DeKALB – Part of the reason Rod Carey was named Northern Illinois’ 22nd coach Dec. 2 is because former NIU athletic director Jeff Compher thought he would bring consistency and stability to the program.
Monday afternoon, Carey ran his first preseason practice at Huskie Stadium.
A lot has changed since last August, with Carey being just one example. Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, an unknown player nationally last year, is now a star. At each of NIU’s five home games this year, the Orange Bowl banner will hang near the Yordon Center.
But to the players, the transition from one coach to another has gone as smooth as they could have hoped. There were minor changes to Monday’s practice, but Monday wasn’t much different from when NIU took the field for the first time a season ago.
“I can’t say a lot has changed. The program, we’re going to work hard regardless,” junior safety Dechane Durante said. “... The motto is still hard work, we still come out and do the same thing every day. Preparation’s the same. It’s just new faces and new positions.
“As far as players, we still come out here and prepare the same way.”
To Durante, there couldn’t have been a better change when it came to the coach. Dave Doeren, who went 23-4 in two seasons, left for North Carolina State after the team’s Mid-American Conference Championship win, and Carey, who had been NIU’s offensive coordinator, stepped right in.
“I think the transition to coach Carey was the best transition we could’ve had,” Durante said. “Somebody who’s a familiar face being here. So it definitely helped the transition.”
Carey is still looking for his first win. He has a career record of 0-1 after losing 31-10 to Florida State in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Last winter, Carey wanted to turn the page, and didn’t even want his players wearing Orange Bowl gear to workouts.
Right now, everyone’s been focusing on the season opener, which, offensive tackle Tyler Loos said, hasn’t been too hard.
“Our main focus is Iowa, and that’s all that matters right now is to be 1-0,” Loos said.