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NIU Week 4 mailbag: proper coaching trumps overall success

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Nightmares have turned into reality for Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey.

The thermometer on his hot seat is rising at an alarming rate after dropping the first three games of the season, and fans are becoming restless with the product being put on the field.

Time to open up some Huskie mail heading into Week 4 versus Western Illinois.

What will it take for the NIU administration to fire Carey and bring in a legitimate head coach with a proven ability to recruit? Ever since Dave [Doeren] left for N.C. State, progress has slowed year by year… and we are where we are now. – Rolando V.

This is the most intricate and difficult situation currently revolving around the program. It’s a Catch-22 because one has to either root for a new head coach, or wins — but not both.

Should Carey somehow scrape together six wins and go bowling again, his job is potentially safe for yet another year. Slipping up five or six more times this season, though?

There are two ways to look at this if you’re a fan.

Optimists will look at the first three weeks and blame the daunting midnight kickoff versus Wyoming in Week 1, and continue harping on the overall improvement of both South Florida and San Diego State. The positive folks will also allude to the fact that Carey came in when Northern Illinois was a cog in the MAC, and that expectations were certainly high. Those are two extremely firm, substantial points.

Pessimists will dig deeper to reinforce the claim that Carey, in general, just hasn’t reached his potential on the recruiting trail for NIU. Western Michigan continues to dominate the Midwest while inferior competitors such as Ball State and Miami (somehow) manage to edge the Huskies in landing commits. Long-term point proven — and it’s clearly showing.

Want another successful season? Root for Carey to turn things around in a hurry and start scheduling flights to the Boca Raton Bowl.

Want Carey gone? Sacrifice 2016 and hope for complete turnover to create a new chapter in the Book of DeKalb once 2017 rolls around.

What is NIU going to do to get the ground game going, or are they just going to abandon it? – Doug K.

NIU has the right idea and doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to putting the game solely into quarterback Ryan Graham’s hands. Seven different players recorded a rush on Saturday, and we finally saw a large portion of the carries come from Jordan Huff. The whole ‘jet sweep’ topic has been a hot one; it seems Carey is doing anything he can to find a spark. The underlying theme here is that I don’t know if the trickery stems more from urgency, or desperation.

They said the tight end would be utilized, but no use most of the season. Are they going to utilize in the future? – Chad W.

NIU should be allotting more reps and targets for Shane Wimann, who has been a significant bright spot for the offense. This seems long overdue, especially because offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich, despite overseeing the offensive line at North Carolina State, should have carried over the tight end wrinkle Matt Canada (now with Pitt) utilized with the Wolfpack and David Grinnage for multiple seasons. Perhaps it’s more complicated than that, but this is one of the forgotten-about topics surrounding the offense, especially given that more security blankets for Graham is encouraged.

I heard targeting included hitting a defenseless player at shoulders and above. It would be great to know the rule. It turned the game around Saturday on what appeared to be a sensational sack. – Tom. C

I’m not sure anyone knows the targeting protocol, Tom. Also, is it a coincidence, or just really good timing that these calls emerge at some of the most crucial points of an NIU game? The only thing you can belittle would be the lack of consistency, no matter how ludicrous the rule. The NCAA got it right with allowing review, but still, it seems there is a new, little tweak every time the penalty is called. At this point, all you can do is fold your hands and pray that you’re on the long end of the targeting stick on Saturdays.

Go Carey Huskies team!

NIU Week 4 mailbag: proper coaching trumps overall success

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