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NIU backup quarterback makes most of chance

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Lynch posted his second career 100-yard rushing game Northern Illinois' 51-22 victory over Western Michigan Oct.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Lynch posted his second career 100-yard rushing game in Northern Illinois' 51-22 victory over Western Michigan on Oct. 15. | Photo courtesy of Northern Illinois University

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Updated: November 21, 2011 10:36AM

DEKALB — Who’s got next?

That’s always a question that weighs on the minds of college football coaches as they ponder a future without today’s standout player(s). Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren is no exception.

His Huskies are ranked first in the Mid-American Conference in scoring (39.6 ppg) and total offense (482.7 ypg) under the leadership of fifth-year senior quarterback Chandler Harnish.

But what about next year?

While Harnish earned MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season and seventh time in his career after running and passing for more than 200 yards each in Saturday’s 51-22 upset of Western Michigan, Doeren was able to get a good look at the future in the lopsided win.

Backup Jordan Lynch, a redshirt sophomore from Mt. Carmel High School, regularly spells Harnish for a play or two in the NIU hurry-up offense and saw more playing time than usual on Saturday. And just as he did last year when he accumulated 362 yards rushing in a backup role, Lynch showed off his big-play skills for the new coach.

Lynch had 10 carries for 113 yards rushing, the second 100-yard game of his career. It included a 66-yard TD run. Remarkably, in just 57 career carries, Lynch now has four runs of 61 yards or longer.

“I think Jordan would be starting at a lot of schools right now,” Doeren said. “He’s playing at an extremely high level. He has a lot of energy. I love being around the guy. He loves football. He’s a gym rat. He’s extremely athletic.”

That’s no surprise to veterans of the Chicagoland prep scene, who remember Lynch doubled as a standout safety for coach Frank Lenti at Mt. Carmel. In fact, he was team captain of USA Football’s gold-medal winning Junior National Team and played safety.

Last year, Lynch had scoring runs of 81 and 61 yards in two carries in his first 100-yard game at Eastern Michigan. He also uncorked a 90-yard scoring run at home against Buffalo, this Saturday’s road foe.

That run was the longest by a Huskie last season.

“He’s a little faster than Chandler, but not quite as big,” Doeren said of the 6-1, 220-pound Lynch. “He runs the system well and gives us a way to take some of the hits off Chandler at times and keep (Harnish) fresh in the fourth quarter.

“It also gets us ready for life without Chandler for next year, or if there is an injury. Giving Jordan these opportunities, he’s not going to be nervous if it is his turn to play.”

While he’s thrown only 19 passes in his career, completing 13 for 69 yards, insiders say NIU fans will be pleasantly surprised by how good Lynch can be throwing the ball.

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