Losing Jordan Lynch, the Huskies are obviously going to have a different look on the offensive side of the ball this season.
The quarterback who finished third in Heisman voting a season ago is now trying to be an NFL running back with the Bears. That means there'll be a new guy under center in DeKalb, and the upcoming position battle has the head coach pretty pumped.
"Probably the last five years we've had some of the best quarterback play in all of Division-I football with Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch," Rod Carey told CSN's David Kaplan on Wednesday's edition of SportsTalk Live. "It's exciting to find out who the next guy'll be."
But losing Lynch, whose 1,920 rushing yards were the second-most in all of college football last season, won't be the only challenge the NIU offense will have to deal with in 2014, at least in the early going. Running back Cameron Stingily, who was also one of the nation's top-40 rushers with 1,119 yards on the season, will miss the first four games of the season with an injury. It means the Huskies will be forced to replace their two biggest offensive contributors for at least the entirety of a tough non-conference schedule.
But it's not all new faces on offense. Carey is particularly excited about a very experienced offensive line that has been starting intact for each of the past two seasons.
"I know and I've told the guys, the strength of our team needs to be up front on the offensive line," Carey said. "The same five we had starting in the Iowa game in 2012 will be the same five — knock on wood, barring injury — starting our game against Presbyterian. That's a lot of continuity and games under your belt."
It's something that could provide a huge help to whichever quarterback ends up replacing Lynch.
"A little different than the transition with Jordan. When he started in '12, all of those five were brand-new starters, so there was a lot of hesitation there," Carey said. "But it won't be the case for this guy coming in, whoever ends up winning it."