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Quarterbacks have plenty of talent to work with

Published: Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 10:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 11:54 p.m. CDT
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(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Northern Illinois quarterback Anthony Maddie (left) hands the ball off to Malik Mitchell during an Aug. 4 practice at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois’ starting quarterback is still a question mark.

Matt McIntosh, Anthony Maddie and Drew Hare have been battling throughout fall camp, but NIU coach Rod Carey has yet to name a starter, though he’s said all three have been improving.

One thing which isn’t a question mark is the talent disposal whoever starts will have around him.

An offensive line with four starters back will help provide pass protection and holes for a strong group of running backs – and all three signal callers have running ability as well. There’s also a strong corps of wide receivers such as Da’Ron Brown, Tommylee Lewis, Juwan Brescacin and Aregeros Turner.

“I think toward the end [of camp] we found a better rhythm,” Brescacin said of the offense’s progression. “We’ve still got things to work on so we can execute better, but I think it’s coming together. I think we’ll be ready.”

NIU offensive coordinator Bob Cole said all three quarterbacks have been coming along well since the Huskies’ Aug. 14 scrimmage. He mentioned Maddie as one guy who has really improved since spring ball. Maddie had to catch up on the offense, as he arrived at NIU last summer after transferring from Western Michigan.

“Big jump from spring ball to fall camp, I think he’s got a pretty good command of the offense,” Cole said.

One thing Cole mentioned about his offense’s play was the backfield depth, even with last year’s starter, senior Cameron Stingily, out with an injury. There’s a lot of talent with players like Akeem Daniels and Keith Harris back from injury, not to mention redshirt freshman Jordan Huff and sophomores Draco Smith and Joel Bouagnon, who both saw time as true freshmen last season.

“We probably have anywhere from four to six guys that we can put in the game and feel good about,” Cole said. “Kelton (Copeland)’s done a great job with those guys.”

It’s been an unusual situation for the rest of the offense in fall camp, with three starters taking reps with the first-team. Brescacin said it took some time to get used to at the start of camp, but now the offense’s rhythm isn’t affected by it.

“At the beginning it did. When you come out on the field you’ve just got to come out and look at who’s at quarterback. You just adjust to their style of play, and we just go with it.”

NIU will not practice today with classes starting, and will return to the field Tuesday. Carey will hold his weekly press conference Monday, and will certainly be asked about the quarterback situation.

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