Meet Northern Illinois football
Chandler Harnish ran the Northern Illinois offense for the past four years.
He threw for 68 touchdown passes and 8,944 yards while running for 24 scores and 2,983 yards during his career with the Huskies. But he graduated last year, passing the torch to junior quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Lynch has embraced the dual-threat quarterback system at NIU. In his first four games, he has rushed for more than 100 yards three times and passed for more than 200 in all but one game.
“Their QB is playing well; they have good offensive skill guys,” Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos said. “We have to take what they do and slow them down. We’re never going to be able to stop what they do. (We have to) slow them down and tackle well. We need team defense and have to be disciplined.”
CMU will travel to DeKalb, Ill. to take on NIU at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Huskie Stadium.
While Lynch is moving the ball for the NIU offense, senior defensive end Sean Progar is leading the defense.
Last season, he was voted second-team All-Mid-American Conference with 52 tackles and 5.5 sacks. This season, he has 19 tackles and one sack for a loss of 12 yards.
“The defense plays fast,” Enos said. “Progar: he returns. He is an all-league guy and one of the better defensive lineman you see in our league.”
The Huskies’ defense is ranked best in the MAC against the pass, allowing 142.5 yards per game in the air. That did not worry Enos, who pointed out the offenses NIU has played have tried to run more than throw. Army was only 1-for-3 passing for eight yards.
Both Enos and senior wide receiver Cody Wilson talked about the defensive speed for NIU.
“It’s NIU for the fourth time (for me), and they are a really tough team … they play fast,” Wilson said. “We gotta be ready to go. They have a quick defense that moves around really well.”
NIU head coach Dave Doeren said he was impressed last week with his team’s resilience. NIU trailed in the fourth quarter and needed a come-from-behind win to beat Kansas and keep alive its 17-game home win streak.
Lynch bounced back in the fourth quarter after he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to give Kansas a 10-point lead. The junior threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to follow, cutting the lead back down to three.
“It was a good game of perseverance,” Doeren said. “The best part of the game was that guys made mistakes in the game and then made plays to win at the end. There was never any panic from anybody.”
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