Huskies plan for Manuel


NIU junior quarterback Jordan Lynch stands with his high school football coach and supporter, Frank Lenti. Lenti is the head football coach at Mount Carmel High School.

By Brian Earle

For some teams, game planning for a dual-threat, mobile quarterback can be a challenge. However, this will not be the case for NIU’s defense.

The Huskies’ defense will feel comfortable going up against Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel, as they face their own dual-threat quarterback in practice every day, Jordan Lynch.

Seeing Lynch in practice day in and day out helps the defense prepare for Manuel as they notice similarities between the two.

“Going up against Jordan Lynch, you know you have a great athlete,” said NIU senior defensive back Demetrius Stone. “He can throw it and he can run it. Looking at film on E.J. Manuel, he can do the same thing as well, he’s just a bigger guy; but he can make plays throwing it in the air as well as making plays on his feet.”

Although Manuel has rushed for just 284 yards this season, he is tied for third on the team in carries with 97, showing that he looks to tuck the ball and run.

While Manuel and Lynch are similar in that they are both mobile quarterbacks, senior defensive end Sean Progar said Manuel will not have many designed runs like Lynch does.

“I think it definitely helps us prepare, but at the same time they do different things,” Progar said. “I think a lot of the things Jordan does is designed runs. They don’t design runs that much for [Manuel], except from a few speed option plays. They like to let him drop back and pass the ball a lot and if there’s nothing there, he’ll try and make a play.”

Progar also noticed the running styles of Lynch and Manuel differ in that Lynch will seek out contact while Manuel avoids it.

“They definitely run the ball hard,” Progar said. “They’re both fast, they’re going to get on the edge and take off, but I think for Jordan, he’s going to look for contact, he’s going to try to run somebody over. I think E.J. is more of a finesse guy, he’s going to try to get on the edge and get to the sideline, and if there is someone there he is going to get as many yards as he can and get out of bounds.”

With all the experience the Huskies have against Lynch and the other mobile quarterbacks they played in the MAC this season, they will look to slow down Manuel on the biggest stage they have played on in school history.

“He’s a big time quarterback,” Stone said. “We know that he has the ability to make big plays. We have to go out there and put our game plan together and show what our coaches have prepared us for and to put a stop for whatever they have for us.”