marlon Moore and walk-on wide receiver Jacob Brinlee.
NIU head coach Dave Doeren doesn't like to play true freshmen, unless he knows that player can help the team win.
"We discuss it a lot. I don't like burning a guy's redshirt if he's not going to be an integral part or have the ability to benefit greatly from the year," Doeren said.
In Maxwell's case, Doeren thought it was best for him to travel and learn from senior tight end Jason Schepler.
"We're going to play Desroy Maxwell, one of our freshman tight ends, because I think if he travels and follows Jason Schepler around for an entire season, as opposed to not doing that, he will be much more prepared to be our starting tight end next season," Doeren said. "He'll play on special teams. He'll play on offense at times, but I know if I redshirted him and had him [staying in DeKalb] the entire year, he wouldn't gain as much."
A few other notes and observations from the news conference:
• Freshman Matt Williams will travel with the team this season and be the emergency quarterback. Doeren still plans on redshirting him. Fellow freshman quarterback Drew Hare will work the scout team.
"We just felt like talking to both of those guys together, Drew was kind of excited about competing against our defense every day in practice, he felt like that would help him more," Doeren said. "And Matt felt that being with Jordan would help him. It was more of a decision, we think either way you do it you're going to gain a lot."
• Doeren stressed wanting to get off to a fast start against Iowa, something that didn't happen in last year's game against Wisconsin at Soldier Field.
"I don't know if we need a statement as much as we need to be in the game. I don't want to look up and see 21-0," he said. "I think if we could play with them and not beat ourselves, I think that's a huge key, if you play a fundamentally-sound team and just don't give them opportunities. Make them earn everything."
• Senior tight end Jason Schepler, a Sycamore graduate, has been sitting out practice every other day while recovering from a knee injury. Schepler said the recovery has been going fine. He's listed as one of the starting tight ends on NIU's depth chart.
"Recovery's going really well. Knee's been feeling great," Schepler said. "It's fun to get back out there with my teammates. I think taking that year or whatever off, and just being able to come back and practice with my teammates, that's what it's all about."
— Steve Nitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter