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Carey still undecided on starting QB, but decision nears

Danielle Guerra -   
Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey pauses between fielding questions during a press conference inside the Yordon Center at NIU on Monday, August 25, 2014.
Danielle Guerra - Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey pauses between fielding questions during a press conference inside the Yordon Center at NIU on Monday, August 25, 2014.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois went into fall camp without a starting quarterback.

With the season opener against Presbyterian coming up Thursday, Huskies coach Rod Carey still hasn’t named a starter.

Junior Matt McIntosh and sophomores Anthony Maddie and Drew Hare have been fighting for the spot since spring practice. While Carey said a decision is getting closer, who will be under center for the first snap against the Blue Hose is still undetermined.

“It’s a good problem to have, but nonetheless, a good problem or a bad problem is still a problem,” Carey said. “It’s still something that we’re getting through. Here’s my expectations, my expectations are real easy for the quarterbacks, and I’ve laid this out and I don’t care who’s in there.

“They’ve all performed at such a high level that I expect that person that’s in there to play well, and they’ve proven that they can do that right now.”

Carey wouldn’t rule out playing multiple quarterbacks against Presbyterian.

“Are we getting to a point where we could play more than one? Probably because of how they’ve performed, not so much that we can’t decide on a guy,” Carey said. “It’s more based on that performance if we go down that road. So, like I said, I go back to, it’s a good problem to have because we have three guys that are playing pretty well.”

All three quarterbacks took first-team reps throughout spring ball and fall camp. The rest of the offense has gotten used to each quarterback.

The players have said there aren’t many differences, and are prepared for whoever takes the field.

“It will take time to get used to them – but that was the point of the summer and the offseason,” senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown said. “Using that time wisely was what helped us get used to the quarterbacks. Now, whoever’s in, we’re all comfortable with each other.”

Added offensive tackle Ryan Brown: “There’s not much of a difference. Little differences in their cadence and how they say it. To us up front it’s not a huge difference.”

Not only will there be a new quarterback under center after two record-setting years of Jordan Lynch, but the offense will look somewhat different thanks to the change – whoever the successor may be.

“We don’t have a quarterback that we can run quarterback power with 30 times per game. I think there have been two in the history of college football that can do it – Lynch and Tebow,” Carey said. “That will not be us. It will be more traditional if you want to use that word, as far as running backs getting more carries and things like that than the quarterback spot.”

Other notes from Carey’s news conference:

• Starting linebacker Jamaal Bass isn’t listed on the depth chart. He’s still recovering from a leg injury suffered last season, but Carey said the injury isn’t serious.

•Rasheen Lemon is listed as the starter at one of the outside linebacker spots, and it’ll be Michael Santacaterina or Sean Folliard at the other. Boomer Mays is the starter in the middle.

Lemon was suspended for most of last season due to an academic issue, but returned for the beginning of camp.

“He’s really knocked quite a bit of the rust off,” Carey said. “And quite frankly, I think his mindset has helped him, he understands that he’s back doing what he loves and that has really made a difference on his mental approach to practice.”

•You’ll see some new faces at defensive tackle. Redshirt freshman William Lee and junior-college transfer Ben Compton are listed as the starters there.

• There’s four true freshmen listed at corner on the two-deep: Mayomi Olootu, Shawun Lurry, Albert Smalls and Tifonte Hunt. This isn’t a surprise at all, and it’s something I’ll be keeping my eye on Thursday.

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