The 2014 season ended poorly for the NIU Huskies as they suffered a bad loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl. But for Huskies left tackle Tyler Loos, that bowl game loss was a significant achievement. Significant in the fact that Loos finished the season healthy from start to finish playing in all 14 games.
Loos has had two story lines through out his college career on the Huskies offensive line. The best linemen on arguably the best offensive line in the MAC. And annual victim to devastating leg injuries that have ended every one of his seasons up until the 2014 campaign.
Loos missed the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL. In 2012, he played the first 11 games before a compound fracture of his right leg sidelined him. And in 2013 he managed to play nine games before tearing ligaments in his left ankle and breaking his fibula against Umass.
The 2014 season was going to be a big test for Loos. Not only to see if he could he stay healthy, but how much of his success was because of the elusiveness and great play of star quarterback Jordan Lynch? With Lynch graduated and headed to the CFL to play quarterback, redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare would be the man Loos had to protect.
As it turned out, both questions would be answered loud and clear. Loos played in all 14 games for the Huskies and Drew Hare had a successful first year leading NIU to another MAC championship.
Hare was sacked only nine times in the regular season. That was the lowest total in the MAC. That's even more impressive considering the inexperience a first year starter has when it comes to decision making and getting rid of the football quickly. The Huskies also lead the MAC in rushing yards with 3,288 on the season.
The offensive line is the hardest position to judge how any individual player performed. All five players must function as a single unit to succeed. While the entire Huskie line performed excellent, does it necessarily mean that Tyler Loos performed excellent as well?
With only nine sacks given up in the regular season, I went over the game video and found that only two sacks came from the left tackle side of the Huskie offensive line. Northwestern's Deonte Gibson did get wide around Loos while Hare scrambled out of the pocket and to his right, away from Loos' side, getting round down from behind by Gibson. Then there was the hope crushing sack in Arkansas that ended up going for a Arkansas defensive touchdown, pretty much verifying this might be a long, tough day. But Loos was not on the field for that play. Levon Myers instead was in and was beaten to the inside giving up that sack.
By my best estimation, Loos was responsible for one sack in the regular season. Admittedly, I did not have the video of the season opening game versus the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Northern did give up two sacks that game, but that was well after it was a blow out and in bad weather conditions.
Tyler Loos has good size at 6 foot 5 inches and 302 pounds. He's never been a mauler, but more of a technique player. The question might be whether he has the foot quickness and strength to play tackle in the NFL. But with his health issues hopefully behind him, we may see Loos grow into a more physical player since he will be able to focus on other aspects of his strength other than rehabilitating his legs.