Can Northern Illinois stay competitive now that Jordan Lynch is no longer their quarterback?
With the amount of talent he brought to the team and the leadership he gained over two years as the Huskies starter, it will be a tall task to overcome. Northern has proved in the past that overcoming adversity is a strength for Huskie football. Some wondered if the program could overcome the exit of Chandler Harnish after the 2011 season? Over the next two years, Lynch lead the Huskies to 24 wins and two bowl games.
Lynch will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play for the Northern Illinois Huskies, if not the greatest. There have been many good quarterbacks in NIU’s past, just no one at Lynch’s level. In just two season’s he led the Huskies to a 17-1 record against MAC opponents, winning the MAC Championship in 2012. His lone conference loss came to Bowling Green in the 2013 MAC Title Game.
In 2012 he helped the Huskies bust the BCS by having a 12-1 record and getting a trip to the Orange Bowl against Florida State. He got the attention he deserved in 2012 by finishing seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. He backed that up in 2013 by finishing third in the Heisman vote, becoming the highest finishing MAC player in the Heisman vote.
In Lynch’s two years as starter he threw for 6,030 yards and 49 touchdowns and gained 3,735 yards rushing with 42 rushing touchdowns. In 2012 he rushed for 1,815 yards, breaking Denard Robinson’s single season record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. He then topped his own record in 2013 rushing for 1,920 yards.
In 2013 he broke the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback with 316 yards. Later in the season he would break his own record by running for 321 yards on November 26.
In 2012, he broke the NCAA record for most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with 12. Averaging 137.1 yards per game in 2013, he broke the NCAA record for most rushing yards per game by a quarterback.
Lynch won the MAC MVP in 2012 and 2013 along with being named to the second team All-American, All-Purpose in 2012 and first team All-American, All-Purpose in 2013.
On Monday I asked Jordan about how he felt NIU would do this season, “They’re going to do just fine, they got a great coaching staff with head coach Rod Carey, offensive coordinator Bob Cole and defensive coordinator Jay Niemann,” Lynch explained.
The Huskies now have three quarterbacks fighting for the starting job in Drew Hare, Matt Mcintosh and Anthony Maddie. When I asked Lynch how he felt about the quarterbacks and how they would fare in 2014 he said, “The quarterbacks will be just fine, they have a lot of playmakers around them”
Northern will have one of the top receiving corps in the MAC with the returns of Tommylee Lewis and Da’Ron Brown. They also get back their explosive running back Akeem Daniels, who had to sit out 2013 with a foot injury. the offensive line will also be locked and loaded for 2014 with a possible three to four All-Conference players by the end of the year.
I asked Jordan what helped him when he took over for Harnish that could also help the quarterbacks competing for the starting job this year, “When I was going through the whole deal, my whole thing was just managing the game,” he said. “That’s all they [quarterbacks] really got to do and they will make plays as they go.”
With no 2013 defensive lineman returning in 2014, the Huskie defense will have to fill a major hole. Jay Niemann has lost lineman before and he always seems to have the problem fixed quickly. I asked Jordan for his opinion on the 2014 defensive situation and he said, “Jay is a tremendous defensive coordinator, and they have Jamaal Bass and Dechane Durante on defense. Those guys will figure it out and they will be just fine.”
Yes, the Huskies lost the greatest player in the history of Northern Illinois Football but even that isn’t enough to bring this team down. With the great coaching, experienced playmakers and senior leadership on the Huskies in 2014, there is no reason this team shouldn’t compete for another MAC title in 2014.
featured image via: Jim Rogash/GettyImages