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The Northern Illinois University Huskies conducted an open practice at Barry University Thursday afternoon in shorts and shoulder pads for approximately two hours and thirty minutes. It was the Huskies second of five practices in south Florida prior to Tuesday night’s Discover Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois will practice at Barry University again on Friday, December 28th at 2:20 p.m. with photo/video availability for the first 15 minutes and interviews at approximately 4 p.m.
Head Coach Rod Carey:
How was practice today?
Not as good as yesterday, it wasn’t as sharp. We did good don’t get me wrong. They know how to work, but focus was at times was lacking today. I have high expectations for this team.
How do you keep the team focus when their routine is changed or altered?
We’ve been talking about this schedule for three weeks so we don’t use that as an excuse. They’ve had [the plan] in their hands so they know what’s coming and we keep going with it all the time.
On Florida State trying to stop NIU’s rush offense and to plan for that.
I would if I were them. We ran the ball 55 times last game so that would just be smart to stop it but we’re going to run the ball anyways.
What makes Jordan Lynch such a good runner?
All good running backs have vision and I think you have to have all the physical tools which he does have. He has great vision, and he’s patient.
On playing a big program like FSU in a big game atmosphere.
We worked for this, we wanted this, and we earned this. 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 be you 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.
On the opportunity for Martel Moore and others to get to the pro level
Well this game will certainly be the first film the scouts will look at. I would if I was them because it’s top level competition. And they’re excited about that, but they’re also not worried about that, they’re worried about the game.
How does preparing for this game as a head coach compare to being a coordinator?
It’s different. I’m the O-line coach and offensive coordinator right now, it’s probably too much but it’s all me that’s changing and that’s what we wanted. If I’m the one changing that’s not a big deal, if we had to change the staff, that would not be good on my part so it’s different.
What’s the underdog role like?
Underdog? What is that? Our kids play with a chip on their shoulder all the time I mean, if we were favored by 21 points I’d be more nervous.
How important is receiver outside blocking to your run offense?
You can’t run if you don’t block but we’ve done a good job with that. Coach [Frisman] Jackson has done an unbelievable job with those guys this year, they have bought into it. The good thing is if you block as a wide-out I’ll send play attack passes your way.
Jordan Lynch – r-JR., QB
On coming to Miami and the Orange Bowl experience
Ever since getting off the plane I felt it started kicking in more and more and getting out here on the field with all of the media
around it’s started to kick in now. It’s pretty big time. It feels pretty special. It was surreal at first, but it’s starting to kick in now and
it feels pretty special.
On Florida State trying to take away the Northern Illinois’ strength in the run game
If they try to take away me and stack the box, we have great playmakers like Tommylee Lewis and Martel Moore. If you take
them one-on-one they can beat press and they can beat man pretty good so whatever they do they have to pick their poison
because we have a lot of weapons on our side.
It’s going to be a great challenge for our offense. Their defense is one of the top in the nation. I’ve already proved myself this
year that I can throw and I guess it’s just another opportunity
On whether he is getting tired of questions of NIU belonging in a BCS game
Yes. I would say so. We’ve racked up 12 straight wins. We went 12-1, we’re in the fourth ranked conference in the nation so I
think we deserve to be in there. I don’t see why not.
On going up against a fast, strong, athletic defense like Florida State
They’re fast, they’re physical, they’re fundamentally sound. They’re going to be in the right place at the right time. We’re pretty
fast on offense ourselves and we’re really confident in the game plan the coach’s put us in the right situations.
On the transition from Coach Doeren to new Head Coach Rod Carey
Everything seems the same with him [Coach Carey] and Coach Doeren. It was a smooth transition. He’s done a great job. Everyone likes to be around him.
On whether Northern Illinois is cocky coming into the game
No, we’re not cocky, we’re confident in what we do. We have a good offense, we have a great defense. 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.
On his style as a running quarterback
I played running back all of my life up until high school and I ran the triple option in high school so it’s pretty much like a running
back. I switched to quarterback my freshman year of high school. I went in there playing running back but, they needed a
quarterback so I guess I gave it a try and I guess it worked out.
Jamaal Bass – r-So, OLB:
Is this a dream come true to play in the Orange Bowl in your hometown?
It’s a blessing! Last year with West Virginia, with [Florida talents] Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, they played in it, so to come
back the following year is a tremendous blessing.
How does it feel to be practicing in the Florida weather again?
I got use to the weather in Illinois, so coming back home is different for me, but I’m enjoying it.
On playing in front of family and friends
Growing up near Sun Life Stadium it’s going to be great, it’s going to be something to remember
How does it feel, being from Miami, to play against Florida State, a team you watched growing up and how does it
You know growing up I was a Miami Hurricanes fan, so I never really liked Florida State, so getting to play against them is going
to be great.
Martel Moore – Sr, WR:
What does it like to be in Miami?
It’s a blessing, for all my family to come from Texas to come see me play last game, it’s great. It’s great to be in Miami and in the
What has this season meant to you?
