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NIU

NIU football ready to take on Cornhuskers in Lincoln

NIU Huskies wide receiver D.J. Brown (10) carries the ball against the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb September 9.
NIU Huskies wide receiver D.J. Brown (10) carries the ball against the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb September 9.

DeKALB – Rod Carey has said that with either Daniel Santacaterina or Ryan Graham, the NIU football team runs the same kind of offense.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley agrees.

The Huskies prepare to head to Lincoln, Nebraska for the first time since 1990, to face the Cornhuskers in a battle of 1-1 teams.

"The quarterback, the No. 1 guy has been hurt, whether or not he’ll play we don’t know all that," Riley said. "Either quarterback runs their offense. So it’s not like we’re going to see a different offense"

According to Carey, Santacaterina will be under center for the Huskies, coming off a 252-yard, three-touchdown game in a 38-10 home win against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. He also threw an interception and completed 67.6 percent of his passes. It'll be his third career start.

Junior Tanner Lee will be making his third start with the Cornhuskers – he was also the starter at Tulane in 2014 and 2015. He's averaging 245 yards per game, and is 38 for 83 with four interceptions and five touchdowns passes.

Even though they've passed more than run this year, Carey said there's still a commitment for the Cornhuskers to move the ball on the ground.

"That sets up their whole offense, is how they are going to run and what they are going to do," Carey said. "Sometimes people look at it and say, 'Oh it's a traditional offense' and they kind of dismiss it. They are a dynamic offense is how I put it, because of their different shift tricks, motions, runs, pass plays they have and people executing them."

Tre Bryant has been the main rusher for the Huskers this year, with 51 of the team's 67 carries. He's averaging almost 150 yards per game this year and has scored twice.

Bryant tweaked his knee against Oregon – a 42-35 loss in which they trailed, 42-14, at halftime. In the season opener against Arkansas State, the Huskers trailed early and took the lead at halftime, hanging on for the win. According to the dpeth chart, Bryant will still start.

"Tre just has a knee that we need to take care of that has been going on almost since he arrived here," Riley said. "It’s just kind of who he is, it’s nothing that’s really happened since he’s been here but his knee is just older than his age. And we know how that goes, right? So we are aware of that and we have from the beginning of camp managed Tre in a way that we don’t overwork him. That thing in the game, the way he was bent, aggravated it. But there was no new injury where something else happened.

If Tre does not play this week then Jaylin Bradley will move into his role and Devine (Ozbigo) will move into Mikale (Wilbon)’s role and Mikale will start the game, and we will do well."

Nebraska allowed 566 yards against Oregon and 463 against Arkansas State.

In addition to preparing for the Cornhuskers, Carey said the team is making practices extra loud this week to prepare for the crowd noise at Memorial Stadium.

"Well, it's going to be loud at practice, you probably won't want to be there," Carey said. "It's going to give you a headache. You just got to put noise on, and operate when you can't hear the entire week. It is not a new thing, it's not the first time ever that we've been in a situation like that. Two years ago obviously Ohio State, Boston College was relatively loud, right up there with Nebraska."

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