Behind Enemy Bylines: Northern Illinois

The Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Marcel Carrasco, the sports editor of The Northern Star, to preview Vanderbilt’s upcoming game against Northern Illinois.


Photo courtesy Kieffer Crevling | Daily Utah Chronicle.

Max Schneider, Sports Editor

Coming off a tough three-game slate, the Vanderbilt Commodores look to get into the win column on Saturday morning when they host Northern Illinois.

To get an inside look at the Huskies, the Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Marcel Carrasco, the sports editor of Northern Illinois’s student newspaper, The Northern Star, to get some insight into this weekend’s upcoming matchup.

Max Schneider: How is [Northern Illinois Head Coach] Thomas Hammack preparing for this game?

Marcel Carrasco: The Huskies are coming off a bye week which helped them prepare mentally. Playing against power-five programs is more of a mental game. Hammock has stressed how important the bye week was for the team to regroup and recharge, and I think we will see an inspired NIU team make some noise at Vanderbilt Stadium.

MS: Much like Vandy, the Huskies had their own quarterback battle headed into the season, and much like Vandy, the grad transfer won out. What have you seen from Ross Bowers and what does he have to do to win this game?

MC: Ross has been a great leader at quarterback and has embraced his role as the face of the offense. His first game has been a little shaky, but Bowers has proven he is willing to take chances on plays to keep the offense rolling. It’s going to be a tough game for the Huskies, so I think Bowers has to take that next step forward and be the concrete leader, pushing the players in any way possible. The talent is there, it just needs to be guided.

MS: Ke’Shawn Vaughn is coming off a big game with a healthier offensive line. How do you think [Defensive Coordinator] Derrick Jackson will look to limit Vaughn defensively?

MC: The Huskies have faced good running backs in Utah’s Zack Moss and Nebraskas’ Dedrick Mills. Moss, Mills and Vaughn all have between the tackle talent, so the Huskies will look to plug in those running gaps. It will be tough with key linebacker losses, but the guys backing-up will be inspired to perform.

MS: Northern Illinois has been a MAC powerhouse for the past decade. What separates this team from those 12-2 or 11-3 teams a few years back?

MC: The Huskies lack the go to star players like Jordan Lynch or Kenny Golladay. However, Hammock is setting the team for future success. Hammock can only do so much with the players he inherited. In a few years, the Huskies will be back to national attention.

MS: What’s your game prediction?

MC: Huskies come back strong in a back-and-forth offensive feast. NIU wins 31-28. Bowers throws 300 yards and tosses two touchdowns. The ground game struggles, but the running back committee does enough to help by posting 100 yards.