April 4, 2014
DeKALB, Ill. - The NIU Huskies wrapped up their third week of 2014 spring football practices with a 90-minute workout Friday night at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies scrimmaged for all but 20 minutes of the practice, and NIU Head Coach Rod Carey was pleased with the results.
"They came out and worked well," Carey said. "I was nervous to start because they didn't have a lot of [emotion]. They had more of a `let's get to work' approach tonight, maybe because of the weather. They wanted to get in and get to work."
Once again, the Huskies' three quarterbacks - Matt McIntosh (Evansville, Ind./Reitz HS), Drew Hare (O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West HS) and Anthony Maddie (Plainfield, Ill./Aurora Christian HS) - rotated series. Hare led the offense to a pair of scores during the early part of the scrimmage before all three quarterbacks took the team into the end zone when starting inside the red zone.
Hare hit Devonté Majors (O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West HS) for a first down and Alex Morrow (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood HS) had a big pick-up to set up a Josh Orne (Wales, Wis./Kettle Moraine HS) field goal for the first points of the night, which came on the fourth series. In Hare's next turn under center, the offense scored on an 85-yard drive. Tailback Akeem Daniels (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS) picked up nearly 30 yards to the 40-yard line and Hare then hit redshirt freshman tight end Shane Wimann (Wisconsin Dells, Wis./Wisconsin Dells HS) on the wheel route to the three-yard line. From there, Daniels burst through the line for the offensive touchdown.
The running backs were the story of the scrimmage as Daniels took his first hits in over a year, returning 1,000-yard rusher Cameron Stingily
(Romeoville, Ill./Romeoville HS) burst through the line for a couple of nice runs in traffic and young tailbacks Joel Bouagnon
(Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian HS) and Jordan Huff
(Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal HS) each scored on drives that started in the red zone.
"Akeem and Cameron have to be and will be a big part of the offense," Carey said. "Akeem took his first hits tonight and that was good to see. Cameron got in there some as well and did what he does [run over people]. Alex Morrow got in there as well and had some nice runs."
The offense went three-for-three versus the defense when starting at the 25, as Bouagnon scored on a two-yard run after having a longer touchdown run called back earlier in the drive. Huff ran in from 18 yards out on the next drive and ended the scrimmage with his second TD run of the night. Chad Beebe (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian HS) caught passes to help set up both of Huff's scores.
"Joel and Jordan are both playing very well [this spring]," Carey said. "They are getting a ton of reps and the running back group as a whole is really pushing each other. They are lifting each other up which is great to see."
Carey said he has seen all three quarterbacks improve this spring, although no one has separated himself from the others in the battle to succeed Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch.
"None of the three has separated themselves but I think that's a good thing because all three are improving," he said. "They are all making plays within the system which is what you want to see. It will get worked out and eventually there will be separation."
"We're definitely headed in the right direction."
NIU has now completed nine of its 15 spring practices and return to the practice field Tuesday morning at 7:05 a.m. Spring practice will conclude on Saturday, April 19 with the Huskie Bowl between the Cardinal team led by assistant coach Kelvin Sigler and the Black squad coached by offensive line coach Joe Tripodi set to kickoff at 3 p.m. The Huskie Bowl draft will be held Wednesday, April 9 with the team rosters announced following the draft.
Prior to the Huskie Bowl, fans are invited to get a preview of some of the game day activities planned for 2014 by joining other NIU fans in "The Yard" at Huskie Stadium on the West Lawn. The Yard will be the official pregame tailgate area for all Huskie fans in 2014 and is free and open to the public with food and beverages available for purchase, a Kids' Zone, live music and more.
Fans will also be able to renew their 2014 football season ticket and Huskie Athletic Fund donations, and attend a special postgame reception with the NIU coaches (providing they have renewed).
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