Not only is Northern Illinois Huskies junior left tackle Tyler Loos the best offensive lineman on the team, but he is arguably the best offensive lineman in the MAC. Named to both Phil Steele’s and The Sporting News’ 2013 preseason All-MAC first team, the offensive tackle returns to a team that is fortunate to be returning all five starting linemen.
After tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2011 season, the 6-foot-5, 282-pound Sterling, Ill., native was responsible for protecting quarterback Jordan Lynch’s blind side last season before suffering a broken tibia against the Toledo Rockets in Week 11. As a group, the Huskies’ offensive line paved the way for Lynch and co. to post some dazzling numbers and reach the Orange Bowl.
Behind the offensive line, the Huskies rushed for 238.2 yards per game and 44 touchdowns, good enough for 12th and fifth in the nation, respectively. Through the air, they were able to record 231.4 yards per game and 26 touchdowns, good enough for ninth and tied for fifth in the conference, respectively.
The Huskies had the overall No. 20 offense in the nation, averaging 469.6 total yards per game. They averaged 38.6 points per game, the 13th-best mark in the nation. And it was the offensive line that held opposing defenses to only 17 sacks of Lynch last season, however, they surrendered only eight sacks while Loos was on the field.
While the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are technically responsible for the yards and points, you can’t discredit Loos and the rest of the offensive line. They are responsible for blocking defenders and creating running gaps for Lynch and the running backs in the run game. In the pass game, they must ensure Lynch’s safety from opposing rushers and afford him time for find the open receivers.
The entire offensive line will be expected to be rock solid for the Huskies in their second year together if the team hopes for an encore of last season, and Loos, who sat out spring practice while recovering from his broken tibia, will be expected to be its anchor.
“He [Loos] is back, he’s been cleared and we’re working him back into it,” head coach Rod Carey said during NIU’s media day in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, Aug. 1. “He wasn’t with us all spring, obviously, because he was healing. Now he’s ready to go. So we’re expecting big things from him.”