Linebacker Quentin Davie leads Northwestern’s strongest Position Group

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From Nick Roach to Barry Gardner to Napoleon Harris, Northwestern has produced it’s fair share of NFL linebackers recently. And 6-4, 230 pound Quentin Davie could be the next in line. He enters this fall as arguably NU’s best player, and the member of the roster most likely to make an impact at the next level. (Although we might be saying the same thing one day soon about sophomore starting Right Tackle Patrick Ward).

“Davie’s been mentioned a lot because of the 3-4 stuff that people play and he can certainly fill that role at the next level,” said NU Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern a 20 Game winner! 1st time Ever

bill carmody northwestern

By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS- Northwestern won a national title in the 1930s, during the pre tournament era. They also won a couple Big Ten titles during that decade. Since then things have been pretty lean. But the color purple shines a little brighter today, as the Northwestern Wildcats added another win to their school record 19, downing the Indiana Hoosiers 73-58.

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The Sports Bank’s Live College Football Blog!

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Today, the writers of The Sports Bank will be bringing all their thoughts to you in live, real time fashion!  Ahh, the wonders of the internets!

Join us today as we give you the inside scoop on who, what, why and how YOUR favorite team is doing!

Just some of the games we will be spotlighting today (all start times central):

Towson St. at Northwestern (11 AM)
Minnesota at Syracuse (11 AM)
Navy at Ohio St (11 AM)
Western Michigan at Michigan (2:30 PM)
Missouri at Illinois (2:40 PM)
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin (6 PM)

Simply look for the bolded portions of the post for your favorite teams’ names and look for what’s going on at the stadium and/or in the minds of the people covering the games!

Minnesota 7, Syracuse 0 (13:48 left in the 1Q)
You can tell this is going to be a wild game, with two great kick returns, a turnover, a touchdown, and Syracuse already knocking on the door…I hope if you made a wager on this game you bet the over.  Defense and the defensive side of special teams already seem to be lacking in this one.
Paul Schmidt

Northwestern 7, Towson 0 7:55 1st qtr
Ohhhh, it’s good to be back, god I love football season especially collegiate level. Wish there was more of a crowd here though

–Paul M. Banks

traffic here near the stadium SUCKED!! I can’t believe Ryan Field isn’t more full when you consider how much traffic was backed up

–PMB

Freshman tailback Arby Fields catches a pass. how about 5 for $5.95? When Kafka knows he’s going to throw to him, do you think he says in the huddle to his teammates “I’m thinking Arby’s man”?

–PMB

NU 14, Towson 0, 3:37 1st qtr.

NU freshman TB Arby Fields score his 1st TD. Curly fries, beef n cheddars, and Dr. Pepper all around.

–PMB

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 3

Tweets from @PeterChristian….he’s on fire today:

“Greg Paulus is not accustomed to going this long in a collegiate game without fist pumping wildly (and annoyingly).”
“Thanks to ESPN for sending their 32nd best booth crew to the Gophers-Orange game.”

A couple of thoughts – Minnesota’s defense looks a little bit better than I thought it would, and their offense looks primed like it’s the middle of the season.  Decker is on fire and Adam Weber is firing bullets.
Oh, and I think Pete might be giving these ESPN2 goofballs in the booth too much credit by saying they are #32…
-PS

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 3 (9:59 left in the 1Q)

Minnesota starting this drive for the first time inside their own territory…and now they are lining up a WR named Stoudamire up at QB….good times.

@PeterChristian was wondering if seeing highlights of Minnesotas Eric Decker catching a thousand balls against Illinois last year was fun…why, yes, Pete, it was.  Thanks for asking.
Heading over to the main ESPN to see the Middies and Buckeyes knotted up at 7….
-PS

Northwestern 21, Towson 0 :37 left 1st

I have to admit everyone on NU who’s caught a pass or done something significant on offense today has a GREAT NAME: Arby Fields, Scott Concannon, Drake Dunsmore, Zeke Markhausen. Fictional names are nowhere near as good as these!
–PMB

Love how Towson’s main receiver and return specialist is named Banks. btw, Arby Fields scored again this time from much further out. Is Towson thinking Arby’s man? Ok, that’s it. I’m retiring the roast beef fast food chain jokes

–PB

arbys

NU 28, TU 0 12:44 left in 2nd

Dan Persa, Wildcats’ 2nd string comes in for a drive. 72 yard bomb to Brewer. He’s elusive like Kafka.

