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Northern Illinois Week 3 mailbag — San Diego State

Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

When it rains, it pours.

Northern Illinois is 0-2 and on the cusp of dropping the first three games of the season. The team also found out starting quarterback Drew Hare will be sidelined for an extended period of time with a leg injury. Gazing into Week 3, a majority of the fan base prefers head coach Rod Carey’s head to be plunged onto the pointy end of a wooden spear.

Needless to say Huskie fans are far from content — and it’s only mid-September.

To shake off the rust and kick up the dust, we decided a Facebook mailbag with NIU Huskies Fanatics was a proper remedy to sooth the uneasiness in DeKalb prior to the home opener versus San Diego State.

Here’s what we got:

Final point spread before Saturday?Ken Z.

Nothing like kicking off the questionnaire with some sharp number analysis, but why not?

The ‘books opened the Aztecs as 10-point favorites over NIU, and come Tuesday evening, the number had moved to 10.5. Too many points to lay on the road? Not necessarily. San Diego State’s coming off a Week 2 win versus a good Pac-12 team offense in Cal. Oddly enough, most perceived SDSU’s victory as an upset, but it wasn’t — the Aztecs were laying a touchdown at home.

Unfamiliar situation? You bet. Under Carey, the Huskies haven’t been ‘dogs at home over his four years under the headset. Couple the public catching wind that Hare is inactive, with the Aztecs’ “big” win over Cal, and the number could go up even higher. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the spread inflate to 12 prior to kickoff.

Food for thought: Rocky Long and the Aztecs are 1-6-1 against the spread as a double-digit favorite out of conference. A moral victory looming for the Huskies if they keep it close? Perhaps.

Quarterback situation? What if Graham is not any good? – Chad W.

One has to think that Carey will stick with Graham no matter the outcome on Saturday. He was plugged in last season once Hare endured his setback and responded with wins versus Toledo and Western Michigan, so it’s not necessarily uncharted territory for Graham. I’d give it two or three weeks before making a wholehearted assumption of the sophomore.

What’s the uniform variant for the week? They’re cool I’ll admit, but back in the day it was just “home” and “away” unis! And our coffee was “regular” or “decaf”! – Al C.

It’s ludicrous, isn’t it Al?

Regular and decaf to home and away jersey schemes is virtually comparing apples to apples. Then the Oregon Ducks with their 850-odd combos had to burst onto the scene, and sure enough, now we have Guatemalan, Colombian, hazelnut, French vanilla, cinnamon and other exotic caffeinated beverages.

Nothing has surfaced yet regarding Saturday’s threads. Would love the all-red uniforms with black helmet, the same ones NIU sported last year during the homecoming win over Eastern Michigan.

October 24, 2015: Northern Illinois tailback Joel Bouagnon (28) runs around the right side for the Huskies during their game against Eastern Michigan at Brigham Field in DeKalb, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Anderson/Icon/Sportswire)

October 24, 2015: Northern Illinois tailback Joel Bouagnon (28) runs around the right side for the Huskies during their game against Eastern Michigan at Brigham Field in DeKalb, Illinois. (Photo by Chris Anderson/Icon/Sportswire)

Hopefully Hare can support his team on Saturday; even if he is wearing street clothes. – Jenn B.

Hare may have played his last down in a Huskie jersey, but I doubt he’ll be spending his Saturday deciphering whether he’ll be indulging in postgame pleasantries at Fatty’s or Annex the Lord Stanley’s.

That’s a kid who’s had some huge shoes to fill, succeeding Jordan Lynch (who did a pretty fine job of replacing Chandler Harnish) to keep the program afloat. Barring any medical errands, I anticipate Hare will be on the sidelines doing anything he can to make life easier for Ryan Graham, who needs to have confidence playing in his own confines.

Can you ask one of the coaches as to why we don’t see more plays in the backfield involving Huff and Turner since they both seem to be more effective than Bouagnon?Michael M.

Will have to check if the credentials are outdated or not, or else you can expect some barking in Mike Uremovich’s ear all game to relay the message. It’s unsure if this stems from seniority, or just the sole fact that NIU prefers to have that prototypical frame — Bouagnon — in the backfield, but Aregeros Turner especially needs to get involved more.

He’s so lethal when he has the ball in space. His damage primarily comes outside the tackles. You can’t afford to match up with the Aztecs in the box and try to counter with handoffs up the middle all game. Despite Cal running the Air Raid — typical four- and five-receiver sets — the Golden Bears struck, well, “gold” on the sidelines last week. NIU doesn’t follow Cal’s scheme but hey, try to stretch out the defense and get Turner on the outside, and he could be a real X-Factor on Saturday.

Score on Saturday?Don K.

San Diego State benefits from a cupcake-type first half of the season. A road trip to South Alabama and a subsequent home game versus UNLV don’t exactly pose as a liability for the Aztecs to look ahead. I doubt Rocky Long’s club will take NIU lightly, albeit as double-digit favorites.

The Huskie defense has been battered through the first two games even with the numbers being skewed, as in the overtime game versus Wyoming. The first priority, for any team, is limiting Donnel Pumphrey on the ground. Aztecs quarterback Christian Chapman has developed excellent chemistry with receivers Mikah Holder (6 catches, 195 yards, 2 scores) and Eric Judge (9-101), too, so the ability to be two-dimensional is surely there; it’s not only The Pumphrey Show.

As for the offense, NIU needs to get the ball into Kenny Golladay’s hands, as in Week 1. He carved up Wyoming in nearly every aspect and that’ll be the ideal fix for Graham under center.

NIU will keep it close in its first home game, but San Diego State is indeed for real. The Aztecs will show once more on Saturday that last season’s Mountain West title was no fluke.

San Diego State 28 NIU 20

Northern Illinois Week 3 mailbag — San Diego State

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