NIU QB Lynch set to make job his own

Northern Illinois junior Jordan Lynch isn’t the same quarterback as Chandler Harnish.

Lynch understands that. Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren does too. They just hope the Huskies’ fans are willing to accept that as well.

“As far as comparisons to Chandler, I don’t that’s fair to get compared to a guy like that,” Doeren said. “I think he’ll write his own script the next few years and then we’ll compare him.”

Lynch’s script will begin Saturday when he replaces Harnish, one of Northern Illinois’ most storied quarterbacks and now an Indianapolis Colts quarterback, when the Huskies face Iowa in their season opener at Soldier Field.

“I’m not going to go out looking to break Chandler’s records,” said Lynch, who is 6-foot and 216 pounds. “I am just going to out go out there and play.”

Lynch may be making his starting debut, but he’s been slowly brought along the last few season to be ready for this day. He saw action in nine games as a redshirt freshman, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for three more. Last season, got more playing time and was 15-of-20 passing for 166 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions while rushing for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

Lynch was given his biggest taste of what it’d be like to be the starting quarterback when Harnish was sidelined with an injury for a drive during Northern Illinois’ bowl game with Arkansas State. In seven plays, he led the Huskies to a touchdown, giving them a 14-13 lead. He was 3-of-3 passing for 69 yards and rushed for three yards and a touchdown on the drive.

“When an opportunity came in the bowl game, he took advantage of it,” Doeren said. “He didn’t flinch at all. I think that’s what excited us the most.”

Doeren believes playing at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago for longtime coach Frank Lenti has helped Lynch be prepared for those big moments. The Caravan reached the state semifinals twice behind Lynch.

“He’s a guy’s guy,” Doeren. “He’s tough. He’s not a pretty-boy-type guy. He’s a real gritty, scrappy guy. You’re not going to have to tell him to run people over. He’s a tough kid. He was coached the right way.”

Doeren stayed away from comparing Lynch to Harnish, but he did admit Lynch was even faster than his predecessor and could be an even bigger threat to run.

“Jordan is a better runner than Chandler,” Doeren said. “Chandler had good speed, but he could be tracked down. Jordan will run away from people. He’s fast. If he gets away, there’s no margin for error.”

Lynch’s debut as starting quarterback isn’t your ordinary one. Being from Chicago, Soldier Field is a special place for him. Plus, he expects plenty of family and friends in the stands. Finally, Northern Illinios is going up against a Big Ten opponent.

“Right off you’re playing Iowa, and it’s in my backyard,” Lynch said. “It’s going to be exciting.”