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NIU Notes: Huskies struggle on third down

DeKALB – To Rod Carey, Northern Illinois' third-down percentage Saturday night is not acceptable.

NIU's head coach watched his team go only 1 of 15 on third down in a 27-20 win over Akron. The Huskies came into the game converting 41 percent of their third-down plays.

"I can't explain it. It's unacceptable in every way, shape or form," Carey said. "We will do some self-reflection and we will get that corrected."

NIU's third-down struggles wouldn't allow the offense to get into any sort of a rhythm, which is unusual for a group which came in averaging 529.6 yards. The Huskies had 399 yards Saturday, and put out their lowest point total of the season.

"I blame it on myself. I was kind of out of rhythm, missing throws. [The throws] were off only by an inch," said NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was just 16 of 35 passing for 220 yards and a touchdown. "All the credit goes to Akron's defense, they're fundamentally sound.

"Once again, there were still throws there. I just never got in that rhythm, making that completion."

Wedel handles field goals: Tyler Wedel was a busy man Saturday.

Wedel, who handles kickoffs and punts for the Huskies, was forced into field-goal duties with Mathew Sims, who suffered a leg injury in last week's win at Kent State, inactive.

Carey said Sims tried to give it a go today, but in the end he was held out.

Wedel said handling all three duties takes a little bit of a toll on his leg, and that technique-wise the kicks are different.

Wedel punted the ball eight times for an average of 41.4 yards, hit three extra points, and went 2 of 4 on field-goal attempts. Wedel hit a 42- and a 21-yard field goal, but had a 46- and a 40-yard kick blocked.

"The first [block], was an absolute terrible kick," Wedel said. "The second one, when I hit it originally it felt good. I'm going to have to look at it on film. I'm going to assume I hit it more like a kickoff so it was more like a line drive.

"Regardless of whether it hit the sweet spot of the ball, it's still low, and it obviously got blocked. I've got to look at the film and see what happened on that one."

Lynch joins some good company: Lynch ran for 83 yards on Saturday. In the process, he became the top rushing quarterback in NIU history, passing Chandler Harnish.

He also became the 10th quarterback in Football Bowl Subdivision history to pass for more than 4,000 and run for more than 3,000 yards in a career.

The others on the list – Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Brad Smith (Missouri), Antwaan Randle El (Indiana), Joshua Cribbs (Kent State), Denard Robinson (Michigan), Pat White (West Virginia), Vince Young (Texas), Brian Mitchell (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska).

Akron head coach Terry Bowden compared Lynch to Tim Tebow when he was at Florida.

"He doesn't go to the ground. He runs between the tackles and he can also scramble," Bowden said. "You've got to make sure you keep people inside for his running game as well as the passing game."

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