DEKALB, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Northern Illinois head football coach Thomas Hammock will be looking for more production from senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi Saturday in the Huskies’ home opener against Southern Illinois University.
Lombardi did score the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard keeper last Saturday that lifted NIU to a 27-24 overtime win at Boston College, but Lombardi completed ony 45 percent (13-29) of his passes for 165 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass. It wasn’t the type of performance you expect from a seventh-year senior.
“Yea, Rocky needs to play better,” said Hammock Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “I think he’ll be the first person to tell you that, and now he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is good. He’s our leader on offense. We believe in him, and we’re going to continue to give him opportunities to throw the ball.”
Hammock says most of Lombardi’s issues in the opener were mechanical.
“When you look at the tape it was really all mechanics. His feet were bad in situations, so (if) you clean up those mechanics he hits on a lot of those throws.”
Hammock says Lombardi’s slow start could also be partly the result of some season opening jitters.
” We can say all we want. We can say he’s a seventh year senior, but still you have some nerves and some anxiousness that come with playing the game of football which I’m sure he experienced. I mean not outwardly, but inwardly I’m sure he had some of those jitters.”
“I know he’ll settle down this week. He’ll be what we think he can be. He had a great training camp. One game will not define him.”
The Huskies’ home opener Saturday against SIU will kickoff at 2:30 p.m.