DeKALB – Going into the season, Northern Illinois football fans wondered how junior quarterback Jordan Lynch possibly could replace Chandler Harnish.
It certainly was a tough task.
Harnish, now on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, set 30 school records as a 4-year starting quarterback for the Huskies. Last season, he was the Mid-American Conference MVP, throwing for 3,216 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Believe it or not, Lynch’s 2012 season has outdone Harnish’s 2011.
Lynch has accomplished more than anybody could have asked for in his initial year as NIU’s starting QB. He leads the nation with 4,733 yards of total offense, and his 1,771 rushing yards are a Football Bowl Subdivision record for a quarterback. He has 43 total touchdowns.
The Chicago native was the MAC MVP and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
So, how is each QB different?
Before the season, former NIU coach Dave Doeren, who now is at North Carolina State, mentioned how Lynch was an even better runner than Harnish, a pretty high compliment considering what Harnish did on the ground.
At Tuesday’s news conference at the Yordon Center, senior receiver Perez Ashford echoed the same statement. It’s not surprising, considering Lynch’s rushing success is unprecedented for a quarterback. Still, it says a lot knowing how good of a runner Harnish was as a collegiate quarterback.
“I would say Jordan is a lot more athletic than Chandler. Running, breaking tackles and speed-wise,” Ashford said. “Other than that, it’s pretty much all the same. Jordan obviously has learned a lot from Chandler.”
Martel Moore caught passes from Harnish for three years, before closing out his career this year getting the ball from Lynch. He mentioned little differences between the two, such as Harnish’s ability to drop back, lob the ball and throw it on target and Lynch’s ability to throw the ball on the run.
In the end, it was an easy transition from Harnish to Lynch, from a receiver’s standpoint.
“It was a smooth transition,” Moore said. “You had to work out little details about certain things because Chandler and him do throw different.”
Tight end Jason Schepler is another Huskie who’s played a number of snaps with both Harnish and Lynch.
According to Schepler, one thing that stands out about Lynch is just how relaxed he can be out on the field. Schepler said Harnish was the same way, but it’s even more evident with NIU’s current starting QB.
“I guess it didn’t really surprise me that much because that’s how he’s practiced all the time. He’s kind of loose on the field and in practice and stuff,” Schepler said. “When it comes to game time he kind of plays how he practices. So I wasn’t too surprised at it.
“When you’re out there it’s relaxing to know, with all that pressure and stuff at the stadium, to know that he’s relaxed, you’re kind of more relaxed too.”