Y11 Notes: NIU QBs?
Rumor has it that EMU host Justin Lynch's first career MACtion start for Northern Illinois.
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Y11 Notes: Saturday, Oct. 15
NIU’S QUARTERBACK SITUATION: Is it Justin Lynch time?
The question of the week: did Northern Illinois quarterback Ethan Hampton break his wrist last week?
If so, then NIU’s quarterback room will theoretically be down its top two starters.
EMU (4-2 overall, 1-1 MAC) coach Chris Creighton prepared his team for Rocky Lombardi to finally return from injury, but NIU’s so secretive about his status that the best we can do is say that “the rumor is that he’s done for the year.” If he’s out and backup Ethan Hampton is done with a wrist injury, then that means Justin Lynch would get his first career start with Northern Illinois.
Lynch, younger brother of all-time MACtion great Jordan Lynch, has played in three games so far with NIU (11 last year as a true freshman with Temple), he’s run the ball 26 times for 122 yards (4.7 avg.), scored twice, and has thrown the ball zero times. Last year at Temple, Lynch made his first career start after the original starting QB went down with an injury as well and beat Akron by going 19-for-23 passing for 255 yards with 2 TD. The next week against Boston College, Lynch was 17/24 passing, but only picked up 27 rush yards on 21 attempts. For the season, Lynch saw 11 games for the year, went 88/154 passing (57.1%) for 839 yards (5.4 Y/A), 4 TD and 4 INT. On the ground, Lynch had 76 carries for 295 yards (3.9 avg.) and 1 TD.
The Huskies hold a 1-5 record on the year right now, 0-2 in MAC play. Yikes, especially for the defending MAC Champions. To get five more wins and reach bowl eligibility, NIU might have to turn to the legacy quarterback, who wears #5, to help his team turn the season around. The back-half of NIU’s season: at EMU, at Ohio, vs. CMU, at WMU, vs. Miami, vs. Akron — that’s pretty dang favorable for NIU, even on a bad year.
But maybe that’s conceding to the logo on the helmet.
NIU could certainly beat everybody on the schedule if the quarterback of the week plays well and the defense can make some late-season improvements against the pass. It’s not an ideal situation for NIU to come into mid-October with, but on paper, things still look pretty manageable for the Huskies.
As for EMU, the team has no film for what Lynch looks like throwing the ball for his new team. It can see a limited amount of rushes, but that’s it. EMU’s seen enough quarterbacks who run to be able to prepare for Lynch at this point.
This week is the start of, I’d argue, the important three-game stretch for Eastern Michigan this season: home vs. NIU, at Ball State, then home vs. Toledo. Should EMU win its third, fourth, and fifth games in a row, EMU will have all but won the MAC West division with still a month left on the schedule.