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The Eastern Echo Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo


Previewing Northern Illinois: The Hare and the Huskies

The Eastern Michigan University football team travels to Northern Illinois University on Saturday, Oct. 24, to try and turn around its misfortunes. Eastern looks to avoid its seventh loss of the season when it travels to Oxford this weekend.  

Carey(ing) Tradition: The Huskies are what many people would call the turning-point program of the Mid-American Conference. In the 2012-13 season, the Huskies did the unthinkable and made it to the Discover Orange Bowl. Many non power-five conference schools dream of making a bowl game as prestigious as the Orange Bowl, but very rarely do they get to experience one.

Rod Carey took the reigns of the Huskies in 2012, and looked to carry the winning tradition for many years to come. Carey has had success in his first two years at the helm, with a 27-9 career record, but has yet to get a bowl victory.

Many coaches from the MAC are trying to accomplish what Northern Illinois has in terms of becoming successful. Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton is among these coaches.

“In some ways we’re trying to model some of the things they’ve done,” said Creighton. “I was talking about it early [in my coaching tenure at EMU] with Joe Novak (NIU head coach 1996-07) and the job that he had done, and what has sustained since his time there.”

Just Hare it Out There: Drew Hare, the starting quarterback for Northern Illinois, has proven he is one of the elite quarterback’s of the MAC. Through seven games this season, Hare has completed 65.6 percent of his passes, going for 1,550 yards. But remarkably, the senior QB has thrown only three interceptions on the season.

The NIU offense is fairly balanced with passing and rushing. The Huskies offense features some of leagues best receivers; Tommylee Lewis might be a name Eagles fans remember from a couple years ago, when Lewis went for 8 receptions and 107 receiving yards in 2013 against the Eagles. Last season, Lewis didn’t play due to injury, but has recovered and is one of the Huskies top go-to guys.

Drew Hare has found another target that fans can expect to see this week. Kenny Golladay leads the team with 40-receptions this season, and 602-yards. That’s about 19 more receptions, and 450 more yards than just about every other wide receiver on the team.

Veteran Defense: Northern Illinois returned a majority of its defensive players from last season. As a team, NIU has complied 13-sacks, and 40-tackles for loss; amounting to 128-yards lost for opposing offenses.

Linebackers Sean Folliard and Boomer Mays have been the core of the NIU defense and have hardly allowed teams to run the ball against them. Between the two of them, they have acquired 57 solo tackles, and 10 tackles for loss.

Shawun Lurry is the heart and soul of the Huskies secondary. Lurry has complied 7 interceptions this season, including the two he had against number one ranked Ohio State University. Lurry has had an interception in all but one game this season.

Homecoming for EMU’s Elite: For many players on this year’s roster, the Northern Illinois game was one that was circled on the schedule. Sounds a little surprising, but some of EMU’s most talented players have come out of the state of Illinois and the Chicago area.

Senior defensive lineman Pat O’Conner stated this was a game he was looking most forward to, being that he is from Chicago. A season ending injury will prevent him from playing in this game but O’Conner still looks to make the most of the trip. Other players making their way back to their home state include Darius Jackson, Jake Hurcombe, Cole Gardner, and many more. All these guys are playing in key roles on the EMU roster this season. 

Eastern Michigan will kick off against Northern Illinois this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. C.T.