Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern teams are great on the road in conference play, and usually get better as the season goes on. In his young coaching career, he is 9-4 in November. However, the flip side of that shows his teams losing at lot of games in the early preconference that the Cats have no business losing.
See Div 1-AA New Hampshire and Nevada in ’06, Duke in ’07 and Syracuse last year. And the “Cardiac Cats” have some ugly wins/narrow escapes against vastly inferior opponents in September too. See the opener against Vanderbilt this year, Eastern Michigan last season, Duke in ’08 and Nevada in ’07.
Maybe the key to reaching the proverbial “mid season form” this year will be finding good chemistry between the quarterback and the receivers earlier in the season. This year the Cats have to replace their top two wideouts. But it’s a better situation than the ’08 transition to ’09 when they had to replace their top three receivers.
By Paul M. Banks
SB (NU’s hybrid tight end/fullback position) Drake Dunsmore caught both of Persa’s TD passes today, a 4-yarder and a 5-yarder. Dunsmore now leads the Wildcats with three TD receptions in 2010. He has caught five TD passes in his last six games.
“They were the same route. I got to the back of the end zone and Dan [Persa] threw nice passes,” Dunsmore said of his two TD catches.
The Junior ranked second among Big Ten tight ends with 47 receptions a year ago, capping his season with a career-best nine catches for 120 yards inclusive of a spectacular 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. He also has been named a preseason All-Big Ten second-team choice by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s.
“Technically, we should be able to do everything, come out of the backfield, split out as a wideout, be on the line, motion off the line and know every position,” Dunsmore said in describing the position.
“He’s a special player,” Persa said of Dunsmore.
“He causes match-up problems because he is so big and so fast. He’s a great player in the red zone and he makes big catches.”
WR Jeremy Ebert led NU with 67 receiving yards (on three receptions) versus Illinois State on Saturday. He caught a career-long 45-yard reception in the second quarter. Ebert, who leads the team with eight receptions, owns a team-best 20.8 ypr average. In the opener, he caught 5 balls for 99 yards and a touchdown. He ranks second in the Big Ten and 40th nationally with 83 receiving yards per game.
Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru
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