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CFN Take: Northwestern & Siemian Rock Illini
Northwestern Wildcats 2013 ...
Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
Northwestern 37, at Illinois 34
| 2013 Record: 5-7|
8/31 at California W 44-30
9/7 Syracuse W 48-27
9/14 Western Mich W 38-17
9/21 Maine W 35-21
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 Ohio State L 40-30
10/12 at Wisconsin L 35-6
10/19 Minnesota L 20-17
10/26 at Iowa L 17-10 OT
11/2 at Nebraska L 27-24
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/16 Michigan L 27-19 3OT
11/23 Michigan St L 30-6
11/30 at Illinois W 37-34
Basically … Trevor Siemian threw four touchdown passes with Christian Jones catching two of them from 27 and seven yards away, and Rashad Lawrence caught a 23-yarder as the Wildcats scored 14 fourth quarter points on the way to a ten-point lead. Nathan Scheelhaase threw two touchdown passes for the Illini and Josh Ferguson scored from one and 55 yards away in the seesaw battle, but after pulling within three on an 11-yard Miles Osei touchdown catch, the Wildcats closed it out.
- Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian completed 31-of-44 passes for 414 yards and four scores. Christian Jones caught 13 passes for 182 yards and two scores.
- Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase completed 31-of-45 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns and a pick, and he ran 13 times for 55 yards.
- Illinois WR Steve Hull caught 13 passes for 155 yards and a score.
- Northwestern held the ball for 36:23 and amassed 560 total yards
Michigan State 30, at Northwestern 6
Basically … Michigan State won the Legends and secured a spot in the Big Ten championship game with a big day from Jeremy Langford, who ran for scores from 20 and 37 yards out, and was helped by an 87-yard Bennie Fowler touchdown play late in the second quarter. After bungling a drive late in the first half, the Spartans owned the second scoring 16 unanswered points. Northwestern only managed Jeff Budzein field goals from 22 and 20 yards away.
- Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford ran 25 times for 150 yards and two scores, and caught two passes for 35 yards.
- Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian completed 25-of-43 passes for 227 yards, and led the team with 28 rushing yards. Kain Colter was knocked out of the game early with a targeting hit.
- Northwestern was -3 in turnover margin and finished with just 80 rushing yards.
- Michigan State QB Connor Cook completed 16-of-24 passes for 293 yards and two scores.
Michigan 27, at Northwestern 19 3OT
Basically … In a strange and ugly game, Michigan forced overtime with Brandan Gibbons nailing a 44-yard field goal as time ran out following a 16-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon and a hurry-up setup from the Wolverine special teams to set up. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and field goals in the second, but Michigan took the advantage in the third with a five-yard touchdown run and two point conversion from Devin Gardner. Northwestern couldn’t answer with its drive sputtering out after a sack. Gibbons and Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien each hit four field goals with the first touchdowns coming in OT. Kain Colter ran for a one-yard score for the Wildcats, and Jake Butt caught an 11-yard touchdown for Michigan.
- Michigan converted just 3-of-17 third down chances and Northwestern converted 6-of-20 third down tries.
- Michigan QB Devin Gardner completed 24-of-43 passes for 226 yards and a score, and he ran 17 times for 19 yards with a touchdown.
- Northwestern QB Kain Colter ran 19 times for 78 yards and a score, and he completed 4-of-6 passes for 26 yards.
- Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon caught ten passes for 115 yards.
at Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24, Nov. 2
Basically … Nebraska stunned Northwestern on a last-second Hail Mary as Ron Kellogg III’s tipped 49-yard heave was hauled in by Jordan Westerkamp. It was a game of runs, with the Wildcats going up 21-7 on three consecutive Treyvon Green scoring runs before the Huskers rallied with touchdowns from their offense and defense. Northwestern appeared to have secured the win on a Jeff Budzien field goal with 1:20 left, but it wound up simply setting the stage for a miracle finish.
- It was a challenging day for the Nebraska quarterbacks, Kellogg and Armstrong, who combined to go 22-of-42 for 277 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
- Green finished the day with 149 yards and those three touchdowns on only 19 carries.
- Nebraska DB Ciante Evans was virtually unblockable by the Wildcats, with five of his eight tackles occurring behind the line of scrimmage.
- The Wildcats were in a position to win in Lincoln, despite their quarterbacks completing only 8-of-21 throws for 81 yards, no touchdowns and a pick.
at Iowa 17 … Northwestern 10 OT
Basically … Jake Rudock connected with C.J. Fiedorowicz from eight yards out for an Iowa touchdown in overtime, and Northwestern couldn’t answer as QB Kain Colter was stopped short on a scramble. Iowa took a 10-0 first half lead helped by a three-yard Damon Bullock score, but it was all Northwestern in the second half with Colter finding Dan Vitale for a ten-yard score and Jeff Budzein hitting a 29-yard field goal to tie it. The two teams traded turnovers on their final drives in regulation.
- Iowa couldn’t pound away with Mark Weisman, running him just 13 times for 56 yards, but Jake Rudock had a good, effective game completing 19-of-27 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and a pick. The offense sputtered and struggled in the second half, but when needed in overtime, Rudock showed up.
