DeKALB – Rod Carey was forced to come up with a Plan B.
His Northern Illinois football team has been banged up this spring, and Carey didn’t think the Huskies had the bodies to stage Saturday’s Huskie Bowl as it was constructed.
Carey still wanted to see the competition, so he just tweaked the format. Instead of the team being split up evenly – “Cardinal” and “Black” rosters were drafted last week – the offense will go against the defense in a scrimmage, and there will be a number of other drills in which the offense and defense can earn points, such as one-on-one pass rush, pass protection and 7-on-7.
The Cardinal Team, coached by cornerbacks coach Kelvin Sigler, will be the defense, while the offense will be the Black Team coached by offensive line coach Joe Tripodi, who won last year’s Huskie Bowl. The team with the most points in the combined drills will be the winner.
“We came up with a good little format, and I kind of like this,” Carey said during Wednesday’s news conference at the Yordon Center. “It will get some competition base, which is what we’re always all about, and it will be a good thing.”
The Huskie Bowl will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and will conclude NIU’s spring practices.
Other notes from Wednesday’s news conference:
• Each of the three quarterbacks – junior Matt McIntosh and sophomores Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie – will get one series in the scrimmage, and Carey would like to get them two.
Carey said each has taken a step forward this spring.
“It’s a good problem coming out of the spring, is that we’ve got three quarterbacks that improved,” Carey said. “We’re going to have to, before we play that first game, we’re going to have somebody go ahead and separate themselves a little bit.”
• Carey said injuries on the defensive line and backfield as a main reason Saturday’s format needed to be tweaked. The line is without tackles Michael Ippolito and Cal Breedlove, as well as Mario Jones, who was injured in Tuesday’s practice. Carey said Jones’ injury is nothing serious.
The defensive backfield has been without safety Dechane Durante, who’s missed the spring because of a knee injury, and sophomore corner Charles Ivory.
• Marlon Moore moved from cornerback to safety this spring, and Carey said Moore will stay there. Carey said Moore’s cover skills and physicality make him a good fit at safety, as well as the fact that he understands the defense.
• In other DB news, Carey said junior corner Paris Logan has had the best spring of anybody on the team.
• With Tyler Loos and Ryan Brown missing spring practices because of injuries, it has opened up a lot of reps for sophomores Lincoln Howard and Josh Ruka at the offensive tackle spots, and Carey’s been impressed with the young group.
“There’s been one heck of a battle going on there,” he said. “Brownie and Loos know this too, they better step it up when they get back in the fall, because that’s some good competition right there.”