By JOHN SAHLY - jsahly@daily-chronicle.com

With finals over, Huskies get back to work

DeKALB – Count quarterback Chandler Harnish as one of many Northern Illinois players who are happy Friday came.

With finals officially over, the NIU football team began preparations for the International Bowl with a 90-minute practice at the DeKalb Sports and Recreation Center.

Harnish only had two finals, but one was for a class worth nine credit hours.

"I was stressed out over finals," Harnish said. "We took that yesterday and did pretty well. I'm ready to start football again, though. [The class was] finance, marketing, management and operations management. Four teachers. One class. We met for three hours a day, three days a week. I've been studying and everything. Now it's really time to start focusing on South Florida."

While NIU's opponent for the bowl game, South Florida, is focusing on its passport situation, the Huskies had decent energy for their first practice in a little more than two weeks.

"We're trying to play them back into shape," NIU coach Jerry Kill said. "I don't believe in lining up and running across the deal. We just put the pads on and let them play. I thought [freshman quarterback] A.J. Hill, he's been injured, and I was excited about him and also [freshman quarterback Jordan Lynch]. We got to see two young quarterbacks do some decent things today."

A few Huskies who had been injured also returned to practice. Defensive tackle Brian Lawson (hand/finger), wide receiver Perez Ashford (foot) and safety Mike Sobol (concussion) all practiced and are cleared to play in the bowl game. Linebacker/kick returner John Tranchitella (knee) is hoping to get cleared to practice next week.

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