Stats wise, I’m not the type of person that looks too much into that, I just try to go out there and get the win, that’s what I love. To see the win column is a lot better than seeing the losing column.
How important is it for the wide receivers to block in this offense?
At NIU, if you’re a receiver and you don’t block, you’re not going to play. It’s about blocking and then catching the ball, we learned that as soon as we got to NIU, and stepped on the field. We take blocking as a big challenge for us every game.
Importance of receiver blocking against FSU’s defense
That’s a great thing, we know they fly around the field and Jordan [Lynch] has rushed for 100 yards for 11 games so we want to do that again.
On working with QB Jordan Lynch
It’s a beautiful thing. Every time Jordan throws the ball it’s a great opportunity for me to go catch the ball and make him look better. That’s our job as wide out is to make the quarterback look good so he can get all the shine.
On Florida State taking away the run game and placing pressure on the NIU passing game
Any time we get a chance to throw the ball it’s a great opportunity. Jordan [Lynch] rushed for 100 yards in 11 straight games and they’re going to try and stop that. It’s going to be our job to go and make plays.
We love the one-on-one coverage. We don’t get that much man coverage because of how much speed we have. Of course they have a lot of speed in the secondary so it’s going to be a great opportunity for us.
On getting tired of questions about whether Northern Illinois belongs in a BCS game
I love the question because we get to show it on January 1st at eight o’clock. You always have a chip on your shoulder, especially coming from a conference where we’re at. We’re not even a BCS conference.
Matt Krempel 79 r-JR OL:
Do you still feel that you can be successful running the ball even though FSU will be planning on stopping it?
I think we can definitely be successful running the ball, we have pretty much an option type offense, so with that there are a lot of things that you can try to stop on defense but they’re should always be something open in the run game.
On being able to wear down FSU’s defense
I think that’s one thing we’ve been doing all season with our fast tempo offense and we have a really well conditioned O-line. In our game plan we think our three and four-yard gains will eventually turn into eight and 12-yard gains just by wearing them down.
What have you done to prepare for the step up in talent and play calling you’re going to see from Florida State?
Playing call wise, we’re opening up our play book a little bit more and within the individual positions, we’re focusing more on technique and footwork, especially on the O-line. We hope to cancel out their athletic abilities, movements and all the big things they have going.
Defensive Line Coach Ryan Nielson
On Senior DE Baxter’s success this season leading team in sacks and earning All-MAC honors
His experience, we’ve worked a lot together. Give the guy credit. He’s spent a lot of time studying the tape, doing extra work before and after practice. Doing everything you could ask him to do. As he gets older, he’s matured and had success and success breeds success. He’s just kept working.
On Baxter’s lack of size
The thing about Alan is that he is a very high academic guy. He has one of the top GPA’s on the team so he uses his intelligence when he studies the film. He really details what he is going to see. He plays very hard. He’s a very hard worker, and that combination makes up for the lack of size.
Demetrius Stone - Sr., DB:
On playing in the Orange Bowl in his hometown of Miami
It’s exciting for NIU, exciting for the team, exciting for the NIU students and the NIU program. I’m especially exited for my family for me to come back home and play in front of them. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.
It’s something that you always think about, especially growing up here in Miami, you want to play in the Orange Bowl. We finally got the chance to make it here and we’re going to make the most of it.
On the new game uniforms for the Orange Bowl
It’s nice. It’s nice to get new uniforms going into this big game. It was a nice thing for them to do for us.
Perez Ashford - Sr., WR:
On the importance of the wide receivers blocking for the running game
It’s important. We work on it every day. It’s definitely one of the most important factors we have as a wide receiving corp. That’s our main goal every week against every team. Opening up and getting the running game going is what opens us up to get the ball, so of course we’re going to help in that area of the game. Plus, if you’ve got a good running game, and its working well, especially down the field blocking, it’s hard to stop an offense like that. That’s definitely an important aspect of our offense and receiving corp.
Sean Progar – r-Sr., DE
On what Head Coach Rod Carey is telling the team to get prepared or going up against ACC Champion Florida State
He talks more about us. It’s going to come down to us. Are we going to believe in ourselves and execute what we do. We’re not going to change anything for them. We’re going to come out on defense and hit them in the mouth. We’re quick. We might be a little smaller, but we’re quick, we’re strong and we’re not going to back down on either side of the ball. It’s going to be whether we execute our game plan or not.
On the distinct size advantage that Florida State has over Northern Illinois
They’re definitely big up front, but our D-line has been working hard and our O-line has been working hard. We might be outnumbered in size, but we’re definitely not outnumbered in heart. We’re going to play harder and be technically sound and that will show up on the field.
On the keys to stopping the Florida State offense
The keys are the same as any other game. We have to come out and stop the run. They’re athletic up front and in the backfield. Their quarterback is a good quarterback. He scrambles when he wants to, but he can stand in the pocket too. We watched a lot of their film and they’re not a complicated offense. We believe in ourselves and if we execute our game plan, we should be alright.
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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