The Northern Illinois football team got back to the business of bruising Sunday in their first full contact practice of the season.
The players were excited to get back into the pads and start playing football again.
“Any day we have a lot of juice, but I feel like there is more juice when we put the pads on,” junior defensive end Herlandez Corley said. “This is actually football. We weren’t running around in shorts. We are actually hitting hard, we are running to the ball, we’re trying to make plays. So I feel like there is a lot more excitement and energy in the air.”
Huskies coach Rod Carey was also excited to get a look at his team in full contact action.
“I think you learn a lot. I think you learn who pushes through and who doesn’t and that’s a big time telling thing,” Carey said. “Football is played with pads. It’s not played in seven on seven, it’s not played in just helmets. It’s played in pads. It’s big men moving other big men.”
After last year’s disappointing third-place finish in the MAC West with a 5-7 record, the team is ready to get going on a new year.
“It’s a great feeling (being in full pads). Obviously we had a rough year last year. It’s great for us to finally get to work and get this taste out of our mouth,” senior tailback Jordan Huff said.
Putting the full pads on helps the coaches determine who is going to play a role in the upcoming season.
“You get a chance to see football. Instead of technique, you get to see technique plus physicality. You take both those things and grade them. That moves the depth chart around,” Carey said.
With no starting quarterback named, Daniel Santacaterina, Ryan Graham and Marcus Childers split time with the first and second teams.
“I don’t like a rotation ever. It’s the best way we know how to get an evaluation. Get some equal reps working with both the first and the second units. Now, we’ll go and sit down. We might let it go a little longer. We might start rearranging it a little more. It’ll probably stay the same at least until I watch some film,” Carey said.