DeKALB, Ill. – One week away from kickoff of the 2013 season opener at Iowa, the Northern Illinois football team officially “broke camp” Saturday with a 90-minute workout in shorts and helmets at Huskie Stadium.
The Huskies went through their traditional “mock game” practice which included going through the pregame warm-up routine, coming out of the Yordon Center for the team entrance and even going into the locker room at halftime. Every special teams unit, as well as the first and second team offenses and defenses, took the field although no passes were thrown.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey, who completed his first preseason camp as the Huskies’ head coach, said he was pleased with the progress the Huskies made over the last three weeks.
“Overall it was good,” Carey said. “Like every camp, there were peaks and valleys. The guys worked hard and we started to figure out who we are as a football team.”
Carey said several players and position groups stepped up during the preseason, including at running back, linebacker and wide receiver. The Huskies’ lost their top two receivers and two of their three starters at linebacker from last year’s MAC Championship team.
“There were a bunch of guys who came on and I don’t even want to name them because I’m going to forget someone,” Carey said. “I think [running back] Cameron Stingily had a great fall camp. [Wide receivers] Da’Ron Brown and A.J. [Angelo] Sebastiano, and [defensive backs] Dechane Durante and Jhony Faustin all played well. I’m really happy with Rock [Rasheen] Lemon and all the linebackers, and the defensive line is starting to come together.”
Stingily put himself in position to earn carries in the Huskies’ backfield, while Brown and Sebastiano are ready to step into the holes left by the departures of Martel Moore and Perez Ashford. Durante started six games at free safety last year and Faustin, who suffered a broken ankle two springs ago, has returned to the form he flashed as a sophomore and is in the mix for a starting role at cornerback.
Carey said the Huskies will enter game week relatively healthy.
“Knock on wood, we didn’t have anything more than camp injuries,” he said. “I expect everyone who went down during camp to be back and ready for the first game.”
Northern Illinois will not practice today or Monday. Classes begin Monday on the NIU campus and the Huskies return to the practice field on Tuesday.