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Sports

Carifio: Might make superficial sense, but not smart for NIU to switch QBs

Northern Illinois quarterback Ross Bowers throws a pass against Ball State on Saturday in DeKalb.
Northern Illinois quarterback Ross Bowers throws a pass against Ball State on Saturday in DeKalb.

Last week, the loudest, dumbest Bears fans were very excited for Chase Daniel playing over Mitch Trubisky.

We saw how that ended. Hot-headed opinions on quarterbacks never end well.

Which is why I broach this with great care. But the NIU football team has lost four straight games and hasn’t beaten an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team this year, hitting a nadir Saturday in a loss to Ball State. The Cardinals hadn’t beaten the Huskies since 2008.

So it’s probably fair game to examine everything, including the quarterbacking.

I definitely think, in a vacuum, Ross Bowers is a better quarterback than Marcus Childers. He’s got the ability to go to deep, adding a threat that Childers proved over two years he lacks.

But again, that’s on paper. There’s nothing like a 1-4 start to get people questioning everything. And a question I’ve found rattling around my head for five days is the possibility that Childers would be a better quarterback for this year’s team.

Start with pass protection. Bowers hasn’t had time to go deep and can’t use his feet to the extent Childers can. So if Childers – who, let’s not forget, was the MAC’s freshman of the year and then led the Huskies to a league title in 2018 – was under center, it seems like he could spark the offense by making things happen by taking the ball and running.

Sure, he can’t throw deep as well, but Bowers can’t really now either through a combination of issues with receivers and protection from the line.

If the offensive line and receiving corps were functioning as the coaching staff imagined, this is a non-issue. But with how the Huskies have been playing for five weeks, it’s tempting to say Childers would be better suited to playing quarterback for this incarnation of NIU.

Despite all that, it’s still best to stick with Bowers. The team and the coaches still think it can be competitive, and obviously Bowers fits the pro system first-year coach Thomas Hammock is trying to run.

It still would be great to see the Wildcat or some other kind of situational quarterbacking switch for NIU with Childers under center. Just a couple of plays a game to switch things up and make defenses stay honest and have to prepare for something else.

But – as much as you can make a case for it, assuming you squint just right – calling for a full-on quarterback switch right now probably would be looked back on in a few weeks in the same way we’re looking back on the Chase Daniel fan club now.

A move championed by the loudest and the dumbest.

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