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Running backs steal the show for Huskies

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 10:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 10:53 p.m. CDT
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman)
H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Northern Illinois' Joel Bouagnon runs past Presbyterian's Mitchell Anderson (75) in the first half on Thursday, August 28, 2014 in DeKalb, Ill.

The questions lit up the mentions column for the HuskieWire twitter account.

“Any word on the quarterback?”

“Who’s the quarterback going to be?”

“Who’s starting at quarterback?”

Those apparently were the wrong questions. Everyone should have been asking, “Just how good is this running back corps?”

The Huskies ran for 424 yards in their 55-3 season opening win against Presbyterian at Huskie Stadium on Thursday. Five of the seven NIU scores came on the ground.

And that was without the services Cameron Stingily, who was the projected started before suffering an unspecified injury that left him sidelined Thursday, and likely for at least three more games.

Thunder and lightning isn’t exactly an original way to refer to a running back tandem, but in the case of Bouagnon and Daniels, it’s is very accurate. At 6-foot-2, 222 pounds, Bouagnon ran for 97 yards on 16 carries, while the diminutive (5-7, 189) Daniels had 118 yards on 15 carries. They had just one combined carry after halftime – a 1-yard touchdown run by Bouagnon, his fourth of the game.

The last person to run for four touchdowns in a game for NIU? Some guy name Jordan Lynch, who did it last year.

“It felt really good,” Bouagnon said of his four touchdown performance. “It was just taking it one play at a time and focusing on the game.”

Now comes the disclaimer. This was against a Blue Hose team that is not very good. Even by Football Championship Subdivision standards. If you were wondering why Sean Frazier and the NIU athletic department spent a week announcing high-profile opponents, this game is the answer. The Huskies get a scant five home games this year, and this is one of them.

Next year has Murray State as the FCS representative, but after that the schedule is open. Hopefully a game like this doesn’t happen again.

But that aside, these running backs still look good. Daniels is fast and can break off a big run. Bouagnon can pound the ball up the middle. And that’s without Stingily added to the mix.

“I was pretty pleased with it,” coach Rod Carey said. “I’m not a numbers guy but ... we rushed for 424. So anytime you do that, that’s a good thing. I’ll see more on the film if we’re moving our feel and doing things like that, but I think we did real good.”

So while the quarterback issue is far from settled, the only question about the running backs is how representative of their season is this game? Obviously they’re not going to pound out 424 yards every week.

Like the quarterback question, and virtually every one surrounding the Huskies, it will be answered next week when the season starts for real in Evanston.

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