Football looks to continue winning ways against Eastern Michigan

Cameron Stingily
Cameron Stingily

Rod Carey and the NIU Huskies football team aren’t planning to see many familiar things Saturday when they journey to Ypsilanti.

Eastern Michigan has a new coach – Craig Creighton owns a 2-5 record in his first year leading the Eagles – along with new schemes on offense and defense. There’s also a new turf and, yes, it’s gray.

Plus, Carey says, the Huskies shivered through a temperature of “like minus 15” and “sideways” snow the last time they visited Rynearson Stadium.

Those conditions are unlikely this weekend, when the Great Lakes State forecast calls for a pleasant high of 62 degrees under sunny skies, but Carey and Co. continue to prepare for a tussle from a team that hasn’t lost a home game yet this fall.

“It will be a challenge for us going on the road after being at home for three straight,” Carey says.

EMU has “been in a lot of games, and I think since this new quarterback has taken the reigns since the Buffalo game (that) they’re much more dynamic on offense,” he adds. “Defensively, they have good speed, and in the kicking game, they’re sound. They kick the ball around on their kickoffs. Their return game is solid on both sides.”

Saturday’s #MACtion begins at noon CT. Fans can watch the action on ESPN3 or listen to the play-by-play on 560 AM from Chicago or 92.5 FM from DeKalb.

NIU (5-2) has won the last six meetings with Eastern Michigan and taken the last eight in Ypsilanti.

Drew Hare
Drew Hare

One familiar thing NIU will see this weekend is a quarterback who likes to keep the ball, not only on their own sideline but on the other: Reginald Bell Jr. leads his team in rushing yards.

“They run (Bell) on a couple of different things. They run him on a zone-read scheme, they run him on a power read scheme. They run him some on option, but then they move the pocket around with sprint out and they’ll drop back and quick pass too so they’re a complete offense in everything that they’re doing,” Carey says. “Formations? They have a bunch of them. They’re doing all of the things that you should be doing to stress a defense.”

“Watching him on film, he seems like a pretty good quarterback,” adds defensive lineman Corey Thomas. “He will run with the ball, and he is pretty athletic, so as far as our defense goes, we need to pay attention to our technique and make sure we don’t let him slip out for yards.”

Carey expects his defense, which allowed 41 points in victory last weekend, will return Saturday to what’s expected of them. That includes “getting off blocks, holding our own versus a double-team (and) taking the right angle when we’re coming in for tackles.”

“It’s nothing that’s not correctable,” the coach says. “We have been working since we put this game to bed on Sunday to get a plan in place that will help us correct those. I feel good about that plan. Now we just have to get on the field and work it.”

On the opposite side of the ball, Carey says, running back Cameron Stingily is “probably back more in to that mode where he probably would have been early in the year if he had fall camp. I feel good about where he’s at right now.”

Stingily, who scrambled for 133 yards and a touchdown last week, says he is grateful for QB Drew Hare’s footwork.

“With him being a run threat, I can block for him and let him do his thing, which takes some pressure off of me,” Stingily says. “The offensive line is the most experienced on the field. (Last) weekend they showed that, and I hope that continues for the rest of the year.”

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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