When Drew Hare took over as the Huskies starting QB in 2014, he landed in a pretty comfortable situation. He had the best and most experienced offensive line in the MAC. He also had a proven backfield of Cameron Stingily and Akeem Daniels to lean on. But what he really had going for him more than anythingh where the expectations. More so the lack of them. Following superstar Jordan Lynch, NIU fans' didn't expect a whole lot from whom ever the new QB was going to be.
Hare didn't come to NIU with a bunch of hype or as a highly recruited prospect. He was never really the heir apparent to the position. He was just a young QB in a battle with incumbent junior QB Matt Mcintosh, and the athletic transfer from Western Michigan, Anthony Maddie.
The 2014 season started out with a rotation of the three QB's to see who may win the job on the field. After a lopsided victory over Presbyterian in the season opener, nothing had really been resolved. But in week two at Northwestern, Hare took over for an injured Mcintosh, won the game and never looked back.
Hare wound up having a really good season statistically. He threw for 18 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions while accumulating 2,322 passing yards. As Huskie QB's are known to do, Hare also rang up 900 yards rushing. Pretty solid stats for a first year starter.
But what Hare did best was win games. The newly anointed quarterback led the Huskies to an 11-3 record and won the MAC as a redshirt Sophomore. Something neither of his reputable predecessors Jordan Lynch or Chandler Harnish managed to accomplish. Now with that almost suprise success of 2014 on his resume, Hare now faces expectations in 2015. Pretty big expectations at that. Hare will have those on his shoulders for the first time.
While new faces appear on the offensive side of the ball for NIU, the production will be expected to keep rolling in 2015. In fact, there's improvement at both wide receiver and running back. The concern for this unit is that 60% of the O-line will be new. This could be an early stumbling block. But given NIU's history of success at that position, there's reason to be confident that unit will get it done. Even if it takes a few games for them to get in sync, Hare's mobility should keep the offense racking up first downs and points.
So how have expectations changed for Hare? Passing accuracy. While it's hard to find fault with much of Hare's intangibles: mobility, decision making and ball security, it is fair to say his accuracy was suspect at times. Especially deep down field.
This fact is not lost on Hare or his coaches. It's something Hare has worked on in the off season and through spring practices. Hare has put time in the weight room to build his upper body strength as well as worked on his throwing mechanics. Things that should all help with his ability to connect down field.
It may also help to have a larger body to throw deep to. North Dakota transfer Kenny Galloday is 6'4" and explosive. If these two can build a good rapport, I can't help but to believe that this offense will flourish.
It's Drew Hare's year to take a big step up and meet these new found expectations. He know's it's his team and he is their unequivocal leader. He's had a full off season to work with the first unit. And he has something to build upon that many don't have the luxury of; success. His confidence should be sky high coming into this year. Confidence can be the biggest factor to success for a young QB.
This is a good year for MAC QB's. There's Matt Johnson of Bowling Green, Blake Frohnapfel of UMass, Joe Licata of Buffalo, and Zach Terrell of Western Michigan. All talented guys expecting big things this year. But when all is said and done, Drew Hare may end up the top dog in the conference.