Northwestern Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Northwestern Wildcats
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Northwestern Wildcats Preview 2006 Further Analysis

1st and Ten – An Ohio sized chip on a little man’s shoulder – After graduating as Mr. Football in Ohio in 2004, Tyrell Sutton didn’t receive a well deserved overture from the Ohio State University where a little man once ruled – Archie Griffin.  But, the game’s changed since the two time Heisman winner piled up yardage on the Columbus campus.  Or, has it?  Well, Ohio State passed on Sutton to the delight of Northwestern fans everywhere, not to mention some very happy coaches and teammates.  After the Cats’ lead back Terrell Jordan went down with a bad hammy, Sutton took the ball and kept running, and running, and running, and running – all the way to one of the best freshman seasons in college football history, actually.  The star from Akron ran for 1,474 yards and 16 TDs, but also added 44 catches to display his run/pass duality and versatility.  In the Wildcats spread look, there couldn’t be a more perfect fit than Sutton.  He’s quicker than a hiccup and has great vision.  He anticipates where the hole is going to be, and when it opens up, he’s gone.  Sutton is on to the second level so fast that linebackers have to scrape so quickly to the hole that they often run past it or don’t even get there.  Just ask AJ Hawk from Ohio State who missed Sutton a couple of times last year in Columbus – man, another Ohio reference, sorry.  With Jordan back healthy and Brandon Roberson returning, Sutton will have an opportunity to get a little more rest, but he also might have the opportunity to team with Jordan or Roberson in the backfield to expand upon his versatility that much more.  Sutton is, arguably, the most electric runner that Northwestern has seen in quite some time, and that does include Darnell Autry and Damien Anderson.  If he continues to run with that passion and fire that he did last year, the Cats should be just fine on offense in 2006.

2nd and Seven – Two Years Ago… – After the 2003 season, did any Northwestern fan, coach or player think that they would miss QB Brett Basanez this much?  All Basanez did in his final year was turn himself into arguably the best QB in the Big Ten and left a huge, gaping hole at this position in 2006.  Basanez was in such control of the Wildcat offense that it was easy to take his pass/run ability for granted.  But, uh, not now.  So, the ball gets handed to either C.J. Bacher, Andrew Brewer or Mike Kafka and the hope is that one of the three will be a close facsimile to Basanez.  Perhaps not this year, but two years from now, well, we’ll see. 

3rd and Three – Papa Roach – With the loss of Tim McGarigle in the middle, the linebacking corps will have to rely upon will backer Nick Roach, perhaps the best athlete on the Wildcat defense.  Roach flashed his athleticism as a sophomore and had a solid year, but was slowed by nagging injuries last year as a junior.  He’s quick and explosive to the ball and could be a key guy in blitz packages to be a factor in the backfield.  At 6’2” and 245, Roach is a physical marvel who explodes through ball carriers, but will have to take more of the leadership role this year.

4th and One – Welcome Back – Although the Wildcats had a fine season last year and gained a great deal of respect nationally, it’ll still be nice to get back two All-Big Ten candidates for this season – Trevor Rees and Bryan Heinz.  Although Rees started out the spring as the number two center, it won’t take him much time to get himself back in the lineup.  He started for two years and was the foundation of the offensive line in 2004, before being knocked out last year due to academic problems.  On defense, Heinz provides a physical presence at strong safety.  He missed all of the 2005 regular season with an ACL, but did make it back for the Sun Bowl.  However, having the 6’2”, 215 pound back in the lineup, for the full season, gives the Wildcat defense another reason to be optimistic in 2006.  Suffice it to say, these two returns will bolster this team’s respective units this season.

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