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Competition Wednesday was Lit!!!
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BDB5yp Offline
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Competition Wednesday was Lit!!!
Enjoy! Go Huskies!!!
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The early days of NIU spring football practice have seen the Huskies operating short of full capacity on the offensive line, but some upstart younger linemen have stepped in to fill the void.

Jordan Steckler and Nathan Veloz have missed time on the field and Christopher Perez is still in a green no-contact shirt with a persistent leg injury carrying over from last season. Others, like redshirt freshman Marques Cox, Benn Olson and Isaac Hawn have stepped in where needed. Austin Warner has also been tasted with playing different spots on the line.

“We’re down three guys. Depth, we’ve got to be smart with the way we practice," coach Thomas Hammock said. "We changed periods around to take care of the line just a little bit. Short numbers on O-line and D-line to be honest with you. But after those guys battled through, we're trying to rotate guys in different spots to get experience when the vets come back in fall camp, we’ll be ready to go.”

Olson took plenty of repetitions at center, while Patton took more snaps at right guard than left guard. Hawn has stood in as the primary guy at right tackle, and redshirt freshman Nolan Potter earned praise from Patton while he filled in as a rotational player at the tackle spots, more so at right tackle.

“We have a group with a lot of experience that has come back, even though there’s some guys out right now," offensive line coach Daryl Agpalsa said. "You talk about Benn Olson, who is in a leadership position who was sick last year. You have Brayden Patton who is doing a heck of a job. Isaac Hawn is doing a fantastic job. I can go on and on. The leadership in that room is fantastic.”

Taking the majority of snaps at left tackle, Cox, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle from Peoria, continues to draw attention from coaches.

“Having the opportunity to be in this conference for the last couple of years, seeing the competition and what other people are playing with, he’s a young football player," Agpalsa said. "This is only his second semester in college, he has a ton of upside and I think he’s hungry and he’s driven and that’s exciting for me as a coach.”

Notables

-Wednesday was a competition day, lively from start to finish and some defensive lineman had to be pulled back some, notably when defensive tackle Weston Kramer plowed over a guard during a team offensive session, which appeared to be a light-hearted reminder to tone the play down a tad. The team used nutcracker (1v1) drills and one-on-one individual sessions to keep the competition going through much of the practice.

"Competition Wednesday gets us juiced up. I love it," Patton said.

-Redshirt junior wide receiver Ryan Gibbons of Park Ridge made a two-handed diving reception on a route down the right hash in one-on-one routes. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Leon Payne of Chicago appeared to take more snaps at wide receiver on Wednesday.

-Tyrice Richie, a junior transfer from Chicago — he played for Dodge City Community College last year — appears to have a connection with quarterback Anthony Thompson, as the duo linked up for several long gains, including a long scoring play over the top on a deep skinny post down the left hash.

"Good to see a throw over the top and score," Hammock said.

“We want to continue to develop the chemistry with the quarterback and wide receiver group and I think we took a step forward in doing that.”

-Kyle Pugh remains in a green shirt coming off shoulder surgery, but is seeing time on team defensive sessions and individual drills.

“He’s doing great. He’s ahead of schedule, but we want to be smart with him," Hammock said of Pugh. "At this point, he’s played enough football here that he’s experienced. He’s getting a lot of mental reps. He’s getting some individual work at the beginning of practice."

-Running back Jordan Nettles looks quicker and showed explosive on runs off tackle and drew Hammock's praise after practice. Mentioned by name by Hammock for good performances Wednesday were WR Richie, RB RB Marcus Jones, WR Dennis Robinson, WR Spencer Tears, CB Jalen McKie.

- Patton addressed a question about replacing experienced linemen like Max Scharping and Luke Shively.

“Losing Max and Shively … they definitely had big leadership on the group last year. Jordan Steckler, (Nathan) Veloz, C.J. Perez, all the older guys, they really stepped up the leadership now. Having them as the leaders, I think that (helps bring) along younger guys that didn’t play as much.”

-With frequent rotations among the safeties and cornerbacks, Hammock is looking for defensive backs to step up their game.

"We’ve got to get a couple guys on the boundary to play well," Hammock said. "Our boundary corners have to be our guy, and those guys have to step up a little bit.”
03-28-2019 06:13 PM
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NIU1981 Offline
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RE: Competition Wednesday was Lit!!!
Kudos to the Chronicle for these great writeups, much appreciated. We can get a temporary subscription for 88 cents by the way, worth it to support the paper in a small way.
03-29-2019 06:12 AM
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BDB5yp Offline
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RE: Competition Wednesday was Lit!!!
5 players get to call out a player they want to battle against. Pretty entertaining to follow on Twitter as they call each other out.
04-03-2019 02:27 PM
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