Huskies thrilled for New Yearâs Day game versus Seminoles
Count Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher among those sports fans dismayed by the trash talk thrown NIUâs way after the Discover Orange Bowl bid came in Sunday evening.
âThat team had an unbelievable football year. You look at the teams theyâve beaten, and the things theyâve done â theyâre a great opponent. Theyâve had a tremendous year,â Fisher said at a Tuesday news conference in Florida that also featured new NIU head coach Rod Carey.
âI donât agree with (the negativity). Itâs disrespectful to Northern Illinois, and we definitely donât think that way,â he added. âWe know what kind of opponent theyâre going to be. Weâve watched the film. We know how they play, the things they do and the kind of football they play.â
Seminole players understand the incredible challenge they will face in trying to stop Huskie QB Jordan Lynch, Fisher said.
âWeâre going to have to have a great team effort. The guy can throw it. He can run it. He has weapons around him, and weâre going to have to be very sound in everything we do. Weâll have to mix things up, give him multiple looks and do different things,â Fisher said.
âWhat an âexpertâ says we donât worry about. Weâve just got to look at the film, play our game and control what we can control,â he added. âWe know one thing. Northern Illinois is going to be ready to play when they get here, and hopefully weâll be ready to play, too.â
For his part, new NIU boss Carey â the two-year Huskie offensive coordinator just took the reins Sunday from former Coach Dave Doeren â said he and the team feel blessed and thrilled to head south for the holiday.
Carey also dispelled the opinions of TV talking heads: âOur team has earned this by going out doing what (we) have to do on the field.â
âWeâre super excited to be a part of this Discover Orange Bowl and to have a great opponent like Florida State,â Carey said.
âTheyâve got tremendous speed, tremendous size. Theyâre well-coached. Their schemes, offensively and defensively, are good. They are an Orange Bowl team when you look at them on film. Thatâs the best way to say it,â he added. âAnd itâs going to be a challenge for us. Weâre going to have to do things right, and do what we do, and feel like weâll have a good opportunity.â
Heâs confident things will go right with Lynch on the field, and heâs just as assured that his quarterback can handle the big stage of a nationally televised New Yearâs Day bowl game.
Lynch, a double-threat on offense, was named the MAC’s most valuable player of 2o12. Heâs in the running for the Manning Award. His name entered the national conversation surrounding the Heisman Trophy.
Even the commentators who couldnât find much good to say about NIU making the Bowl Championship Series were effusive in their praise for the Mount Carmel product.
âI think heâs the same player he was a week ago when we were playing (in the MAC championship). I donât think thatâs going to change. It better not,â Carey said. âHeâs a tough kid. We run him, but he can throw it, too. But that doesnât define Jordan. What defines Jordan is how he leads and the good teammate â and, above all, the good person â he is.â
Careyâs whirlwind weekend began last Friday night in Detroit, where the Huskies earned their second consecutive MAC crown in a double overtime thriller over Kent State.
Saturday, he got the news that Doeren was leaving for North Carolina State. Sunday, he got Doerenâs old job. Later that evening, the Huskies received their Orange Bowl invitation.
âIt didnât seem to happen fast; it did happen fast. Monday morning, it was time to get to work,â he said. âSunday night kind of blended into Monday morning. It wasnât that âwake up and feel fresh.â It was, âLetâs go to work.â â
The new coach said heâs ready to guide the Huskies into the MACâs first-ever BCS bowl.
âItâs like walking down the aisle when I was marrying my wife. You have those last-second thoughts, but those thoughts donât stop you from doing it. Itâs 10 years later, and Iâm (still) married,â Carey said.
âIâm up here today, and Iâm on the shoulders of a lot of great men before me at Northern Illinois and in my life. Dave Doeren would lead the charge of that,â he said. âI owe a lot to him and what Iâve learned from him these last years. Heâs done great things with this team.â