Northern Illinois’ bye week comes at the right time when it comes to the health of running back Akeem Daniels and wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.
Daniels was out all fall camp after recovering from foot surgery, and NIU coach Rod Carey knew he wasn’t going to have his services in the Huskies’ season opener Saturday at Iowa, a 30-27 win.
However, the Huskies were dealt another blow when junior wide receiver Tommylee Lewis left the game after catching five passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Lewis didn’t return, and during Monday’s Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference, Carey said Lewis has an ankle sprain, but that he’ll be fine. Carey didn’t have a timetable for the junior’s return.
The Huskies are off this week before playing Sept. 14 at Idaho.
“It’s one of those things, day by day you’ve got to take it,” Carey said.
Carey said Daniels is making a lot of progress and should be back soon. Cameron Stingily took the bulk of the tailback carries Saturday, rushing for 47 yards on 12 carries. Keith Harris Jr. ran five times for 30 yards.
At receiver, Da’Ron Brown and Angelo Sebastiano helped make up for Lewis’ absence. Brown caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Sebastiano had five grabs for 69 yards.
“Guys stepped up, like Da’Ron Brown and A.J. Sebastiano,” Carey said. “All of the wide receivers just really kind of stepped in and filled in the gap there for Tommy’s loss. Really happy with the way they came out and played.”
Rockets reuniting with Pinkel: Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel was the head man in Toledo from 1991-2000, winning a conference title, Las Vegas Bowl and three MAC West crowns.
He’s put together a 91-61 record at Missouri since 2001, and Saturday, Pinkel will face his former program when the Rockets head into Columbia, Mo.
“Coach Pinkel was such a great asset to the University of Toledo, and what he did in his tenure was really second to nobody,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said.
It will be the second straight SEC opponent Toledo has faced. The Rockets suffered a 24-6 defeat to Florida on Saturday down at The Swamp.
Turnovers haunt Broncos in Fleck’s debut: Western Michigan turned the ball over four times in Friday’s 26-13 loss to Michigan State, and the Broncos also lost their starting quarterback, Tyler Van Tubbergen, to injury. He could be back when Western Michigan hosts Nicholls State this weekend.
After Nicholls, the Broncos’ nonconference schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they have visits to Northwestern and Iowa.
“We went against probably a top five defense in the entire country,” Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said. “They were everything they were hyped up to be. They were very good.”
Fleck, a Northern Illinois and Kaneland graduate, was making his debut as a Division I head coach.
No victims to FCS here: Eight Football Championship Subdivision teams defeated FBS teams this weekend. The MAC, however, went 3-0, with Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Kent State all defeating their FCS foes.
Ball State actually trailed Illinois State at halftime, but came roaring back in a 51-28 win.
“They were certainly as good as advertised,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. “Very impressed with Illinois State’s preparation, their coaching.”
– Steve Nitz, email@example.com