HUSKIES BY POSITION: QUARTERBACK LYNCH READY TO GRAB THE REIGNS

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Aug. 23, 2012

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HUSKIE ALL-ACCESS HIGHLIGHTS

From August 10-27, NIUHuskies.com will preview every position on the 2012 Northern Illinois football team - today's feature are the quarterbacks. In addition, sign up for Huskies All-Access to see a video breakdown of every position with interviews and practice highlights. The video will be available within 24 hours after the article is posted. Friday's position group: the offensive line.

DeKALB, Ill. - The 2008 season was the last time the Northern Illinois football program had a significant change at the quarterback position and that was when then-senior Dan Nicholson passed the torch to then-redshirt freshman Chandler Harnish. Now, Harnish, Mr. Irrelevant in the 2012 NFL Draft, has passed the torch to 6'0", 216-pound redshirt junior Jordan Lynch (Chicago, IL/Mt. Carmel).

All Harnish did was become NIU's greatest quarterback of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) era as he led NIU to a bowl game all four years, including wins in each of the last two - Humanitarian Bowl in 2010 and the GoDaddy.com Bowl in 2011. He also led NIU to its first MAC championship since 1983 last season. Along the way, Harnish broke 30 Huskie passing records, earned the 2011 Vern Smith leadership Award as MAC MVP, won The Columbus Touchdown Club's 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, and was a two-time first team All-MAC choice.

Certainly, Harnish will be tough to replace but second-year head coach Dave Doeren groomed Lynch last year as a second-string QB by mixing him in to give Harnish an occasional break. With a full offseason to prepare for the starting job, Doeren feels Lynch is ready to lead the Huskie offense in 2012.

"He's worked extremely hard and has spent a lot of time in the film room," Doeren said of Lynch. "I know he's been waiting for his chance. He had a great spring and a good fall camp. Jordan is ready to go."

Second-year NIU assistant coach and first-year quarterbacks coach Bob Cole will be guiding the quarterbacks unit. Cole, who has served as offensive coordinator at six different universities, will move from wide receivers coach last season back to the position group he's worked the most with over the years. Cole is already familiar with his group, which consists of Lynch, redshirt freshman Matt McIntosh (Evansville, IN/Reitz), and freshmen Drew Hare (O'Fallon, MO/Fort Zumwalt West) and Matt Williams (Geneva, IL/Geneva), and he has high expectations from his talented foursome.

"We'd like [our quarterbacks] to be the most knowledgeable group on the field and know how to manage a football game," Cole said. "Jordan is the only guy of this group that has taken snaps for us before. Probably our biggest concern is bringing these young guys along and getting them ready to play."

With Lynch already having the starting job and McIntosh having the back-up gig, the two rookies Hare and Williams will likely redshirt. Williams is currently designated as third-string and will travel to every road game and Hare is the scout team QB. For Lynch, it's been a patient three-year wait under the tutelage of Harnish for his chance and he is ready to show what he can do.

"I'm really excited to start," said Lynch. "It's been my dream ever since I was little. I ran the show all summer. I`ve been in the film room. I learned a lot from Chandler [Harnish], being his understudy for three years. So I'm ready."

For his career, Lynch has played 22 games, completed 19 of 26 passes (.731) for 179 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 76 times for 608 yards (8.0 yards/carry) and six touchdowns. 362 of his rushing yards and three of his rushing TDs came as a redshirt freshman as he only completed four passes for 13 yards and one TD. His involvement in the passing game increased in his second season as he completed 15 of his 20 throws for 166 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Most notably, Lynch completed all four of his passes for 64 yards, including a career-long 41-yard completion, against Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl last year. With Harnish injured, he led NIU to the go-ahead touchdown, scoring on a three-yard dive.

McIntosh, a 6'1", 197-pounder, redshirted last season but traveled to every game. As a prep, he was awarded the title of Indiana's Gatorade Football Player of the Year and chosen as a first team All-State QB by the Indiana Coaches Association and honorable mention 4A All-State QB by the Associated Press as a senior. He was also named to the 2009 Associated Press and Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 4A All-State squads. McIntosh threw for 5,553 yards on 356-of-559 passing (63.7 percent) with 65 touchdown passes during his prep career and ran for 3,507 yards on 490 carries (7.2-yard average) with 47 rushing TDs.

Williams, a 6'1", 188-pounder, earned Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 7A All-State and Daily Herald Tri-Cities All-Area honors in 2011 and was a two-time Upstate Eight all-conference selection. As a senior in 2011, he threw for 1,451 yards and nine touchdowns on 87-of-152 passing and rushed for 426 yards and nine touchdowns on 78 carries.

Hare, a 6'1", 200-pounder, was named to the Missouri Sports Writers Association All-State and St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro teams after accounting for 3,317 total yards of offense (2,677 passing, 640 rushing) and scoring 31 touchdowns in 2011. Along the way he earned Gateway Athletic Conference South Division Player of the Year and first team all-conference honors as a senior after leading Fort Zumwalt West H.S. to conference and district championships, along with a quarterfinals appearance in the Missouri state playoffs. He completed 72.3 percent of his passes (198-of-274) in 2011 with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

As preseason camp is winding down, the Huskies ran a 24-period practice on a hot move-in day on campus on Thursday. The team wore just shoulder pads and helmets as the Huskies continued to run Iowa scout teams against the first team offense and defense for the second straight day. Practice No. 23 of 24 during preseason camp will take place tomorrow afternoon.

"I thought [practice] was pretty sluggish today," Doeren said. "We've had some better practices. There were some good things - we've made strides in our kicking game today and the pass skeletons were good. It's the hottest day of camp and I think that got to them a bit. We have to come out tomorrow and have a better day."

Tickets for the Sept. 1 NIU-Iowa contest at Soldier Field are on sale to the general public through Ticketmaster, as well as the NIU Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling the Ticketmaster toll-free number at 1-800-745-3000, or in person at any Ticketmaster outlet. The NIU Athletics Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Northern Illinois 2012 football season tickets are on sale now through the NIU Athletics External Office at 815-753-1923 or online at NIUHuskies.com for just $120 for the full six-game Huskie Stadium season. Mini plans, featuring any three Huskie Stadium games, can be purchased for $60, while NIU's new HuskieLand Plan tickets provide a ticket to the home opener versus Tennessee-Martin (Sept. 8), the Kansas game (Sept. 22) and the MAC West rivalry game versus Toledo (Nov. 14) along with $45 in gift cards from Buffalo Wild Wings, Village Commons Bookstore and Hy-Vee.

-NIU-

 

 

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