–PB

Kafka had a great 1st qtr 7 of 8 for 92 yards.

–PB

NU Athletic Director Jim Phillips is a very friendly and talkative guy. Just chatted with him. He makes sure to chat with all the journos here

–PMB

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 10 (:32 left in the 1Q)
Nice little ball fake by Paulus and he hit his receiver in stride for a 30 yard TD.
We also got the debut of Greg Paulus jumping up and down hands in the air, as well as several little fist-pumps…not good times.
From @PeterChristian

“Dick Vitale just peed himself with that Paulus TD pass.”

“So much for thinking the defensive backs aren’t going to be the Achilles’ Heel of the Gophers. I just threw up.”
Agreed on the DBs…either Paulus is far better than we all anticipated he would be after not playing QB for 4 seasons, or the Gopher DBs are not very good.
Also, I think it is time for my first beer.  Look out world!
-PS

Ohio State 17  Navy 7

After forcing a fumble, Pryor play-fakes and runs in for a short TD. Pryor is not very accurate, but he CANNOT be sacked, and he’s scrambling and then looking downfield, not just tucking and running.

-JF

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 10 (11:48 2Q)
From @PeterChristian:

“Note to Adam Weber: those kind of INT’s are not acceptable when you’ve been starting for two years.”
Agreed.  I didn’t really know what to say about that pass, because after Weber did a really nice job avoiding the pressure, he looked like a second-string high school QB throwing the ball to a receiver that, under no circumstances, could have been considered open.
The Gopher defense held, and even got their first sack on Paulus (a good sandwich…), but those types of passes have to be worrisome if you are a Gopher fan.
-PS

Ohio State 17  Navy 7 (2:51 2Q)

Interesting development here. After Pryor starts out sizzling… he is replaced by the back-up QB for this drive. What!?  The announcers like the move but I’m not so sure. Pryor doesn’t look thrilled either. Fittingly, on his first pass he is sacked.

-JF

Minnesota 14, Syrcause 13

With more tackling issues for the Minnesota DBs, it bears the question, asked via twitter to @PeterChristian, just what their deal is, when they can’t tackle anyone?? @PeterChristian says:

“Because tackling isn’t cool. It’s like crossing the street at a crosswalk. Not doing it is frowned upon, but sometimes it works.”

Ok, then.  There ya go.

Also, Greg Paulus does NOT look like he hasn’t played in a college football game in his career.  They’re using all these little short passes, their version of the Wildcat, the Orange Stallion, and playfakes to completely keep the Gopher D on their toes. The DB’s not bringing receivers down on first contact makes those short passes VERY effective.

Delone Carter just scampered 20+ yards on a straight draw for the Orange, and just punched it in from one yard out, now making it:

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 14 (1:39 2Q)
PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 14 (halftime)

Say what you want to about Greg Paulus, he has completely energized the Syracuse fan base, and their entire team.  They’re fired up to be playing, and excited at their prospects — and the reason that is important is the Carrier Dome gets really, really loud when the student section is rocking.  I’ll call it right now — don’t be surprised if the Cuse manage to find their way to a bowl game this season.  I really like what I’m seeing from them so far.

As for the Gophers, Adam Weber looks really lost so far, and many of his passes are far off the mark.  Just first game jitters/rust?  Or something more?  Keep an eye on this as the game progresses.
PS

Northwestern 37, TU 7 10:30 3rd qtr
I’m surprised Towson even came out for the 2nd half. I would have just stayed inside. And we just had our 1st Wildcat roar of the day… rar rar rar!!

–PMB

I know this is a FCS (formerly I-AA) team, so it’s not that impressive, but still it’s impressive 37-7 total domination

–PB

danny_green_dunking_on_greg_paulus

maybe Eastern Michigan will be a bigger challenge next week. The MAC sometimes gives the Big Ten problems

–pmb

NU 37, TU 14 8:30 in the 3rd

Anybody watch that Big Ten Network Friday night Tailgate show?

