NIU Football Team Returns to Practice Field

GO HUSKIES Rod Carey opened his second spring practice as head coach at NIU Tuesday morning.
Rod Carey opened his second spring practice as head coach at NIU Tuesday morning.

March 18, 2014

Spring Football Essentials

DEKALB, Ill. -The Northern Illinois University football team hit the practice field at 7:05 a.m. in the Chessick Practice Center for the start of spring practice Tuesday morning. It was the first of 15 practices for the Huskies, which will culminate in the Huskie Bowl, the team's annual spring game, April 19 at 3 p.m.

NIU worked out for 22 five-minute periods, in the brand new indoor facility. The Huskies spent the first four periods doing special teams, beginning with the field goal unit before moving on to the punt game. The coaching staff worked on the various aspects of the punt game from the snap to alignment for three periods before moving on to some ball security drills. After 10 periods of individual work, there was some pass skelly, team periods and a two-minute drill period to close out the day.

Later that day, Carey, offensive lineman Aidan Conlon, cornerback Paris Logan and tailback Cameron Stingilyspoke at a press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to talk about spring football. Below are excerpts from the press conference.

NIU Head Coach Rod Carey

On playing Northwestern in 2014
"It's good. Just what Sean said right there. We owe a ton to Jim [Phillips] and Coach [Pat] Fitzgerald for putting us on the schedule. I've come to know some head coaches now a year into it and I can't think of anybody I have more respect for than Coach Fitzgerald. It's going to be tough. They're a good team. I know last year is last year for them. They had the injury bug. It's not just a team that's a quality football program he's built that into year in and year out. We would never take anything for granted when it comes to that."

On the quarterback battle
"We practiced this morning at 7 a.m. I could probably say who has the advantage, but I won't tell you guys. I told the staff if they tell you guys, they have to buy bagels for a year. It's not a not telling deal. It really has to play out. We have 14 more practices this spring and 29 more in fall camp before we go into game day. We're trying to put them into as many pressure situations as we can to really find a guy. When you do all that and get into your first game, and everything can change, too. We're going to name a guy. I'm not doing two. I don't do that. We're naming a guy who will be the guy before the first game. We'll go from there. Nothing's set in stone after that."

On what he looks for in leadership from the QB position
"I said it at our banquet last year. Jordan challenged me to be the same guy every day in the office because he was the same guy who came in every day with a good mood. It's the oddest thing I've ever seen from a 22-year-old in my life. It was really pretty challenging for me. I look for that. I said this to the quarterbacks the other day, `Be who you are. If you are grumpy, then be grumpy. That's fine.'"

On possible changes in the offense with a new QB
"They're probably not going to run quarterback power 32 times a game. It has to. It's no different than the change we went through after we lost Chandler [Harnish] to Jordan. When you look at numbers, that's how numbers can lie. We've had that talk before. When you look at the numbers, Chandler's numbers looked a lot like Jordan's. They were completely different how we got there. The journey to those numbers was different. That will be the same with us, too. Offensive football is really, really easy. Get the ball in the playmaker's hands and make plays and do what the quarterback does well. If you do that, then you are going to be okay offensively."

On the difference of the indoor facility this year
"Last year, I was thinking about that driving in. I was sitting at this press conference a little upset at the weather, because we had the big snowstorm. We had to bump it [spring practice] back and that through everybody into a tizzy. We don't have that issue this year. I woke up and I told myself, 28 degrees. That's the breakoff, 28 degrees at 7 a.m. and we're going outside. I had come up with a number. Don't ask me how I got that number. That's the number. It was 24 degrees when I woke up this morning. I called our equipment guy and our DFO, Mike Valentine and Matt Lipman, and I asked them. Of course, they wanted to go inside with our shiny new building. I gave in and by the time I got here, it was 28. Yeah, we went inside. It's really nice, but we'll be outside plenty."

On the advantages of practicing in the morning
"When you're a college kid you think you don't want to wake up early in the morning, you'd want to sleep in. But when you're a student-athlete you rather get up in the morning and get your work done and go to class and then at the end of the day or night- for some guys they don't get home until 7 or 8 p.m., you can relax then. So we set up our whole offseason that way so this just fits in."

On the defensive line this year
"To me it's no different than it was last year. We had to replace everything a year ago on the defensive line. I think this year's defensive line played pretty well. Will also have to replace it all again this year. The difference is that last year we replaced the 2012 group with juniors and seniors last year. Well, this year were replacing those guys with sophomore and freshmen. So the advantages were going to have is that they will hold their roles a little longer and the disadvantage is they're probably a little bit younger. But we practiced with helmets and jerseys today I can't tell you anything about the offensive and defensive line today."

On Akeem Daniels
"Yes he practiced today. We're still going to limit him a little bit but it sure was good seeing No. 3 out on the field. Let me tell you that was fun. He had a smile on his face today. I can tell he was smiling all day. It was good to see him."

On other concerns about certain positions
"I have 22 concerns. All 22 positions, plus a kicker. So I have 23. You're concerned a little less about others, but I'm concerned about them all. It's spring we'll figure it out."

On leaders on the team
"That's the mark of a good program. It's not just one guy or one group or one team, this has been a good program for a long time and the basis of that has been seniors lead. I think we have a good group of seniors that are ready to lead and they have so far. I know for us in this room right now that this is the kickoff to spring football. But you have to remember, 10 days after the Poinsettia Bowl and we sat in this room right here and we talked and got working on it. So they've led pretty good."