- After breaking up the two-game losing streak, now Iowa is back on track with a huge interdivisional game against Wisconsin coming up and with Michigan and Nebraska still to play. The Big Ten championship appearance is still possible with a little bit of help, but this was a strong win over a team that needed the win.
- The Wildcats can’t use the excuse of not having Kain Colter. He was the only one who threw a pass – Trevor Siemian saw time, but didn’t throw – going 11-of-14 for 104 yards and a score with 60 rushing yards on 18 carries. The defense did a nice job overall keeping Iowa to 305 yards – Chi Chi Ariguzo made 14 tackles with a sack and a pick - but the offense couldn’t find any consistency to the passing game.
- The Northwestern season that looked so promising is now falling into a deep abyss with little ability to get out. Up next? A trip to face an angry Nebraska team that just got waxed by Minnesota. With Michigan and Michigan State to follow, and Illinois to close, a bowl game isn’t a sure thing by any stretch.
Minnesota 20 … at Northwestern 17
Basically … James Manuel returned an interception for a touchdown and Chris Hawthorne hit two field goals as Minnesota stunned Northwestern. The Wildcats struggled with three turnovers, but Trevor Siemian was able to come up with a late ten-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones – Minnesota recovered the onside kick. The Gopher offense got into the end zone in the second quarter on a 29-yard Derrick Engel touchdown run.
- Minnesota might not have been pretty, and the offense might not have rolled, but Philip Nelson completed 8-of-11 passes with a score, David Cobb and the running game was just effective enough to milk the clock and hold the ball for over 35 minutes, and there weren’t any turnovers.
- Northwestern doesn’t have it between the ears. There was talk of not having the energy against Wisconsin, and against an inferior Minnesota team the offense was lifeless. With no Venric Mark or Kain Colter, there’s no pop – the ground game ran for just 94 yards.
- And now Northwestern is in big trouble. At 4-3 with three Big Ten losses, the Legends title hopes are gone, and with road games at Iowa and Nebraska up next, and Michigan and Michigan State to follow, it could be really, really tough to find a few wins before closing out at Illinois.
- Minnesota might not be very good, and there might not be any pop to the passing game, but without its head coach and with everything going south over the last few weeks, it’s still 5-3 and one win away from going bowling. This might not have been a turning point game, but it’s going to turn out to be very, very important.
at Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 6
Basically … Jared Abbrederis caught a 63-yard touchdown pass and Melvin Gordon tore off a 71-yard touchdown run as Wisconsin jumped out to a 21-3 lead and coasted the rest of the way. Northwestern came up with just 241 yards of total offense and two first half field goals from Jeff Budzein. The Badgers scored 14 unanswered points in the second half on two short touchdown passes from Joel Stave.
- This went beyond merely running over a decent opponent at home; Wisconsin absolutely dominated. There were too many mistakes with three turnovers, and the ground game didn’t work all that well early on but the defensive front destroyed the Northwestern line. The front seven looked quicker and refreshed with two weeks off.
- It took a little while for the running game to get moving, but with Jared Abbrederis out with an apparent concussion, Melvin Gordon (172 yards and a score) and James White (101 yards and a touchdown) took over. But this was a win for the Badger defense with Chris Borland leading the way with ten tackles and one of the team’s seven sacks. Wisconsin was in the backfield all game long.
- Kain Colter was hurt early on, and while he came back, he eventually left the game with a leg injury. Venric Mark ran three times before he was knocked out for the game. Trevor Siemian was shaky, completing just 13-of-34 passes for 163 yards, but he was always under pressure getting sacked five times.
- How quickly can Northwestern get it back? After two demoralizing losses to the Leaders, it has to get to work on the Legends. The big boys don’t come up for a few weeks, but getting by Minnesota with ease is a must. Ohio State might have been tough, but this was a disaster. Nothing worked, but the team needs a short memory.
Ohio State 40, at Northwestern 30
Basically … Carlos Hyde took over in the second half, running for three touchdowns and powering Ohio State past the Wildcats. Northwestern had the lead in the fourth quarter after Trevor Siemian’s second touchdown pass of the game, but Hyde and the Buckeyes took over with a punishing scoring drive, finishing up with a seven-yard scoring run, and the defense held with NU QB Kain Colter fumbling a fourth-and-short snap and being held just shy of the first down. The Buckeyes scored in the first quarter on a blocked punt, and the defense got into the act as time ran out falling on a fumble in the end zone.
- Ohio State got tough when it had to. Braxton Miller struggled a bit, and the offense didn’t move like it needed to in the first half, but Carlos Hyde came up with a brutish, blasting performance with 168 yards and three touchdowns, and he also did a nice job on some key short passes with four catches for 38 yards. There was nothing finesse whatsoever about the Buckeyes with the game on the line.
- The good: Jeff Budzien nailed all three of his field goal attempts for Northwestern. The bad: Jeff Budzien attempted those attempts from 23, 29 and 32 yards out. The Wildcats had chance after chance deep in Buckeye territory and had to settle for three instead of seven. OSU was wobbly, and NU couldn’t land a knockout punch.