No? Yeah, I didnt think so, but anyway, they had this gorgeous new co-host on their who’s an absolute train-wreck on air. Melanie..something. Total babe, but just zero broadcasting skills for the 1o minutes or so I saw towards the end of the show.

This game was pretty much settled since the 1st qtr…it’s 40-14 now. It doesn’t look like they have any other games on the tvs in the press box here. So I’m going to use the 4th here to write my NBC story for the game and get ready to fly out of here to meet Paul S. and co. at joe’s to watch Illinois. I want to get to see a qtr or two of that game before I have to jet again and drive out to Naperville, to get to Lisa’s place for street fest tonight.

OSU only up 6 on Navy- shocking! PSU is crushing Akron 31-7. And Minnesota is still losing. go Cuse!

Ohio State 23  Navy 14

Wake up call for the Buckeyes! Navy just went on a 15 play, 99-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard laser of a TD pass by Ricky Dobbs that took up almost 9 minutes. The defense has some kinks to work out before USC comes to town next week, but the triple option is difficult to defend/prepare for. This is a good early test for Pryor and the inexperienced offense. Just as i typed this, OSU came back and answered with a field goal.
-JF

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State 29  Navy 14
And just like that the suspense is over. Senior safety Kurt Coleman forces a fumble and the offense cashes in with a score. It’s hard what to make of the defense. Without the forced turnovers, pretty mediocre. Pryor looks like he has improved a lot from last year. He is constantly making plays. Hard to tell against Navy, but the running game looks pretty solid too. Nice response.

-JF

 

 

 

Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 13
Coming at you live from Joe’s Bar on Weed Street here in Chicago….yes I’m live blogging from a bar.  This should be entertaining.

Nice, NICE ball from Ricky Stanzi to Tony Moeaki at TE for the Hawkeyes, but it wasn’t entirely clear that he came down with the ball in the end zone without bobbling it.  Too tough to tell, really.  Now Northern Iowa faced with a tough 3rd and 5 to stay somewhere in the game…and not making it.  I’m not saying that the game is over…but it’s not looking good for the Panthers.
-PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 17 (14:10 4Q)
From @PeterChristian – “Nobody on this Gopher offense is on the same page. They’re reading different books. The only ones reading the Gopher playbook is the ‘Cuse D.”

I am telling you, this is a solid job of working with what you have by a not-very-talented Orangmen unit.  They aren’t trying to win it all on one play, like the Gophers seem to be every time they touch the ball.

Of course, Weber just went 40 yards through the air and hit Decker in stride.  So what do I know.

Ohio State 29  Navy 21 

Every time i say something about this game, something crazy happens. Navy just threw an 87 yard TD pass after OSU went for it on 4th and 2 when they were well within field goal range and got stuffed. OSU secondary has serious issues. This game is wacky! I suggest turning it on if you can. -JF

Ohio State 31  Navy 27

NAVY TOUCHDOWN!  QB Ricky Dobbs on a 20+ yard run up the middle. Chris Spielmann is having a heart attack in the booth. It all comes down to the two point conversion…..Navy goes to a spread look and….Pass INTERCEPTED and returned all the way the other way for 2 points! Very odd play call, Navy hadn’t been in the spread all day. Onside kick is unsuccessful. 2:23 remaining -JF

Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16
I don’t think that I can really ezplain what the hell just happened…I had no sound.  But I’ll try….

UNI had a great drive all the way down the field with no timeouts, and did a fantastic job getting themselves into field goal range.  UNI kicker lines up, looks confident….GREATPUSH ON THE IOWA LINE IT’S BLOCKED GAME OVER!!!!

Wait….no it isn’t.

See, you can’t, if you’re the defense, touch the ball on a blocked kick if it crosses the line of scrimmage.  Acts as a fumble.  UNI knew this and recovered the ball for first down, with one second left, and another 42 yard attempt to win the game.