On determining who plays over another with equal amount of talent in the same position
"I know that we have any more holes to fill than we did last year at this time. I really don't. I think the numbers, I haven't looked at them, because you know me, I hate them. But I do think the guys that have played significantly is about the same as the transition from last year. So I don't think there are any more holes. The difference is that we don't have Jordan so that's a bigger hole to fill."

On the tie breaker in selecting a quarterback to play
"I have no idea. I don't know. It's different for everybody. I mean it's different when we're choosing a right guard compared to choosing a quarterback. You don't use the same metric to measure. Sometimes you don't even use a metric and sometimes it's a gut feeling. That's why we need to do those things and sit down and figure it out and try to make a good decision and have a good plan. A decision is only as good as the plan. You get a quarterback like Jordan Lynchand put him with a pro-style offensive and tell him to throw a ball 55 times, I mean that's not a real good plan. So make a decision and have a good plan."

On if the quarterbacks having similar skill sets
"The simple answer is no. The real long answer is they're all in about the same category. They all can move pretty good and they all can throw pretty good. I think that McIntosh has the most experience. Drew [Hare] probably, and I'm just flying off the cuff so you can print it, but you can't hold me to this, but Drew throws the ball pretty better and [Anthony] Maddie's got the best quickness around there."

On Tyler Wedel handling all the kicking duties
"You know I don't know yet. Tyler certainly proved that he can handle it. Now handling it and being successful are two different things. So I think he did exactly what we needed him to do last year. Before you ask someone to handle all three things you got to make sure he can be successful. If doing all three hurts him, then you don't do that. You do something else."

On if the Poinsettia Bowl loss made the team hungrier for success
"Yeah the last two years we've lost our last ballgame and that quite frankly terrible. It was good to have spring break last week because I needed to get out of here. I was crabby. You're crabby the whole offseason when you lose the last game. That's just how it is. I mean you might smile here and there, but you're pretty crabby. So I got out of here, took the kids and the wife away a little bit and we recharged the batteries and came back in a little better mood."

On the Huskie Bowl
"The Huskie Bowl will be our spring game. The guys are going to draft the teams. We as the staff will pick the two guys [to coach each team] and then Coach Orht is our commissioner. He comes in and regulates the draft. We don't have any trades so we can't do anything like that. We'll do that about 10 days before the Huskie Bowl early one morning. Then we'll play the Huskie Bowl [April 19]. The same, and I don't remember the rules, that's why I write it down, but it's either seven or nine equal positions each team, minus 25 going in and if there's a tie they will play a true overtime from the 25 going in. And you don't have kicks, you have field flop so if you want to punt of fourth down then you just get the ball and all that."

On the hurry up offensive being rejected
"I love it. By nature they call it offense and defense right? A defense has to defend and an offense has to be offensive. So why would we put anything into a game that would take away what we call each side. That makes no sense to me. So if you're talking about player safety and all that stuff and it is a real measurable thing out there that says that, then you know player safety always comes first. There's not question or no coach in America that would argue with that. When you're talking about the way all that went down, I just didn't understand how something like that could happen so quick and be such a huge change to the game. You're looking at a game where you could possibly be down by three scores in the third quarter and you can't go into a two-minute offense to get back into the game. I mean you guys might turn off the TV and that would be terrible."

On if the team has built a buzz in the community and on campus
"My judge on that is always pretty easy. I live right here, because social media, I don't always understand all of it. I live right here in this town because with the way our community came out and supported us last year, yeah I have to say there is a buzz around here. All of us coaches live in this community. All of our student-athletes live in this community. This is ours and this is theirs. So yeah, there is more of a buzz just based on how it went last year. I'm excited about it this year opening up right before Cornfest, which is wonderful. Cornfest is a huge deal around here and I never get to go because I'm working but my wife goes and she loves it.

"I think it helps both ways. I think the community gets excited about us and the community likes to see a full, you know you like to go somewhere social. The Yard's going to be packed and the stadium is going to be packed. Then our players, they run out and they see a packed stadium. I mean that gives them chills down their spins. They work hard. I think our student-athletes deserve it and I think our community deserves it."

Aidan Conlon, Offensive Line

On how ending the season on a bad note carries into spring practice
"It kind of fuels our fire going into [spring] camp here. It's a bad taste in your mouth. You can't wait for that first game to get a win."

On playing Northwestern early in the season
"I'm from Illinois. I grew up watching the Big Ten, Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Illinois. It's a huge thing to have that reputation of beating the teams in Illinois and being the best in Illinois. That's something we want to do."

Paris Logan, Cornerback

On how ending the season on a bad note carries into spring practice
"This spring, I felt guys took matters into their own hands and did extra work."

On the Huskie Bowl
"Me personally, it was kind of fun going through the draft and the whole process, seeing everybody's name getting picked and people jumping up and down. I felt like it gave us something and motivated us for our last practice."

Cameron Stingily, Tailback

On how ending the season on a bad note carries into spring practice
"I can't speak for everybody, but for me personally I wanted to send the seniors out with a win. So I still have a bitter feeling about it."

On playing Northwestern early in the season
"It means a lot. I always wanted to prove who is the best team in Illinois. We beat Eastern [Illinois] last year, which was an accomplishment. Next year, we get to play someone from a bigger conference and get a chance at a boneyard victory to go out with in my senior year."




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