Sure it looks good, but...

Posted on August 28, 2014 - 18:23:34

Matt McIntosh found Da'Ron Brown on a brilliant 39-yard scoring pass. But he was wide open. How would have better coverage - at the line or the secondary - have affected that TD?

And Tommylee Lewis had a big punt return, but ran east-west and backwards. A lot. But he eventually found a hole. Again, is he going to be able to get away this going forward?

I point this out only to say how important SchedulePalooza was. Hopefully we don't see many more of these type of games.

-Eddie Carifio

LIVE BLOG: NIU vs. Presbyterian

Posted on August 28, 2014 - 17:27:51

Final thoughts: NIU 55, Presbyterian 3

Nothing to really complain about tonight, right? Sure, it's tough to judge the Huskies against a bad FCS team, but it was an all-around solid performance. Fans have to be happy with the tailbacks, and I liked what I saw quarterback-wise as well.

I think the competition is between McIntosh and Maddie, and both showed good flashes. I thought McIntosh looked good throwing and running, and Hare got better as the game went on. He went 8 of 13 and had a couple real nice runs.

My guess is Carey won't name a starter next week either. He didn't even rule out playing multiple quarterbacks against Northwestern.

It will be interesting to see how he handles the situation against a Big Ten opponent. He could afford to play this one as more of a preseason game.

End of the third: NIU 55, Presbyterian 3

Drew Hare looked shaky at first, but I thought he improved for each series, and I was really impressed with a couple of his runs. Hare finished 8 of 13 through the air with 100 ayrds and a touchdown. My guess is Carey won't announce a starter next week either, though it's certainly between Hare and Matt McIntosh at this point, and I'd give the edge to McIntosh.

Nothing much to say about this one. Sure, NIU has looked impressive, but considering the opponent it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Only thing to keep an eye on in the fourth is the true freshmen wideouts and defensive backs.

Halftime: NIU 34, Presbyterian 0

While Matt McIntosh had a solid first quarter, NIU head coach Rod Carey did what many thought he would, and that was play multiple quarterbacks.

Drew Hare took the field for all three of NIU's second-quarter possessions. He didn't look as comfortable as McIntosh, but went 7 of 12 for 51 yards, and looked solid on the final possession, which included a nice 25-yard run.

Will Anthony Maddie be the guy in the third?

The star of the first half was sophomore tailback Joel Bouagnon, who ran 15 times for 96 yards and three touchdowns. Akeem Daniels had 15 carries for 118 yards.

End of the first quarter: NIU 17, Presbyterian 0

Matt McIntosh quarterbacked all three NIU offensive series in the first quarter, and he did a good job, going 10 of 14 for 87 yards and a touchdown, and running for 27 yards.

He made good decisions, showed good touch and showed off his athleticism (which I've always liked) in the first quarter.

It will be interesting to see if Drew Hare and/or Anthony Maddie get some time during the final three quarters.

15 minutes until gametime

It looks like Matt McIntosh is the guy.

At least for the start of the game. All three quarterbacks were actually announced with the starting lineups, but it was McIntosh who was taking reps on the field with the first team.

The question is, how much time will Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie get? I think at least one of them will get some game reps, but it seems to be McIntosh's gig to lose.

In what should be a complete blowout (NIU is a 40-point favorite), it will be an interesting storyline to follow.

45 minutes until gametime

Let's just say I highly doubt fans will flock to Huskie Stadium to see NIU take on an FCS team that went 3-9 last season. And why should someone take off work early to come see this game?

My take on these FCS contests is this – I wish they didn't exist. If NIU truly wants to be in the hunt for the automatic Group of Five birth in the College Football Playoff in the upcoming years, I think it would be much more beneficial to play another Group of Five team (something Sean Frazier has been doing a good job of scheduling).

However, if NIU is going to insist on playing an FCS team, the Huskies are better off playing a program like Presbyterian, which has struggled mightily in recent years, over teams like Eastern Illinois.

