#34 Northern Illinois Football 2013 Preview

Northern Illinois Huskies

Overall Rank: #34
#1 Mid-American

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Repeating last year’s trip to the Orange Bowl will be a monumental task. The Huskies overcame an opening weekend loss to Iowa and won their next 12 contests, including a thrilling double overtime win over Kent State in the Mid-American Championship game. NIU did not give Florida State much of a game in the Orange Bowl, but getting there was the real accomplishment.

2012 Record: 12-2, 8-0
2012 Bowl: Orange Bowl vs. Florida State (L 10-31)
Coach: Rod Carey (0-1 at Northern Illinois, 0-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Cole
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Niemann

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Lynch, QB, 1,815 yards
Passing: Jordan Lynch, QB, 3,138 yards
Receiving: Tommylee Lewis, WR, 539 yards
Tackles: Jimmy Ward, S, 104
Sacks: Joe Windsor, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Jimmy Ward, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Akeem Daniels, TE Luke Eakes, OL Tyler Loos, OL Aldan Conlon, OL Andrew Ness, OL Jared Volk, LB Jamaal Bass, DT Ken Bishop, CB Marlon Moore, K Mathew Sims

Key Losses: RB Leighton Settle, WR Martel Moore, WR Perez Ashford, LB Tyrone Clark, CB Demetrius Stone, DE Alan Baxter, DT Nabel Jefferson, CB Rashaan Melvin

Quarterback Jordan Lynch shot into superstardom during the magical 2012 season. The junior threw for 3,318 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,815 yards and 19 scores. Lynch was not an experienced quarterback but it certainly did not show. With a year of starting experience under his belt, Lynch is going to have another great season. The offensive line is loaded with experience and giving Lynch time to operate is bad news for every defense in the MAC. Running back Akeem Daniels showed plenty of promise during the second half of last season. On the year he rushed for 447 yards and nine touchdowns. Freshmen Aregeros Turner is a shifty back who could be the playmaker this team needs. Without receiver Martel Moore, who tallied 1,083 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, Northern Illinois will need to find some new playmakers. Tommylee Lewis and Da’Ron Brown are quality, experienced wideouts, but lack the big play ability that Moore possessed. Sophomore Angelo Sebastiano could emerge as that receiver.

The Huskies defense allowed less than 20 points per game, yet that is going to be tough to live up to with so many new faces in the front seven. The line is not nearly as experienced or deep as they were a year ago. Tackle Ken Bishop is a good piece to build around and Joe Windsor can get into the backfield, yet it is unlikely that Alan Baxter and Sean Progar are replaceable. Those two combined for 18.0 sacks. The linebackers have even more concerns. Jamaal Bass was third on the team in tackles with 83 and now he will have to emerge as the leader of the unit. Sophomore Boomer Mays and junior Michael Santacaterina saw some playing time a season ago and will now likely be thrown into the starting lineup. With hardly any experience at all behind them, Mays and Santacaterina have to be productive.

The Bottom Line:
Strong safety Jimmie Ward is a superb talent who led Northern Illinois with 104 tackles and three interceptions. Big hitting free safety Dechane Durante should be fine sliding into the starting role. Corner Sean Evans has plenty of experience and sophomore Marlon Moore is developing into a fine corner and now has some experience to go along with his talent. The potential problem in the secondary is how well they can play if the front four fails to get consistent pressure in the backfield. It is a talented bunch that played very well last season, but they could be tested much more this time around and that will put the pressure on Lynch and the offense to come out on the good side of high scoring shootouts.

Projected Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 238.21 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 231.36 (63, 8)
Total Offense: 469.57 (20, 1)
Scoring Offense: 38.57 (13, 1)
Rushing Defense: 146.36 (47, 3)
Pass Defense: 222.93 (48, 4)
Total Defense: 369.29 (40, 31)
Scoring Defense: 19.86 (21, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.50 (36, 4)
Sacks: 2.79 (17, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.21 (21, 4)


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