New Chase Begins For Lynch, Northern Illinois
By Clyde Hughes
It’s been three long months from the Discover Orange Bowl to spring football for Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois.
It's been three months since Lynch helped the Huskies become the first MAC team to earn a BCS bowl bid, only to watch an inspired Florida State defense hold the Mid-American Conference offensive player of the year to his worst performance of the season.
But spring football, like the season itself, starts everything anew. Lynch, with a new head coach, will try to lead the Huskies to their third consecutive MAC championship and maybe even repeat history by making it to another BCS bowl game.
Rod Carey served the last two years as the Huskies’ offensive line coach and run game coordinator in 2012. He became interim head coach for the Orange Bowl when North Carolina State hired head coach Dave Doeren. Carey said Lynch and his team don’t have to look beyond the humbling 31-10 loss in the Orange Bowl if they need a little motivation come August.
“The downfall to that is you become complacent pretty quick,” Carey said of having Lynch and numerous key starters back from successful campaigns. “The beautiful part about that, you look for a silver lining and everything, they were roughed up a little bit in that Orange Bowl. That didn't leave a real good taste in their mouth. That's been a good thing for them to have that taste in their mouth this offseason."
Jordan’s statistics from a year ago are staggering. As a quarterback, he rushed for 1,771 yards, breaking the FBS record for quarterbacks set by Michigan’s Denard Robinson in 2010 (1,701). He still managed to complete 60.2 percent of his passes (237 for 394), throwing for 25 touchdowns against six interceptions.
He tied for No. 2 with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for points responsible for in 2012 with 258. He averaged 364.1 yards in total offense per game, third best in the country while his rushing average of 136.2 per game was fourth best.
Carey acknowledged at a recent spring football press conference those kind of numbers will be hard to top, so he plans on working with Lynch on the little things to make a difference.
"It's pretty hard to do better than he did last year,” Carey said. “To say to a kid, 'Hey, go out there and do better than you did last year,' I don't know that you can do that with a blanket statement. You've got to give him specific, small detailed goals that lead to giving yourself a chance in the fourth quarter. That's what he's about, that's what we're about. That's how we're handling that. You don't look at the big pot. You look at the small thing."
Carey said Jordan’s biggest benefits will be having his entire offensive line back for next season. He said that continuity will pay big dividends over the course of the season.
“I was thinking back to all my time in coaching, all the way down to high school. I don't think I've ever had an entire O-line back,” Carey said. “You may have had four back in different parts of my career. I may have had five guys that played, but not all five starters back like that. It's a unique opportunity is the best way to say it.”
Carey said while Lynch had great success running the ball, his quarterback will need help carrying the load. He said the Huskies will be looking to boost its running attack beyond Lynch.
“In our two losses, what's the common theme? We couldn't run the darn ball,” Carey said. “You've got to be able to run the football. Just because on paper you have guys coming back doesn't mean you can run the ball when you want to run it. That's the key to being a great team. You line up and run the ball when you want to run it, not when you can or you're able to.”
Carey hopes Lynch and Northern Illinois will be running to a third straight MAC title come in the fall.