What a difference a year makes for Northwestern QB Kain Colter. Last season the backup QB to Dan Persa found himself making the stat sheet as a triple threat. You had to look in three areas of the box score: rushing, passing and receiving, to see the entire scope of his impact on the game.
This year, the starting signal caller job is all Colter’s and his main weapon will be Kyle Prater (if the NCAA waiver goes through). A lot of things have to go right in Evanston, but if they do, NU will have one of the best pitch and catch combos in the Big Ten, and the Wildcats offense could make some noise this college football season. On defense, well……
2011 was: rather mediocre, especially when you consider how they’ve won one less game each year since 2008. 9 to 8 to 7 to 6 with last year’s senior laden group. That was somewhat disappointing. Their 3-5 in conference, 6-7 overall finish concluded with a bowl game loss where they were over-matched against Ryan Tannehill and Texas A&M. It was impressive how they came back from a 2-5 start to beat Nebraska on the road, galvanizing them towards a bowl game. But overall, the bowl win drought now stands at 64 years.
2012 will go smoothly if: they get their offense in gear and play ball control. with short passes instead of the run. Their spread is a hurry-up so it’s not much for chewing up clock, but they’ll need to get that defense some much needed rest somehow. Moving the chains through high percentage passes sounds like a plan to me. Here’s our impression of the team following the spring game.
2012 will be rough if: They don’t make a huge improvement on defense. And they’ll need to break in six new starters in that unit. Northwestern’s defense was much maligned last season. The pass defense was especially substandard. But at the conclusion of 2012 spring practice, the D was ahead of the offense and it showed a lot of improvement. The secondary will be retooled, so the defense figures to lean on the front seven this fall.
BMOC: Colter completed 67% of his passes last season, 673 yards, 6 TD and 1 INT. He also ran for 100 yards versus Eastern Illinois, and 70+ versus Boston College and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Him, LT Patrick Ward and WR Tpny Jones are the guys on O. On defense: “We’ve actually created a mentality where we’ve come together and really dominated the offense,” said sophomore DL Tyler Scott.
“It’s saying a lot, but I like to personally say that just to give them a little tough times.”
Scott was the winner of the “Jugs Machine Challenge” earlier this week, the video of which went viral.
LB David Nwaibuisi will be very important as well.
All-name team: LB Chi Chi Ariguzo (more on him here), Kenton Playko, Pierre Youngblood-Ary
Bottom Line: They should be just okay. Maybe better that the below .500 they were last year. 7-5 to 5-7 looks likely., but the schedule does them some favors. It would seriously help if they 1.) led the Big Ten is passing again. With or without Prater, they have the receivers to do so. 2.) weren’t last in the league in sacks again like in 2011. If all the spring talk about an improved front is even remotely close to true, than they should be fine.
Rankings Athlon- 49 Lindy’s- 55 Phil Steele- 58
All the 77s
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too