The goal of getting back to the MAC Championship game for a seventh straight season begin Tuesday morning for NIU with a 6 a.m. workout at Huskie stadium on a crisp March morning.
No pads yet. No opponent. It’s all about the Huskies trying to improve individually so they can become the team that they want to become.
“In the spring you really start the individual skill development and the process of becoming individual champions in hopes that you can become a championship team,” says NIU head coach Rod Carey.
“I’ve been ready for a while now,” says NIU receiver Kenny Golladay. “I can’t wait until we really get the full effect of things. All the plays installed. Everything going on.”
The Huskies have six starters coming back on both sides of the ball including playmakers like Golladay at receiver, Joel Bouagnon at running back, and cornerback Shawun Lurry who led the nation in interceptions.
Missing from this first practice was starting quarterback Drew Hare. The coaches are being cautious with him as he rebounds from achilles surgery last fall.
“He’s doing a lot of functional things, but he’s not ready today. Now in three weeks I think that’ll be a lot different,” says Carey.
Injuries at the quarterback position plagued the Huskies all last season. The bright side now is the Huskies have four quarterbacks returning who have experience starting games. But Carey made it clear that Hare is the guy when he’s ready to go.
“Drew’s our starter.”
NIU also has a new offensive coordinator in place in Mike Uremovich and a new defensive coordinator in Kevin Kane. Both have had previous stints at NIU.
“Usually when you think you have two new coordinators you think of a really hard transition that is maybe uncomfortable at times for coaches and players and we had none of that this year,” says Carey.
The Huskies will have 15 practices and then wrap up their spring sessions with their annual Huskie Bowl on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m.