The UNI kicker lines up.  He looks confident.  The ball is snapped and HOLY SHIT IT’S BLOCKED AGAIN?????????

Unequivocably the most wild finish to a game this season so far.  Yeah, I read it…..
PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 20 (OT)
The first college football OT of the year is butting up against the start of the Illinois game.  I’m not happy.

Crap….I’m abandoning the Gophers.  I’m sorry.  Pete is frothing at the mouth though, know this. 
-PS

Illinois-Mizzou, just prior to kickoff
Just know, I’m predicting Illinois to get their first Arch Rivalry win since the inception of this awful nickname…

They just showed the announcers and I don’t know who they are….Ed Cunningham??? WTF, ESPN??
PSIllinois-Mizzou KICKOFF!!!!!
The 2009 season begins with Rejus returning a kickoff 25 yards.  I-L-L!!!

Mizzou 3, Illinois 0 (7:23 1Q)

As far as both teams’ first drives go, this was about as bad as it could have gone.  Illinois didn’t go three-and-out, but had a nice drive stopped by poor Juice Williams decisions, culminating in him NEARLY throwing an interception.

Then Mizzou drove down with relative ease, throwing, running and running an option that I just didn’t see coming.

And in the middle of that drive, Rejus Benn went off the field to the locker room. 

This may be the quickest the Illini have ever made me want to kill myself….

PS      Mizzou 10, Illinois 0
Maybe this live blog was a bad idea….

 

Mizzou again was moving the ball with no problem, and AGAIN, they score.  This time on a long touchdown pass from Gabbart to….someone.  I don’t know who.  I think I blacked out.

Benn is still in the locker room.  This is, officially, the worst I’ve felt about an Illinois game ever…

PS     Mizzou 10, Illinois 3 (13:30 2Q)

 

Well, we’re on the board…I don’t know if it’s a good thing when you see that Baline Gabbart is 8-9 for 100+ yards and a TD.  Mizzou is still moving the ball like it’s going out of style.

STILL no Benn update.  I have to believe, given the way he was walking, it was something above the hips, because there was no limp at all.  Maybe the shoulder again?  He’s got a bad one.  A concussion? He did look….wobbily?  Unsure of his steps?  I don’t know. 

It’s all speculation, and it would be great if SOMEONE would say what happened so we could stop speculating…

-PS     Missouri 13, Illinois 3 (8:36 2Q)

An awful pass by Juice Williams to a wide open AJ Jenkins — Who probably should have caught the ball — led to an interception…two GREAT plays by Martez Wilson stop the drive in it’s tracks though.  Still an FG…

 

But Martez asserting himself with a huge hit is great, and a big tackle for a loss is even better.

Still, much like the crowd in St. Louis, the crowd here at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street is losing interest quickly.  It’s like we knew this was coming.  We’re cut!  The Russian is cut!!

PS  Mizzou 16, Illinois 3


See, this is why you come to the bar with your pregnant wife:  1) she orders fried things with cheese (mmmmmm mac and cheese bites and fried spicy ravioli!!!), 2) she can drive you home when things go inexplicably wrong. 

 

At some point, you have to say Mike Locksley was the heart of the Illinois offense, and that the other Mike, Mike Schultz, isn’t getting the job done. 

Also at some point, if the Illini lose enough games, you have to say Ron Zook (pronounced, according to random old guy announcer that isn’t Ed, Zooooook) is in trouble job-wise.  This team has so much talent….they should go 9-3 or 10-2 no question.  None at all!  Losing to a Missouri team that lost every possible skill player you could imagine in the first game of the year before they really knew what was going on is absolutely inexcusable.  IN-EX-CUSABLE.

I’m going back to my mac and cheese bites.  They’re just more satisfying than the Illinois offense.

Somehow, improbably, still no word on Rejus Benn.  And with music blaring, if it comes at halftime, I won’t know unless one of the people I’ve asked to emails me.  Here’s hoping.

On a side note, I’ve been tweeting all week with @Red_Grange…I haven’t heard from him during the entire game.  I think the Illini killed him again.

Michigan alot, Western Michigan not alot (halftime)
Don’t have a current score on this one but the last time I saw it was 30-0 Wolverines.  Looks like I might have been wrong about the Broncos. 

