Welcome to the first addition of “Spring Review” where we’ll go through all of the positions and evaluate who came out ahead at the end of Northern Illinois spring practice, who still has work to do and what you can expect for the start of fall camp.
Today, we’ll take a look at the quarterbacks.
Chander Harnish entered the spring as the starter and did nothing to lose the job. Barring injury, he will be the starter when the Huskies take on Wisconsin to open the season.
Harnish’s improvement in his soft skills (leadership, communication) was noticeable early and it’s pretty clear that this is his team. Teammates listen to him and look to him for guidance.
Now, did he improve on his 2008 season?
Harnish’s main goals this spring were to limit his turnovers and make better decisions. Through the first two weeks, he was accomplishing those goals with pretty good consistency. As NIU went to more situational drills, he struggled with that for about five practices.
The last week of practice he started to come around. His decision-making improved and he cut down his turnovers. His performance at the spring preview (8-of-12, 58 yards, one touchdown, zero turnovers) was positive and something to build off of entering the fall.
Most improved: DeMarcus Grady
Grady has taken a few steps forward since the end of 2008. He reads coverages better, doesn’t telegraph his throws and appeared to have a little more zip on his passes. His wind-up is still slow and his accuracy needs work, but the coaching staff trusts him to make throws this year.
If the coaches feel he progressed enough, expect to see an expanded role for Grady in the offense, as I wrote on April 2.
Still needs work: Brandon Rogers
Rogers has a powerful arm, but is still getting used to the speed of the game. He needs to get the ball out quicker and make better decisions on his throws.
Huskie Wire post-spring depth chart:
Chandler Harnish (Sophomore)
DeMarcus Grady (Sophomore)
Brandon Rogers (Redshirt freshman)
Ryan Morris (Senior)
Incoming recruits: A.J. Hill (I'm listing Jordan Lynch and Garret Barnas as safeties, since they will most likely be moved there)
Video interviews:Chandler Harnish (4-4)
Next Spring Review: Running backs
Answering your questions
"Styles P Deadball" asked: Great job, John. I saw that Chad Spann was in a boot on Saturday, after walking around pretty well on that foot a week earlier. Do we know what his injury was?
John Sahly: Thanks, Styles. Walking boots are nothing new, and as coach Jerry Kill said after Saturday's scrimmage, the players who were hurt during spring ball should be fine by the time fall camp begins.