College Football Preview: The 2014 Northern Illinois Huskies
The Northern Illinois Huskies begin life without Jordan Lynch.
2014 College Football Preview
The Northern Illinois Huskies hope to compete for MAC championship despite the loss of star quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Overview: The question heading in to 2014 for Northern Illinois is not who they have coming back but who they lost and who they lost can be summed up in two words; Jordan Lynch. With good reason as Lynch was a Heisman finalist who was an offensive machine through the air and on the ground however the cupboard is not bare with plenty of talent back so the Huskies should be able to do some damage on the scoreboard.
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Offense: There is talent at the quarterback position but who emerges as the favorite this summer is the question. Matt McIntosh and Drew Hare backed up Lynch so they obviously didn't see much game time but figure to be favorites with Anthony Maddie somewhere in the mix. Cameron Stingily was second on the team in rushing with 1,119 yards and he has numerous options to join him in the backfield but Akeem Daniels could be an interesting piece. Daniels had foot problems in 2013 but ran for almost 450 yards in 2012 and brings speed to the table. The receiving corps has the tandem of Tommylee Lewis and Da'Ron Brown to lean on with both totaling over 700 yards each in 2013. The line gets four starters back including All MAC tackle Tyler Loos.
Defense: The defensive line returns ends Jason Meehan and Perez Ford who combined for eleven sacks but not a whole lot otherwise. The roster is filled with smallish, quick players but will struggle against running teams because they simply don't have the bulk and strength. Fortunately all three starting linebackers and their backups return so they will be asked to generate a pass rush and help out in the run defense. Dechane Durante has potential at SS but loss of FS Jimmie Ward (78.5 T. 7 Int) is going to hurt the secondary as a whole especially if the guys up front don't get pressure on the QB.
Special Teams: Tyler Wedel will handle the kicking duties with 28-50 of his punts resulting in a fair catch while going 8-8 on PAT's and 3-5 on FG but only 1-3 beyond 40 yards. Lewis will be the primary return man but struggled on six PR with under a four yard average.
Outlook: NIU should put up plenty of points if an adequate replacement for Lynch is found because the offense has tons of talent. Unfortunately opponents will do their share of scoring as well but the Huskies should score enough to surprise those happy to see Lynch gone.