From resident Wolverine fan Bosch:

“You see Robinson’s speed on that play??  Fuck Pryor!”

I don’t know who Robinson is, but…well, apparently he and Terrelle Pryor are in a romantic relationship….

“It may be the beer talkin, but the big ten better watch out!  I think the Wolverines will be a force!”

Well, what with the Terrelle Pryor fucking and all…..

-PS   Mizzou 23, Illinois 3
Yeah, the worst case scenario just happened.  Huge plays on a Mizzou opening drive to start the second half lead to a 3 yard TD pass from Gabbart to….another nameless Mizzou WR.

 

I mean, he probably wasn’t nameless, but I’m pretty drunk at this point and I don’t remember anything that’s happened and I’m too angry to look.

Benn’s injury is of the ankle variety, despite not limping as he walked off.  No word whether he returns or not. which is awesome.

Incidentally, the Illinois defense is not very good.
-PS

Missouri 30, Illinois 3 (5:14 3Q)

I just didn’t see it coming.  I just didn’t see it coming.

I don’t even know what to say about this game, other than my decision not to drive down to St. Louis on my own dime to cover the game was a really good idea. Really, really good.

I think I’m going to have to divide my Illinois-win-prediction by three to be right this season.  This is just abysmal, and it looks like there is no hope in sight.

Hoohoo just got his first catch.  With 1:30 left in the first Q.  Not like he is one of the best TE’s in the country or anything.

Finally, a tweet from our resident Wolverine fan Bosch:

“This is HJB…what is wrong with your team, man??”

Yup.  That about sums it up.

-PS  Missouri 30, Illinois 9
I wondered what we were missing….a blocked extra point!!! That was it!

 

Apparently Jason Ford is also injured if you’re wondering why we’re getting such a steady diet of suck…I mean Mikel Leshoure. 

I’m running out of bad adjectives for this game.  At this rate, my snark level will be very low for the evening games…

-PS   Missouri 37, Illinois 9
I have a hard time believing I even just typed that score into the posting area.  It’s downright shocking.

 

It’s the worst Illinois loss of the last three years, for one. 

I think, from a rationality there was no way to expect this.

From a fan standpoint, there’s nothing to say other than I feel betrayed and that I feel as though I was sold a bill of goods. 

I find it almost impossible to believe that somehow this is the way we have started a season that could have ended in a very special way. 

Either Missouri is going to be way better than people thought, or Illinois is going to be train wreck bad.

-PS Illinois-Missouri post-mortem
I just got a text from my mother, and Illinois grad. She said, and I’m quoting:
“What ga?”
Quite honestly, that may sum up my feelings…..
PS

 

Wisconsin 14, Northern Illinois 3 14:52 in second quarter

Tweet at 11:30 mark in first quarter:

“To quote Matt LePay: Welcome to the Big 10 Scott Tolzien.”
Mike Lucas shares my thinking that the play almost mirrored the Matt Schaebert/Lee Evans connection in 2004 against Ohio State. Sitting on cloud nine at this point, then reality sets in with the 47 yard run by Me’co Brown down to the Wisconsin 15 on the first play of their second drive. On the bright side, The Badger defense has two sacks already, which is roughly half of what the team had for a total all of last year. If they’re going to give up so many points, at least play with some sense of urgency. I don’t completely understand that saying, but that was my high school football coach’s favorite buzz word. Good thing we didn’t win a game.

Nick Toon is a beast by the way. And I have to admit I didn’t foresee Isaac Anderson’s dual-threat capablities. They have a pretty good crop of underrated receivers. Tolzien just needs to play like Craig Krenzel to give the offense a chance to score. Here comes Curt Phillips…

Halftime: Wisconsin 14, NIU 6

6:54 p.m. tweet- “And so begins Wisconsin’s Chris Leak/Tim Tebow combo, except for the cheerleader pass that Tebow throws. Ride T/P to victory!”

