Football starts its 3rd quarterback

By Scott Nicol

DeKALB | The Huskies (0-4) will start their third different quarterback in just the fifth game of the season 2:30 p.m. Saturday when they travel to Muncie, Indiana, to open Mid-American Conference play against the Ball State University Cardinals.

Redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Maddie will be taking the reins from sophomore quarterback Ryan Graham after Maddie came into the game late in the third quarter against Western Illinois University Saturday.

Maddie sparked the offense, leading the Huskies on a 10-play 75-yard drive after being inserted into the game, giving them an opportunity for a comeback.

“When Maddie was in [the game], the offense was much more productive,” Head Coach Rod Carey said at Tuesday’s press conference. “Graham certainly did not play bad. He made the right reads and did the right things; the offense just wasn’t productive with him. In the end, at the quarterback spot, the offense needs to be productive when you’re on the field.”

Maddie, after missing the entire 2015 season for back surgery, converted into a wide receiver over the summer because of depth at the quarterback position.

When redshirt senior quarterback Drew Hare went down for the majority of this season with an ankle and hamstring injury against University of South Florida Sept. 10, Maddie moved back to the quarterback position, Carey said at Tuesday’s press conference.

The Huskies look to win their seventh consecutive MAC West title as conference play opens and have gone 44-4 in the past six years in conference play.

Saturday will be NIU’s only trophy game of the regular season for the ninth annual battle of The Bronze Stalk, a trophy honoring the agricultural regions surrounding both schools.

As winners of the previous seven matches, including a 59-41 shootout victory Oct. 10 last season, the Huskies hold a 7-1 record overall in the battle of The Bronze Stalk, losing only in the inaugural battle in 2008.

Riley Neal, Ball State sophomore quarterback, looks to build on his career day from last season against the Huskies when he completed 31 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs for Neal.

The battle for The Bronze Stalk begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and will broadcast on ESPN 3 as well as WLBK-AM 1360/FM 98.9, AM 560 The Answer for Chicago frequencies and on the TuneIn radio application.