Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald 8th 50-39
“In a Word”…effective…The Wildcats biggest challenge this season is replacing three offensive linemen…that isn’t going to be easy…and it should be magnified even more with the bowl win last season, the programs first since a Rose Bowl victory vs Cal in 1949…nine straight losses in postseason bowls. Honestly, other than maybe Mark Brunnell and Billy Joe Hobert back in the early 90’s..I don’t know if I have ever seen a more effective rotating QB system…Kain Colter is as dangerous as a mobile QB can be. He can line up in the slot, at HB or out wide and runs the position well…I was more impressed with ‘passing’ QB Trevor Siemian..I kind of feel a bit bad for guys like him when they get thrown in, the D knows they are going to pass…but Siemian was accurate (he was the most accurate passer I saw last season) and somewhat mobile and usually made the play Fitzy sent him in to make…all things considered, the Cats best weapon is HB Venric Mark..he was the ‘Cats pajamas’…all three of those guys are back as well as some big WR’s…I still think former USC recruit Kyle Prater may be what puts Northwestern over the top…and this may be his year. Overall, this may be the most talented offensive pieces the Wildcats have ever put on the varied green grasses at Ryan Field….
“In a Word”…underrated…seven starters back on the defensive unit and most of which are upfront as Fitzy brings back five and all of his LB’s…a few seasons ago previewing the Wildcats I explained that Pat Fitzgerald had to begin molding his players into the types of player he used to be…he has done that and added more speed. His current LB’s (Chi Chi Ariguzo, Damien Proby and Collin Ellis) are faster replicas of Pat. They fly to the ball and they are very aggressive. The line features DE Tyler Scott who was the biggest surprise on this side of the ball in 2012. The better players and easier to coach prospects are filling more and more spots in Evanston…guys like S Ibraheim Campbell and CB Nick VanHoose who could start for any Big Ten team are really good players. Depth in the secondary and developing another DE to match Scott are the primary concerns this fall…and that is a much different tune than we usually hear from the north side of Chicago.
Northwestern 2013 Schedule
Northwestern is the other Big Ten team (Purdue, and no Penn State opening vs Syracuse in a neutral site doesn’t count) to open the 2013 season on the road. They begin the season at Cal then finish the nonconference slate at home vs Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine. After a bye week, the Cats welcome Ohio State in for homecoming and follow that up with a trip to Madison..then the Gophers travel to Ryan Field…two roadies at Iowa and Nebraska lead the Wildcats to their final bye..they finish with two homers vs Michigan and Michigan State and round out the season at Illinois. The Cats get no breaks from the schedule maker as the crossovers are OSU, at Wisconsin and at Illinois…the Illini would be the only gimme..but you can’t count season-ending rivalry games as gimme’s can you?…I can’t..with this schedule, Northwestern may be one of those teams that actually may be better than they were in 2012, but their record will not show it. Pat Fitzgerald has done a great job of not only keeping the success on the field to that which Gary Barnett initiated, but he has taken it to another level.
Northwestern Could’s, Should’s and Will’s
Northwestern could have the most perfectly placed bye weeks…before Ohio State and Michigan games.
The Wildcats should beat Illinois for the eighth time in the last 11 meetings.
Northwestern will get to another bowl game in 2013.
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