4:10 in second quarter

Welcome to the Big 10 Mike Taylor, and watch that rib contusion you just suffered. His housewarming gift of a fumble inside NIU territory was ruined by Tolzien’s Wakefield knuckler to that cornerback. I love that I can hear the “eat shit” and “fuck you” chants over the television. Totally classy. The Big Ten Network doesn’t have the money to pay for the censors ESPN uses to bleep the chants to “eat_______you.”

1:51 mark-

Make that 0-5 on third downs for NIU. The Badgers aren’t looking too bad on either side of the ball. A bend but don’t break mentality on defense will keep me happy as long as the run-run-pass, more boring than watching paint dry offensive scheme to some level of consistency. 

The best way to describe my feelings at halftime? “Good.” So descriptive, I know. My expectations were pretty low to start, so I’m very happy with both sides of the ball. Tolzien can throw a spiral and the defense is actually creating turnovers and pressure. Now let’s open it up in the second half.

On a separate note, I’m openly campaigning for the Packers to sign Jeff Garcia now that Brohm is out the door. I’ll discuss that later this week.

9:15 in the third quarter-Wisconsin 21, NIU 6

Typical Wisconsin touchdown: A single digit run after some good pass plays. John Clay is bringing back shaving designs into your head to showcase your lifestyle choice. I have a feeling “Tolzien to Toon” will be heard more than a few times this year. Props to Scottie for not emptying his colon before connecting with Al’s son.

Final score: Wisconsin 28, NIU 20

Nothing can ever come easy, but considering all the question marks surrounding the Badgers, all sides of the ball showed a spark that was rarely seen last year. The key word for the rest of the season will be consistency, but the defense was tough, Tolzien’s jock is only stained with sweat, and the rest of the passing game showcased three or four different threats. I’ll have more on this game and the answers to most of those pregame questions next Tuesday. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the fact that the defense wasn’t a game-altering enema like it was so many times last year.

Senior Safeties Lead Way for Wildcats

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By Paul M. Banks

Watching Illini football closely for the past couple of decades (wow did that sentence sound masochistic) I’ve noticed that the seem to have a good season, at least defensively, when they have to good senior safeties. When they don’t have that talent and experience at that position, they struggle mightily on defense. I wonder if that can be extrapolated across college football? One thing’s for sure, their rival Northwestern has that luxury this season. So it will be interesting to see how their D performs with two excellent seniors playing the safety position.

Free Safety Brendan Smith ranks ninth on NU’s career list for interceptions with seven. He was elected a captain this fall, becoming just the eighth player in NU history to earn repeat captaincy. “Smitty” discussed the importance of playing the safety position.

“They’re the guys that have to be the vocal leaders. they’re the guys that have to make the checks, formation variation if the offense goes into motion. If they (opposing offense) come out in a certain formation, we have to make a call to the corners and also to linebackers. They’re the deepest guys back there, the ones who are the safety valves. With them out there, it maybe gives a confidence level to the rest of their team,” he said before discussing how he’s dealing with all the accolades the team secondary and defense is receiving.
“Once you get ahead of yourself, or think you’re too good for something, that’s when they get ahead of you, or throw a double move on you to catch you off guard. The key to football and the key to our success is when every guy does their job. It’s when I want to make that play, and want to do too much that I mess up.”

At the strong side of the safety position, NU has Brad Phillips, tabbed a first-team preseason All-Big Ten selection by Sporting News and Athlon Sports. In ’08 he was the recipient of the team’s Marcel Price Award (given to player who best exhibits enthusiasm and dedication to the Wildcat program and is symbolic of the former NU player’s desire) He was also named to ESPN’s “All-MayDay” postseason team. I asked him about how important is to have experience at the safety positionNorthwestern Michigan Football

“The most important thing is- the experience slows down the game for you, you’re able to see things more, you’re able to make your reads better, it helps you with checking coverages…Brendan Smith helped me out a lot when I was younger, now it’s kind of me and Brendan are the old guys and we’re helping out the young guys now.”
In the Alamo Bowl, slowing down a powerful offense like Missouri, who averaged over 40 points a game last season, helped the team prepare for the powerful passing offenses that they’ll face later in the season.