In this particular season with the quarterback situation being unsettled, NIU is fortunate this is the first game of the year as well.

Enjoy the game, I'll be blogging every quarter and tweeting updates from @HuskieWire. If anyone has questions, tweet them over.

– Steve Nitz, snitz@shawmedia.com, @SNitz_DDC

Neon shoulder pads?

Posted on August 28, 2014 - 17:26:00

I can't help but wonder what the thought process was for these Corn Fest unis.

"Say, what if we took a small portion of Oregon's weirdest uniform, but limited only to the shoulder area on our black and red color scheme?"

"Bob, that's brilliant!"

I like the idea behind the corn uniforms NIU is sporting for tonight's game. Civic pride and all. And yellow might actually mesh nicely in the Huskies' color scheme. But this is that Baylor/Oregon neon yellow, nay green, and it kinda clashes. Of course, I am not an expert.

So am I wrong?

News conference notes: Still no starting QB

Posted on August 25, 2014 - 14:09:18

Presbyterian is three days away, and Northern Illinois still hasn't named a quarterback. Anthony Maddie, Matt McIntosh and Drew Hare are all listed at the top of the depth chart which was released Monday, and I think there's a good chance all three take the field against Presbyterian.

"Are we getting to a point where we could play more than one? Probably because of how they've performed, not so much that we can't decide on a guy," NIU head coach Rod Carey said at Monday's news conference. "It's more based on that performance if we go down that road. So, like I said, I go back to, it's a good problem to have because we have three guys that are playing pretty well."

So, it looks like there will be some sort of rotation. I'll have more on this later today.

Other notes from Carey's news conference:

• Starting linebacker Jamaal Bass isn't listed on the depth chart. He's still recovering from a leg injury suffered last season, but Carey said the injury isn't serious.

•Rasheen Lemon is listed as the starter at one of the outside linebacker spots, and it'll be Michael Santacaterina or Sean Folliard at the other. Boomer Mays is the starter in the middle.

Lemon was suspended for most of last season due to an academic issue, but returned for the beginning of camp.

"He's really knocked quite a bit of the rust off," Carey said. "And quite frankly, I think his mindset has helped him, he understands that he's back doing what he loves and that has really made a difference on his mental approach to practice."

•You'll see some new faces at defensive tackle. Redshirt freshman William Lee and junior-college transfer Ben Compton are listed as the starters there.

• There's four true freshmen listed at corner on the two-deep: Mayomi Olootu, Shawun Lurry, Albert Smalls and Tifonte Hunt. This isn't a surprise at all, and it's something I'll be keeping my eye on Thursday.

– Steve Nitz, snitz@shawmedia.com, @SNitz_DDC

Thursday practice notes

Posted on August 21, 2014 - 17:25:30

Northern Illinois held its final practice of fall camp on Thursday. The Huskies will begin game week preparation for Presbyterian on Saturday.

NIU head coach Rod Carey said he was pleased with how far the defense came during camp, which is certainly a good sign.

"We had some question marks and still do, quite frankly," Carey said. "But not as many."

Carey said the defensive line was one area that took a big step forward, and he thinks there will be a deep rotation there.

Other notes from Thursday's practice:

• Carey still hasn't named a starting quarterback, and isn't sure when he will. It wouldn't surprise me if 2-3 quarterbacks played against Presbyterian.

• There are a number of true freshmen defensive backs who haven't been practicing with the scout team. My guess is you'll see a couple of them back there. Corner Mayomi Oluutu is one guy who has been getting solid reps.

• Another true freshman who could see time is linebacker Renard Cheren, a 6-1, 195-pound linebacker out of Lake Worth, Florida. Cheren was a late addition to the roster as he had to finish up a summer class back home. He's gotten a decent amount of reps and hasn't been with the scout team.

"He's got all the physical skills you look for," Carey said. "... His learning curve has been steep, but he's really caught on nicely."

Who will start at QB for NIU against Presbyterian?
Matt McIntosh
Anthony Maddie
Drew Hare