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Huskies fight the rain

Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey watches over practice at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey watches over practice at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb on Saturday, Dec. 8.

DeKALB — Rain can be pretty common down in south Florida.

With that in mind, Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey had no problem holding practice at Huskie Stadium Saturday morning, even though there was a steady rain falling and players and coaches were soaked coming off the field.

The team had the option of practicing indoors at the DeKalb Sports and Recreation Center, but Carey figured he'd rather just go outside with the possibility of rain at the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.

"It could rain in Miami, couldn't it?" Carey joked after practice.

Carey got the younger players a lot of reps Saturday, something he's been doing in these early pre-bowl practices. Monday, the team will start practicing in preparing for Florida State.

Other notes from Saturday's practice:

• South Florida is one of the biggest hotbeds when it comes to high school football talent. The Huskies will be on the national stage in that backyard New Year's Day, something Carey said will certainly help recruiting in the area.

"Playing in the Orange Bowl helps recruiting everywhere, but for sure in Florida," he said. "It's something we're going to take advantage of and have been. It's only going to help us."

• Defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen wasn't at practice Friday or Saturday. Carey said Nielsen, who will join Dave Doeren at N.C. State after the Orange Bowl, is splitting time between DeKalb and Raleigh, but will be at NIU when the team starts practicing in preparation for Florida State.

• Speaking of N.C. State coaching moves, Doeren hired former NIU offensive coordinator Matt Canada to the same position in Raleigh. Canada was at NIU in 2011, and spent this season as Wisconsin's offensive coordinator.

Friday, Doeren hired Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable to lead his defense.

• For NIU, moving the ball against Florida State's defense isn't going to be easy. The Seminoles rank seventh in the nation in scoring defense, and have 33 sacks — 13 from All-American defensive end Bjoern Werner.

Carey said Florida State's pass rushers will be the biggest challenge his line has faced all season, and described the Seminoles' defense as your typical top-tier unit.

"They're long, they're athletic, they're fast. They're everything you would expect out of an ACC champion," Carey said. "Their D-line, their linebackers, their secondary, all good players. Real good players across the board."

• Spoke to NIU wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson after practice. His group has been solid this year, and features a 1,000-yard receiver in senior Martel Moore. One thing Jackson said about the group is how good their attitude has been this season.

"Every time I walk into my [office], there hasn't been one day where I have to get after these guys about their attitudes. Coming to practice, going to work every single day," he said. "Previous stops I've been at, I've had to have those conversations with guys. This year I've yet to have that conversation with these guys."

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