NIU’s offense lines up against Presbyterian’s defense on Thursday night (photo take by Gabe Salgado/Chi City Sports).
Who knew that Jordan Lynch‘s legacy with the Northern Illinois Huskies would make it so difficult for head coach Rod Carey to choose the teams next quarterback. Matt McIntosh, Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie continue to fight to be the next full-time starting quarterback for NIU Football.
Spring football didn’t decide who won the job, training camp didn’t do it either…. So as a result, coach Carey used all three players in Thursday night’s season opening victory over Presbyterian. McIntosh started the game and played through the first quarter. Hare played the second and the first possession of the third, while Maddie closed out the game from there.
Their performances on the field varied as all three men contributed to the offense. But depending on who you ask, neither man did enough to win the job outright.
You decide, take a look at the stats…
Junior Matt McIntosh-
Passing: 10-of-14, 87 yards, 1 touchdown, 147.2 passer rating
Rushing: 4 carries, 27 yards, 6.8 yards per carry
McIntosh on his performance: “I was most pleased with our execution. And give the defense credit (as) they did a really good job giving us good field position. But there’s always room for improvement….”
My evaluation: McIntosh proved he could be a solid dual-threat quarterback, and he pulled ahead slightly of Ware and Maddie. Perhaps more reps with bigger stats could push him into the starting role full-time.
Sophomore Drew Hare-
Passing: 8-of-13, 100 yards, 1 touchdown, 151.5 passer rating
Rushing: 5 carries, 51 yards, 10.2 yards per carry
Hare on his performance: “I was pretty comfortable coming in with a nice lead. The offensive line was doing a great job moving people, so I had no reason not to be comfortable.”
My evaluation: Hare put up some decent passing numbers, but numbers can be deceiving as most of his passes were short. He can run the ball without a problem, but he needs to take more risks as a passer by showing he can throw deep without hesitation. At the moment, if McIntosh were named the complete starter, Hare is a solid backup.
Sophomore Anthony Maddie-
Passing: 1-of-4, 24 yards
Rushing: 9 carries, 51 yards, 5.7 yards per carry
Carey on Maddie’s performance: “Maddie went in there and did some really good things…… (He) was in a little different spot there at the end because we (the offense) were with the young guys….”
My evaluation: Granted the Huskies decided to run the ball 30 times after Maddie stepped on the field, but he could have made more of his passing opportunities. Some of those run plays were originally designed passes in which the pass protection broke down. One of those plays resulted in a sack.
You can also make the argument that NIU was up 41-0 when Maddie took the ball, but throwing a fair amount of passes is crucial to his development. At the same time, he didn’t show much arm strength when he did throw. Maddie is third string at best for the time being.
So at the end of the day, the players themselves don’t believe that either of them have taken control of the position yet. Carey on the collective performances of all three men: “We came out, no matter what quarterback was in there, and we executed pretty well.”
It could take another week of practice before this position battle is over, but this is an issue that must be put to rest quickly. Next up for the Huskies is a road game at Northwestern (September 6th), a team with a fundamentally sound defense that can be tough to beat at home when their on their P’s and Q’s.
Just one year ago, Northwestern had their own quarterback situation to deal with. Current Wildcats quarterback Trevor Siemian, and former signal caller Kain Colter, shared the starting role and both added their own styles to the position. At the same time, that wasn’t always a recipe for success.
Hopefully Northern Illinois can sort things out sooner rather than later, but in all honesty, it will be fun to watch the development of each player along the way. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82