The Northern Illinois football team scrimmaged for nearly 90 minutes in full pads Saturday at Huskie Stadium in the most intense day of full contact work so far this spring.
The Huskie offense, especially the first team unit working behind quarterback Jordan Lynch (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel HS), appeared to be in mid-season form early in the scrimmage, before the defense stepped up late to force the offense into field goals in several goal-line situations.
NIU head coach Rod Carey said while he was pleased with the way the Huskies ran the ball, every scrimmage presents a good news, bad news result for the coaching staff.
“They competed well and it looked like we ran the ball pretty good,” Carey said. “There’s always the other side of the coin and that is we didn’t stop the run very well. [Giorgio Bowers and Cameron Stingily] had a good day today. They are lowering their pads and running hard. It was good to get in live situations and this film will be a good learning tool going forward.”
The scrimmage portion of Saturday’s practice began with third and short situations where the offense appeared to have the upper hand. When the Huskies started to “move the ball,” the first team offense quickly scored with Lynch hitting Angelo Sebastiano (Coconut Creek, Fla./ North Broward Prep) from approximately 25 yards out for a touchdown. The defense responded with a pair of stops on drives by the second team offense led by Matt Williams (Geneva, Ill./Geneva HS) and Matt MacIntosh (Evansville, Ind./Reitz HS).
The offense got back on the board as quarterback Drew Hare (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West HS) led the third offense to a field goal after the running backs advanced the ball nearly to the goal line.
Stingily (Romeoville, Ill./Romeoville HS) scored on a two-yard run for the first team offense on the next drive, and Paris Logan (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge HS) picked off a McIntosh aerial that bounced off both Sebastiano and safety Charles Ivory (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) to account for the defense’s lone turnover of the scrimmage.
The defense stopped Lynch and the first team offense for the first time, but Williams came back to score on an eight-yard run to get the offense back on track. Stingily took the ball inside the five with a 45-yard run to set up a Sims field goal. On the last drive of the “regular” play session, Hare hit Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ontario/Culver Academy) for 91 yards on the longest play of the day.
The scrimmage concluded with several red-zone situation periods with the lone touchdown a Hare to Sebastiano connection for 20 yards after kickers Mathew Sims (Hannibal, Mo./Hannibal HS) and Tyler Wedel (McFarland, Wis./McFarland HS) each hit field goals.
The Huskies will hold their Spring Game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Huskie Stadium.
Prior to the game, which will be a scrimmage much like Saturday’s practice, NIU will hold “SpringFest 2013,” a pregame tailgate party featuring live music, activities for kids and food and beverages from local vendors available for purchase, on the West Side of Huskie Stadium. There is no charge to attend SpringFest or the Spring Game, and parking in the lots around the stadium, is free. Promotional materials, including posters and schedule cards, will be available for pick-up. Prior to the game, Northern Illinois will raise a flag commemorating its 2013 Orange Bowl appearance and there will be an on-field ring ceremony.
Season tickets for the 2013 campaign will be on sale at the Spring Game.
The new Huskieland Plan, which includes a ticket to all five home games (sections A and G) and $50 in Doggie Dollars good for parking and/or concessions, is just $50. All remaining season ticket locations for the 2013 Huskie Stadium home slate are just $100 while NIU Alumni Association members, senior citizens (62+), youth (3-13), NIU Varsity Club (former letterwinners) members and faculty and staff can see every game for just $88.
The first “Huskie Bowl” will be played Saturday, April 20, at Huskie Stadium to close out spring practices.
Head coaches Joe Tripodi and Kevin Kane will “draft” players onto the Cardinal (Tripodi) or Black (Kane) teams and the staff, except for coordinators Bob Cole and Jay Niemann, will be split between the two squads. Throughout the final week of practice, the staffs will coach their teams in preparation for Saturday’s Huskie Bowl. Cole and Niemann will work with the offense and defense, respectively, for both teams. For extra incentive, the winning Huskie Bowl team will enjoy a steak dinner, while the losers will eat hot dogs and beans.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.