Dec. 28, 2012
Orange Bowl Central
MIAMI - Northern Illinois' second day in south Florida was a little more low-key after the hectic pace of Wednesday's arrival day, capped off by the unveiling of the new game day uniforms in a team meeting late that night.
On Thursday, the Huskies began the day with breakfast, followed by a team meeting and a regular pre-game meeting session that included treatment, special teams meetings and position meetings. By 11:45 a.m. the buses were loaded and headed, complete with full police escort, to practice at Barry University.
NIU hit the practice field at 12:40 p.m. The day was once again sunny and bright with considerably less breeze than Wednesday. With practice completely open to the media for the last time this week, reporters and cameras lined the field. The Chicago Tribune (Fred Mitchell) and Sun-Times (Herb Gould) arrived to cover the Huskies, as did Fox 32 Chicago's Dionne Miller and her cameraman. NBC 5 and Comcast SportsNet Chicago were in attendance as were the Northern Star and Daily Chronicle. Several Miami stations were on hand, as was the Spanish television station Univision. NIU Athletic Director Jeff Compher made the media rounds, visiting with the Miami Herald, the Tribune and Sun-Times, and also Associated Press national writer Jim Litke (via phone).
Following practice, at least 15 Huskie players, as well as three assistant coaches, were requested for interviews by the assembled media. The Northern Illinois players once again handled themselves like professionals, although quarterback Jordan Lynch was puzzled when reporters questioned how "cocky" some of his recent quotes were.
While some reports depicted Lynch as a "trash-talker," the Chicago-an responded that perceived cockiness is simply confidence in his team and his offense.
"We have a good offense, we have a great defense," Lynch said. "We feel we can be in the game. We didn't come down here for all of the activities and everything. We came down for the Orange Bowl to play in it. We're not cocky at all, we're confident. Florida State is a great team, they're physical just like I said, but we're physical also."
While the media, both in south Florida and nationally, apparently expects NIU to come to the Orange Bowl wide-eyed with a "happy to be here" mentality, the Huskies' quarterback, his teammates and Northern Illinois Head Coach Rod Carey reject that attitude.
"We worked for this, we wanted this, and we earned this," Carey said. "Here we are, we're not shying away from it. It's a football game, we're here to win the football game, otherwise what would you be playing the game for? And if it's 100,000 people in the stands or 10 we don't care, our guys like to play the game."
Following practice and the interviews, which also included linebacker Victor Jacques conducting an interview in Spanish with Univision, the Huskies returned to the Fontainebleau where the Orange Bowl had put on a "Family Beach Party" for NIU's official travel party. The festivities had started at 2 p.m. when the guests, coaches' families and all those not required to attend practice hit the beach for food, games and jet ski riding. The team arrived between 3:30-4 p.m. and the line to take one of the six jet skis out on the Atlantic soon stacked up. Each group was allowed 10 minutes on the open seas. Players became acclimated to the water a few minutes into their swims and approximately 80 players took advantage of the jet skis.
One notable exception was Lynch, who was directed by quarterbacks coach Bob Cole to "stay off the jet skis." Lynch complied, and there were no incidents among his teammates. Players who had never seen the ocean prior to Wednesday, including Da'Ron Brown and others were quickly out on it. Guests at the party also had their pictures taken with a sand sculpture created for the occasion.
With the beach party winding down as the sunset, players posed for pictures and headed for the pool, where the fun continued for many. They had the evening free to explore the area, meet up with family and friends, watch film or "hang out" in South Florida.
-- NIU --
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