“I think it was a big confidence booster, we didn’t finish the job, but I think the guys that are coming back, it gave us the confidence that we can play with the best of the best. The Big 12 North Champion, All-American at tight end, receiver being drafted in the first round, and in the off-season it gave us the hunger to finish the job, hopefully with a bowl win this year,” Phillips said.

bsmith

DE Corey Coreysaurus Wootton leads Northwestern’s Defense

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By Paul M. Banks

In 2008, Northwestern finished just one win shy of the school record. They found success primarily because of their defense, as the ’Cats set a single-season defensive rushing record, holding their foes to 126.4 yards per game. Ahead of the previous school record from the Wildcats’ mythical 1995 Rose Bowl season. Newly installed defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz brought in a new attacking-style defense, and the aggressive style paid off as NU recorded a Big Ten-best 34 sacks, 18th-best in the country.

Playboy Preseason All-America Defensive End Corey Wootton led the way with 16.0 TFL’s and 10.0 sacks. He enters his final season ranked fifth on NU’s career list for TFL’s (16) and fourth on NU’s career list for pass sacks (15.5). “Coreysaurus” Wootton also enters Saturday’s season opener against Towson on the watch lists for the Hendricks, Bednarik, Nagurski, Lott and Lombardi Trophy. The 6’7” Wootton explained to me how he got that moniker:

“I got dubbed that nickname from a teammate of mine that just graduated, Todd Dockery cuz of my long neck. I used to be real thin when I was a freshman. Since then he’s always called me “Coreysaurus.” Excuse me for not having a Coreysaurus graphic from PhotoShop. Although a picture of the Coreysaurus Rex stomping on opposing QBs is something the NU marketing department should seriously look into making and distributing. I also asked Wooton about his height affecting his game:tyrannosaurus

“It works to my advantage having a long wingspan, the height, being able to get my hands into the passing lanes, leverage and separation from people. But at the same time it can be a disadvantage. You’re more of a target o get cut {blocked underneath by opponents} things of that nature,” he stated. I brought up how his long arms helped disrupt the passing lanes of Missouri’s Chase Daniel, a 5’10” quarterback, in last year’s Alamo Bowl.

“When you have a shorter quarterback, the angle that they’re projecting the ball isn’t going to be as high as someone who’s 6’4”, 6’5.” You just got to get your hands into the passing lanes a lot and hopefully bat it down,” he responded.

Wotton is tabbed a first-team All-Big Ten preseason selection by Lindy’s, Athlon Sports, Phil Steele’s and Sporting News.  He’s got his eyes set on improving a few things to live up to that. “Working on my second and third moves, I feel like I have a pretty decent first move, but working on that second move, that counter, improving aspects of my footwork, run defense, and all that I’ll continue to work on though the season,” Wootton said. Last year, he set the bar high, so he’ll need a really big year to top it.

He was voted first-team All-Big Ten by conference coaches and the team’s Most Valuable Player. For the second season in his career, he recorded a statistic in every major defensive category (tackles, TFL’s, sacks, pass deflections, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, QB hurries and blocked kicks).

Moving forward, I asked Corey who he thought the best player comparison for his game would be “It would be cool if they said the next Julius Peppers. He’s a tremendous player, a tremendous athlete, we have kind of similar size. One day I hope to even touch the waters of what he is, a truly tremendous a player,” Corey answered.

I then mentioned how rare it was for a defensive player to receive Heisman votes, and Peppers actually finished in the top 10 in 2001 voting. “It’s expected for mostly offensive players, quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs to get those awards, but when you get recognized for that, especially at defensive end, a position that’s not as highly publicized as other positions, it’s a great honor and it shows what a legacy he left. Not only at North Carolina, but in college football,” He replied. It’s true that DEs don’t often get the pub, but perhaps that’s changing?

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“Defensive ends get publicized more than interior linemen and offensive lineman probably because they’re the pretty version of a lineman. You stand up sometimes, you’re on the edge. They’re a little leaner. So they’re publicized, but not as much as linebackers and defensive backs. The game has changed so much over recent years. Julius Peppers was a freak of nature back then and now you’re seeing guys who have tremendous size and athleticism everywhere,” Wooton said.

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