- The Wildcats couldn’t get Venric Mark or the running game going. Ohio State was able to close down the Wisconsin ground game, and it held NU to just 94 yards on 43 carries. The longest run was just eight yards. Linebackers Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant were terrific.
- Kain Colter was fantastic and the two QB system for NU worked great. Trevor Siemian completed 13-of-18 passes for 245 yards and two touchdown passes, but he threw a key pick. Colter completed all 12 of his throws for 98 yards, he caught a nine-yard touchdown pass, and he ran eight times for 16 yards and a score.
at Northwestern 35, Maine 21
Basically … Northwestern’s offense didn’t bring it’s a game, being, but the defense picked up the slack with a 49-yard interception return for a score from Damien Proby in the second and a 19-yard pick six from Dean Lowry in the third for a 21-0 lead. Kain Colter threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones early to start the scoring, and he ran for a five-yard touchdown in the fourth to put the game away, but Maine provided a push with two Marcus Wasilewski touchdown passes and a ten-yard scoring run from Nigel Jones.
- This is the second game in a row when the offense didn’t quite click like the coaching staff might have liked. The Cats were allowed to be conservative with the defense playing so well and with a big lead, but it was like pulling teeth to come up with scoring drives. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian combined to completed 10-of-17 passes for 12 yards and a score with a pick, and Colter ran for 38 yards and a score, but for the most part, they were fine, but not spectacular.
- With Ohio State up in two weeks, the defense appears ready. Chi Chi Ariguzo made 12 tackles with a tackle-for-loss, while the run defense was tough allowing just 107 yards and a score. The two interceptions for scores set the tone early, and while the fourth quarter was a little loose, the sense of urgency wasn’t there. The D played well when it had to.
at Northwestern 38, Western Michigan 17, Sept. 14
Basically … Northwestern overcame a sluggish start to roll up 24 second quarter points and a 31-10 lead helped by a four-yard Kain Colter touchdown run and a four-yard scoring pass to Christian Jones. Western Michigan hit on a few big plays, getting a 75-yard touchdown catch from Cory Davis and a 25-yarder from Josh Schaffer, but two Treyvon Green touchdown runs, including a 42-yarder in the fourth, put it away.
- Northwestern was sleeping and it still won easily. Kain Colter completed 6-of-7 passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, but his one misfire was a pick. He looked as healthy as he has all year, running 15 times for 106 yards and a score.
- Western Michigan can’t find any rhythm on offense. Tyler Van Tubbergen kept pressing, and he came up with a few big throws, but 100 of the team’s 345 yards of total offense came on two plays, and there wasn’t any ground game to help him out.
- With Venric Mark still out, Treyvon Green has picked up the slack for the Wildcat running game, running 20 times for 158 yards and two scores.
- So far, the Broncos have been a major, major disappointment in the early part of the P.J. Fleck era. The team needs to create a few breaks, and it needs an identity on offense. It has to find one thing it can do at a high level.
at Northwestern 48, Syracuse 27, Sept. 7
Basically … Northwestern scored the first 20 points of a game with Syracuse that was never competitive. The Orange drew to within 20-7 in the second quarter, but the Wildcats responded with two quick touchdowns just before halftime to ensure that the outcome would never be in doubt in the second half.
- Head coach Pat Fitzgerald continues to brilliantly juggle two quarterbacks, without incident. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian combined to go 30-of-37 for 375 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. Colter added 87 yards and a score on the ground.
- New Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, though, has concerns with his quarterback situation. Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen regressed in Week 2, getting picked off four times.
- The Wildcats hung up 48 points on a decent Syracuse D ... without the services of All-Big Ten RB Venric Mark. When Mark returns to health, few defenses on the schedule are going to successfully stall this diverse Northwestern attack.
- The one knock on the Wildcats in Week 2? Defense. For Fitzgerald's liking, Northwestern gave up too many yards, while getting to Orange quarterbacks just one time.
Northwestern 44, at California 30, Aug. 31
Basically … It was a grind for a Northwestern defense that seemed to always be on the field, but the big plays came late as linebacker Collin Ellis came up with two interceptions for second half scores from 56 and 40 yards out. The Wildcat offense finally found its groove late, putting the game away on a six-yard Treyvon Green touchdown run. Cal got two third quarter touchdown catches from Chris Harper, but only managed two field goals in the fourth.
- Northwestern lost starting quarterback Kain Colter to a concussion and running back Venric Mark to an injury. Trevor Siemian threw two picks, but he also came up with 276 yards and a touchdown. Treyvon Green carried the rushing workload with 129 yards and two scores helped by a 55-yard dash.
- Here’s the problem. The Cal offense came up 99 plays, but the sped up style didn’t help in time of possession. The attack didn’t control the game like it should’ve, partly because Northwestern always seemed to have someone down and banged up.
- Jared Goff threw the ball 63 times in his Cal debut for 445 yards and two scores, and while he threw three picks, they weren’t all his fault. Chris Harper exploded for 11 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and Bryce Treggs caught 13 passes for 145 yards.
- The two teams combined for 1,056 yards of total offense, six turnovers and 15 penalties with Cal committing ten of them.
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.
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.