2013 Northwestern Spring Football Analysis
Northwestern Wildcats 2013 ...
Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
Why To Be Excited: There’s a feeling that Northwestern football is on the verge of taking an even bigger step forward in the near future. The 10-3 season could’ve been much better with late losses to Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan all coming in painful fashion, but for a program that was desperate for a bowl win, coming up with a 14-point win over Mississippi State – take that, SEC – was huge. With state-of-the-art facilities being put together and Pat Fitzgerald’s strongest recruiting class yet, the expectations are starting to grow. This year, with 14 starters returning, another ten-win season is a reasonable goal.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/31 at California
9/14 Western Michigan
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 Ohio State
10/12 at Wisconsin
10/26 at Iowa
11/2 at Nebraska
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/23 Michigan State
11/30 at Illinois
Why To Be Grouchy: The offensive line needs retooling. Most of the top skill stars are back and the defense should be solid, but the line that did such a great job in pass protection and paving the way for the nation’s 19th best ground attack has to find replacements for guard Brian Murloe and tackle Patrick Ward on the left side and guard Neal Deiters on the right. Linebacker David Nwabuisi, end Quentin Williams and tackle Brain Arnfelt are gone from the defense that did a nice job up front.
What Needs Working On: Deep safety help. The Wildcats lost to Penn State after giving up 22 points in the fourth quarter, hurt mostly by quarterback Matt McGloin and a slew of third down conversions. The Cats had Michigan dead until a miraculous 53-yard pass play by the Wolverines set up overtime, and Nebraska was done until Taylor Martinez connected on two big passes on late scoring drives. Ibraheim Campbell returns but fellow safety Jimmy Hall is gone and top corner Nick VanHoose is trying to get healthy.
Non-Conference Games: at California, Syracuse, Western Michigan, Maine
Games Against The Leaders: at Illinois, Ohio State, at Wisconsin
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 9-3
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: at California, Syracuse, Western Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, at Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, at Illinois
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Ohio State, at Wisconsin, at Nebraska
Schedule Analysis: Can the Wildcats build on their success of last season? They’ll have a few challenges early on with a trip to face Cal in Berkeley in Sonny Dykes’ first game at the helm. Syracuse is in a rebuilding mode, but it’ll still be a dangerous home opener and Western Michigan has the type of offense to be a problem. With Maine coming to Evanston to close out the home slate, and a week off to follow, everything has to be in place for a rough start to the Big Ten season.
Who do you not want to play from the Leaders? Ohio State? Check – that’s the conference opener. Wisconsin? Check – the Cats have to go to Camp Randall the week after. Beating Minnesota and winning at Iowa could be vital with a trip to Nebraska to follow. The week off couldn’t come at a better time with home games against Michigan and Michigan State to follow before closing out with the rivalry date at Illinois.
Team Concerns For 2013: The passing game has to improve to
counterbalance the ground game. Trevor Siemian was used to try to make the air show more efficient, but it didn't always work. Kain Colter was the more effective overall quarterback. The secondary was young and gets three starters back, but it has to be far better and can't finish last in the Big Ten again after giving up over 250 yards per game and a few really, really big plays to Nebraska and Michigan. The defensive front did a nice job of getting to the quarterback, but it has to make more plays behind the line.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Running backs. It's possible this will turn out to be the best class in the Pat Fitzgerald era. Matthew Alviti will someday be the starting quarterback with the smarts and the quickness to fit the Wildcat offense to a T. In an interesting get, Fitzgerald managed to bring in two of the nation's top center prospects in Brad North and Tyler Lancaster, and snagging safety Godwin Idwebuike and corner Marcus McShepard out of Ohio was terrific. However, after going big on skill players and running backs for the last few years, Fitzgerald and his staff are trying to improve the ground game once again with Keith Watkins out of Ohio and speedsters Warren Long and Xavier Menifield out of California.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
47. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. The last three classes have tried to improve the skill spots, and they’re going to need time to work. Led by a great get out of Pennsylvania – guard Adam DePietro – this could be Pat Fitzgerald’s best class of linemen yet. He’s also getting the best linebacker prospect in his era with Ifeadi Odenigbo out of Ohio, but 2012 is about an O line that should be ready to roll in three years.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 59. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. The Wildcats always get some decent misfits, like Dan Persa, who have the talent but seem to have one minor thing missing. This year, the program got some real, live talents including Zack Oliver, a quarterback out of Baton Rouge with the talent to be the best of the latest strong run of quarterbacks. Running back is a need, and Jordan Perkins, Nick VanHoose, and Trevyon Green will all get their chances right away. Receives Christian Jones and Cameron Dickerson are big targets who’ll be major factors in a few years.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 59. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Receivers.
Northwestern doesn't always get the superstar
talented, but it upgraded the receiving corps with
three good prospects who should shine in the system.
Tony Jones is a speedy target out of Michigan, while
Rashad Lawrence and Venric Mark can also move. The
coaching staff isn't looking to Trevor Siemian and
Kain Colter to replace Mike Kafka at quarterback
right away, but the opportunity will be there this
fall to take the gig. This was a small class of
defensive prospects, but there are some good ones
including linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, an all-star
name if nothing else.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 69. That Class Was
Heavy On ... running backs. It’s never a positive to recruit to fill an immediate need, but that’s exactly what Northwestern had to do with Tyrell Sutton gone and Omar Conteh hurt. The Wildcats need running backs, and it got them led by Arby Fields; a speedy, shifty back who should fit the offense to a T. Mike Trumpy and Davion Fleming might be relied on right away if injuries hit the backfield.