Lynch, Huskies arent changing approach for Orange Bowl

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Lynch, Huskies arent changing approach for Orange Bowl

DEKALB -- Several campus buildings were still bathed in celebratory orange lights on Friday even as Northern Illinois University shut down for a holiday break.

But on the Huskie Stadium turf, quarterback Jordan Lynch and his teammates were too busy to notice as preparation continued for next month's Orange Bowl showdown with Florida State.

"It's starting to sink in (and) practices have been going good," said Lynch, the record-setting setting junior quarterback who's guided Northern Illinois to a 12-1 record.

(But) its been kind of crazy since that one eventful weekend -- winning the MAC championship, losing Coach (Dave) Doeren, having Coach (Rod) Carey step in and then getting the Orange Bowl pick," he said.

Attention on Lynch and the Huskies continues to rise since they beat Kent State in double overtime for the MAC title and then crashed the elite Bowl Championship Series party to earn a major berth.

And while notice for the program and university is welcome, Lynch and the Huskies arent changing their approach while preparing for the Seminoles.

Florida State looks fast and physical on defense, from what Ive been seeing (and) they pride themselves on turnovers, he said. This will be the best defense weve played all year.

Well make a few wrinkles here and there on offense, but were going to do what got us here and stick to what we do.

Lynch has been a potent threat as both a passer and runner this season. He leads the nation in rushing (1,771 yards), total offensive yards gained (4,733) and is tied with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for second nationally for points responsible (258).

His rushing total is the most ever for an FBS quarterback, topping the mark of 1,702 set by Michigans Denard Robinson in 2010.

Seventh in Heisman Trophy voting this month, Lynch was the only FBS quarterback this season to pass for 150 yards and run for 150 on four separate occasions. Other top quarterbacks like Manziel, Robinson and three others did it just once this year.

Hes truly one of the best players in the country, Toledo coach Matt Campbell said after the Huskies beat the Rockets 31-24 on Nov. 14 to clinch the MAC West crown. Hes been the essence of consistency...His ability to run the football with such power, yet throw the ball with great consistency and (also) have the ability to sustain that success, a lot of credit has to go to him.

Lynch spent several years as a backup to former Huskie Chandler Harnish -- another quarterback proficient as a passer and runner -- and is quick to credit Harnish as a mentor.

He was always there, he was a big brother always there helping me out, Lynch said. I was his understudy for three years and anytime I had questions he was there to help me.

While the recent ride has been heady for the first-year Huskie starter, there was no certainty hed have a major college chance despite playing for the legendary Chicago-Mt. Carmel program.

As a Caravan senior, he passed for 1,221 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 848 yards in Mt. Carmels triple option attack. He also earned the Lawless Award as the Catholic Leagues top player.

But colleges didnt show a lot of interest. Those that did looked more at Lynchs athletic skills than as a quarterback.

The only school that gave me a chance at quarterback was Northern, Lynch said. It worked out, I guess.

Caravan coach Frank Lenti told then-NIU coach Jerry Kill he was confident Lynch would make a mark.

"When (Kill) asked me about him, I said 'Coach, I can promise you one thing. No one in your program will ever outwork Jordan Lynch,'" Lenti said. "When he steps out on the field, the leadership level rises dramatically."

But to Carey, who will juggle head coach and offensive coordinator duties for the Orange Bowl, leadership is just one of Lynch's qualities.

"He's brought a lot, to summarize is hard," he said. "He a good leader, he's a good person, he's a good teammate. On top of all of that, he's a good player. We wouldn't be talking about none of that if he wasn't.

"But the best thing out of all those is that he's a good person. Guys like to be around him."

Among them is running back Akeem Daniels.

Hes an amazing person, Daniels said. Hes a freak of nature as everyone can tell. He takes me back to my Pop Warner day -- a quarterback back doing things that are unbelievable -- and I just feed off that.

The Huskies were originally set to train at the indoor DeKalb Recreation Center. But skies were clear and temperatures hovered in the mid-40s as Carey opted to switch outdoors for a 90-minute session.

With rain in the forecast for Saturday, Northern Illinois will likely be back indoors. The Huskies are scheduled to train daily through next Thursday, break for Christmas and then reconvene Dec. 26 for an early morning trip to Florida.

For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

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For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

Andrew Ladd’s second stint in Chicago was, in some ways, like his first one.

He had good teammates and enjoyed being around them again. He had nothing but good things to say about the organization that welcomed him here for the second time in his career.

The only difference was the abrupt postseason ending.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Ladd said during Wednesday’s wrap-up interviews. “You bring your family here and move your whole life. You want to make a run for it, make it worthwhile. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.”

Ladd’s stay with the Blackhawks is likely to be a brief one. They traded for the veteran, who was part of their 2010 Stanley Cup team, figuring he could be a key piece for another run. It wasn’t to be. Ladd had a quiet postseason, recording just two points in the Blackhawks’ seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues.

“It was a tight series, could’ve gone either way and that’s life,” he said. “You move on. Just happy to have the opportunity to come back and be a part of this group again.”

Ladd has reached that point in his career where he can look at the big picture. He’s won two Cups, one with the Blackhawks and the other with the Carolina Hurricanes. His family grew by another member earlier this month; Ladd brought his his son Walker Gordon, born April 14, home on Tuesday.

“It was a good day after what happened in St. Louis,” Ladd said. “It kind of put things in perspective when you can come home and take your mind off everything else.”

As for Ladd’s continuing hockey career, he said it’s not about getting the lucrative contract anymore as much as it’s about playing for a winner.

“I think I’m at the point in my career where I can make decisions based on being in a good situation. At the end of the day it’s not all about money for me. It’s about being in a good place for my family and being on a team that’s going to contend every year,” Ladd said. “You’d be crazy not to want to be a part of this group and this organization. We’ll see what happens.”

Chances are the Blackhawks and Ladd will not be together in the near future. The Blackhawks are once again facing a salary-cap crunch and, if there is a high-priority signee for them, it’s Andrew Shaw. Even that possibility is a tough one.

Still, Ladd’s not ruling anything out. Ladd’s latest playoff run with the Blackhawks was much shorter than he or they would have liked. But the Blackhawks have the pieces to contend again, and Ladd wouldn’t mind being a part of it.

“Every guy’s at a different point in his career in terms of what he wants to accomplish, whether he has a family or he’s getting on later in his career and wants to be part of a contender,” Ladd said. “There are a lot of things that go into that. You evaluate that individually and try to make the best decision possible for yourself and for your family. At the end of the day, you try to do whatever’s possible to be a part of a group and an organization like this.”

Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

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Jon Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

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Jon Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Aaron Blair

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.