NIU’s football team faces its biggest test of the season this Saturday night when the Huskies play at eighth-ranked Kentucky.
A healthy Rocky Lombardi at quarterback would help the Huskies’ cause. He went down late in the first half with an undisclosed injury this past Saturday against Vanderbilt. Lombardi left the game and did not return.
NIU head coach Thomas Hammock is hopeful that Lombardi will be ready for action Saturday, but he can’t say for certain right now.
“We got better news than what we anticipated (from medical personnel), so we feel good about where he’s at in his progress that he’s going to be able to make, but we’ve got the rest of the week to figure it out. I can’t answer that question (whether Lombardi will play Saturday) on Tuesday, but we’ve got the rest of the week to figure out how he progresses.”
If Lombardi can’t go Saturday, redshirt freshman Ethan Hampton will be the guy at quarterback. When he took over for Lombardi against Vanderbilt he completed 12 of 19 passes for 124 yards. He threw two touchdown passes. He was intercepted once.
“Saturday Ethan came in and operated the offense at a good level,” said Hammock. “We were able to move. No procedure penalties or anything like that. He got us in and out of the plays, and then obviously in practice he’s continued to work like he’s worked all year. He works it like a starter.”
The Northern Illinois-Kentucky game will kickoff at 6 p.m. CT Saturday. It will be shown on ESPN2.