DCFW - Big10 Preview #3 - The Northwestern "Tony Shinns"
Good old Northwestern. You know the school whose students swear you will be working for them at hands of the annual woodshed beating that is placed on them by OSU. Now, it is obvious that there was a hiccup in 2004, but there is, obviously, a different feel with the passing of Randy Walker and subsequent hiring of Pat Fitzgerald to fill the coaching void. Not only did NW bring back one of its own, it brought back an impact player who was the heart and soul of the mid-90s Northwestern defenses. Patty also happens to be the youngest coach in D-I football.
For those not familiar with Northwestern Football, a good description of it is a standing tradition of spread-option football, a scrappy defense, and multi-angled punches to the gnads at any point in the game. Let’s just say that the Northwestern defensive and offensive players have been known to take some liberties in the pile and in the open.
It looks like this year will be no different (hopefully minus the shots to the “boys”). However, this year motivation will come in huge doses, as the team will surely pull together to for the old "win one for Coach Walker routine," which I cant say that I blame them. Tough times lie ahead for that team.
The offense will start and end with Tyrell Sutton. A downhill runner that never seems to go down on the first hit. He is straight from the mold of Mike Hart, but with a little more straight-ahead speed. CJ Bacher will take over for All-World QB Brett Basanez. The sophomore will surely start slowly, but will catch onto the offense..and probably become just as efficient as Basanez was before his departure last year. While it doesn’t look like the NCAA’s #1 Pass Efficiency offense will be back for another spin on the stat-lines, it will definitely have some punch with Sutton carrying the load until the rest of the offense catches up. This will definitely mean that the NW offense will see a lot of 8-9 man fronts until Bacher can prove he is up to the challenge with the standard “dink and dunk” passes that are the hallmark of the NW offense. This will also be made a little tougher as the starting wide receivers Philmore and Johnathan Fields have also graduated leaving a fresh new crop of receivers for Bacher to utilize for 2006.
Mr. Sutton..Life after Basanez is not so much fun.
Defense: The defense will be anchored by two returning starters, Adam Kaedla, Nick Roach, and Marquice Cole. With the loss of McGarigle at middle LB, the NW defense will be missing the services of the all-time NCAA career leader in tackles. Roach, Kaedla, and Cole have starts under their belt, but there are questions abound. Who will the take the second cornerback slot next year? This is the big question that surrounds the defense, as breaking in a new CB in this years’ version of the Big Televen will be a test in attrition and short-term memory. Overall, Fitzgerald and the assistants for NW will have its work cut out for them, but the emotion backing this team with its loss should help out the defense for the first part of the year until the emotional charge wears off.
Special Teams: Senior Punter Slade Larscheid and Senior Joel Howells, returning placekicker will look to improve on a rather inconsistent season for the NW special teams last year. Howells was probably one of the worst placekickers in the league last year, hitting just 2-10 field goals from 40+ yards, which is almost Rivas-like…minus the Joey Bag’O Donuts Fixation. Slade is a senior and, while only punted 10 times for a 38.8 yds/punt average, should bring some consistency to a position that will most likely need it.
Howells doesn't like donuts. Rivas loves donuts. Howells cant kick field goals outside of 30 yards. Rivas Can. Howells...You need to eat brother.
The karma of the cream-puff non-conference schedule is returned with no quarter on the three game stretch of Michigan and Iowa on the road and finishing with OSU at home.
“Fa Show” Wins: New Hampshire, Eastern Michigan, Nevada
Could Go Either Way: Purdue, MSU, Miami, Illinois
“Fa Show” Losses: PSU, Wisky, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State
Projected Season Record: 7-5 (3-5)
Bottom Line: Fitzgerald takes over, but this is a rebuilding year in Evanston.
Team Song for 2006: “A is to B as B is to C” by Boards of Canada
Labels: Big10 Football