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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Healthier Huskies ready to battle Eagles

Ivan Meza
Then-sophomore running back Antario Brown rushes down the left side of the field on a 35-yard touchdown run on Sept. 1, 2022 (Ivan Meza | Northern Star)

DeKALB NIU football opens its 2023 season against the Boston College Eagles, the Huskies’ first ACC opponent since their 37-19 loss against Florida State University in 2018. 


The Eagles are coming off a 3-9 record last year, including a win against then No. 17 ranked North Carolina State University on Nov. 12, 2022. 

Boston College redshirt sophomore quarterback Emmett Morehead is set to lead the Eagles in their home opener. Morehead took over for Phil Jurkovec in 2022, finishing the season with 1,254 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in five games played. 

Following the 2022 season, former Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2023 NFL Draft. Flowers recorded 78 receptions, 1077 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his final season with the Eagles.

Defensively, Boston College leaves much to be desired. The Eagles allowed the 26th most points-per-game out of all NCAA Division I teams in 2022 with 31.5. 

“And now we answer to go play an opponent in Boston College … I think they have a good team,” said NIU football head coach Thomas Hammock in an NIU Athletics press conference. “I think they’re similar to us from a year ago, they dealt with some injuries.” 


Similar to the Eagles, NIU finished the 2022 season 3-9. Losing redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi played a big role in the down year, as he missed the last eight games of the season due to injury.

Lombardi is poised to make his first start for the Huskies since Sept. 17, 2022 against Vanderbilt University.

Following the 2022 season, the Huskies lost valuable players to the roster. Running backs Harrison Waylee and Jaiden Credle are two notable departures from the lineup, leading to the Huskies taking a more balanced approach between the ground and the air attack.

“I like where the run game is at, but at the end of the day you have to have a balance for the run game to be effective,” Hammock said. “So, to have the quarterback situation we have and the skill we have at wide receiver and tight end gives us the ability to have a balanced offense.”

In 2023, the Huskies’ defense looks to improve on red zone defense after allowing teams to score in 90.7% of all red zone situations.

“One of the things that we have really been working on and making strides towards is our third down in red zone defense,” junior linebacker Jaden Dolphin said. “We struggled at times last year, and I think that this year we’ll see a big improvement.” 

The Huskies and Eagles kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Streaming will be available on ACC network and will be aired on WDKB 94.9 FM, SportsFan 1330 AM and The Varsity Network

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