Daily Chronicle sports editor Eddie Carifio and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss the Northern Illinois football quarterback situation and NIU’s season opener at 6 p.m. today against Presbyterian.
Carifio: I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what the main storyline with NIU football is this year.
So let’s just cut right to it – who is going to be under center today when the game starts against Presbyterian, how much time will each play, and how long will this free-for-all last?
Nitz: I think you’ll see NIU operate like an NFL team does during the preseason. If I had go guess, I’d say Matt McIntosh gets the most time, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie played as well.
The schedule works out well for the Huskies’ current situation.
This will be the final test for all three quarterbacks, and a decision will be made for the Northwestern game Sept. 6.
What are your thoughts on this whole situation?
Carifio: I don’t know much about coach Rod Carey and how much he likes to play games, but to an outside observer this looks like he’s trying to not tip his hand to Northwestern in Week 2.
If NIU is serious about getting the Group of Five playoff spot, beating Northwestern is almost a requirement.
And what better way to give yourself an advantage by not having a starting quarterback announced? I would get the feeling that you are exactly right – the three get somewhat equal time, but I’ll be anything it is a very vanilla offense – especially if the Huskies grab any sort of a big lead early.
But that’s enough about the QBs. With all this talk about who’s going to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, what is the biggest storyline/player that is being overlooked?
Nitz: I think the defense has been overlooked the past two years. People forget how good the unit was in 2012, and they were solid in second half of games last season until the Mid-American Conference Championship game disaster.
Of course, NIU lost a lot of talent from last year, including San Francisco 49ers first-round pick Jimmie Ward at safety. One guy to pay attention to is senior safety Dechane Durante.
He’s a four-year starter, has had a solid career and has good size (6-2, 193). I’m interested to see if he can take that next step into becoming a real playmaker back there.
Carifio: So given all this, how do you see the Presbyterian game going? I think it will be a lopsided NIU win, let’s say 38-10. After all, this was a 3-8 FCS school last year.
Nitz: Last year’s FCS opponent, Eastern Illinois, gave NIU a big scare. But that team had Jimmy Garoppolo, who was drafted by the New England Patriots, and made a nice playoff run. Presbyterian has not been a good program.
I’ll say: NIU 42, Presbyterian 14.