DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren has started to use the word “Heisman” when talking about his quarterback Jordan Lynch.
After Saturday’s 48-34 win at Western Michigan, Doeren said his quarterback should be getting some consideration.
Doeren talked about Lynch a lot during Tuesday’s news conference and, once again, the Huskies’ second-year coach said Lynch deserves to be in the conversation for some postseason awards, including the Heisman Trophy, given annually to college football’s best player.
Lynch’s numbers certainly back him up. He’s No. 1 in the nation with 3,169 yards of total offense, and second in rushing yards (1,185). Lynch ranks first in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 32 touchdowns, and broke the NCAA record for quarterbacks with his seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing game last week.
The Chicago native has also played mistake-free football lately. After throwing three interceptions the first four weeks of the season, Lynch hasn’t thrown a pick in his last five games.
“I thought early on I was forcing passes when they weren’t there,” Lynch said after Tuesday’s practice at Huskie Stadium. “You know, it just comes with experience, too. The more games I play the more comfortable I feel.”
Despite his strong numbers, not to mention the fact he’s helped lead NIU to an 8-1 record this season, Lynch could have a tough time getting into the thick of the Heisman race. It’s always a challenge for players from non-BCS leagues to get into the conversation.
Former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer was the last player from the mid-major school to win the Heisman. He took home the award in 1990. Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third in 2007, and another Mountain West quarterback, Utah’s Alex Smith, took fourth back in 2004.
The Mid-American Conference isn’t foreign to the big stage either. Marshall’s Chad Pennington finished in fifth place back in 1999, and Thundering Herd wide receiver Randy Moss took fourth in 1997.
And it’s not like having a Hesiman candidate is completely unusual to NIU. Former tailback LeShon Johnson was sixth in 1993, garnering five first-place votes. Michael Turner was 18th in 2003 (three third-place votes) and Garrett Wolfe took 11th in 2006.
It may be tough for Lynch to get his name mixed in with the likes of Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (175.47 passer rating, good for second in the nation) or Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, who leads the nation with a 182.40 passer rating for a team that is favored to win the SEC and play for a national championship.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has the Fighting Irish hype machine at full speed right behind him.
One thing which could help Lynch is the upcoming slate of nationally-televised games for the Huskies. The Nov. 14 contest against Toledo is scheduled to be on either ESPN2 or ESPNU and the Huskies’ Friday, Nov. 23 game at Eastern Michigan could still wind up on ESPNU. There’s also the possibility of playing in the MAC Championship Game, which would be on ESPN2.
“I think playing on a big stage and playing well is a big deal to the media and it should be. For our players, that’s what they want,” Doeren said. “They all want to be on that stage, so I know he’ll be excited about it. The biggest stage he’s been on nationally, is probably the Iowa game.”
The Iowa game was arguably his worst performance of the season. He went just 6 of 16 passing for 54 yards, but did run for 119 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown.
“He ran the ball well against Iowa. I know that he can throw the ball better. That was his first start, and from that point on, he has. I know he’ll look forward to playing (on national television) again.”