News conference notes: Carey to call plays during Orange Bowl

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DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said he wants his team to go through the least amount of change possible as the Huskies prepare for the Orange Bowl against Florida State.

That's one reason Carey, who has served as NIU's offensive coordinator since Week 2, will call plays on New Year's Day.

"I'm going to call it this game. I'm going to get out there and do it," Carey said at Tuesday's pre-Orange Bowl news conference. "That was the biggest thing going in, keeping this staff for this game. I'm coaching the o-line, I'm being the [offensive coordinator]. I guess I'll be on the sideline, doing some head coaching things too. If that's the change, is me, that's better than 105 players changing."

Quarterback Jordan Lynch said the offense should be comfortable with Carey still serving as offensive coordinator.

"Nothing really changes," he said. "We're going to do what we did for the last 12 weeks since he took over. Do what he did and play fast, how we normally do it."

Other notes from Tuesday's news conference:

• One change to the coaching staff is the addition of Mike Sabock, who will coach fullbacks and tight ends. Sabock was an assistant at NIU from 1984-207, before spending 2008-11 at Western Michigan.

Carey said Sabock called and offered to help out.

"He called Jeff (Compher) and said 'Hey Jeff, if Rod needs somebody,' " Carey said. "Jeff passed that along to me, I jumped at it."

• Former NIU wide receiver and assistant coach P.J. Fleck was introduced as Western Michigan coach Tuesday afternoon. Fleck coached wide receivers at NIU from 2007-09, and coached some of the current Huskies.

"I know he told me and Perez (Ashford) when we first got here that he wanted to be one of the youngest head football coaches in college football, and now he's getting a chance to do that," senior wide receiver Martel Moore said. "So I just congratulate him for everything he's done to get to that point. That's a great accomplishment for him."

• The offensive line has been one of the biggest surprises for NIU this season. The group is even having success without Logan Pegram, who started 22 games coming into this season and was supposed to be the team's starting center before suffering a lower leg fracture during preseason practice.

Carey said the injury has been tough on Pegram, who's still been around the team, but that he's responded well. Carey said he doesn't think it will be possible for Pegram to get a medical redshirt and a sixth year of eligibility.

"It's been hard on him. He got his career taken away from him with an injury. I don't like talking about that too much because I'm pretty emotional with that with him," Carey said. "It's been hard on him but he's responded well."

• NIU will have some structured team events down in south Florida, such as a beach party and players reception at the Fountainebleau Hotel. Carey also realizes the trip is a reward, and inferred he would let the players go out on their own as well.

"We're going to let them be kids, but they know they are representing themselves, and the spotlight is on, and the spotlight is bigger than it's been for us. We've been talking about that non-stop," Carey said. "We wanted this. That's what our kids have gone after. To think that they would minimize this or use this or not be responsible for this, I think would be short sighted on my part.

"They're going to be responsible, I'm going to help them be responsible. But they're going to enjoy it too."

— Steve Nitz, snitz@shawmedia.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter

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Will the NIU football team play for the MAC title this year?
Yes
No
Too soon to tell