Northwestern Preview

The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off a tough loss to Texas Christian University last Thursday. We saw glipses of greatness, and some pretty bad play. What's up for the first Home game...

In the Air or on the Ground?

And where was that defense in the first half?

First off, don't expect a big crowd.

The students are not on campus yet, and it may seem that the Wildcats don't have a lot of support. Its actually there, and it appears that NU has another version of the Cardiac Cats that brings out the fans once the Big 10 season begins.

So what do you expect to see?

On Offense: NU can go after your defense in two ways - in the air, and on the ground.

In the air, NU Quarterback Brett Basanez just set the new single game passing record, and did it using all of his receivers. The Cats usually come out in a 3 wideout, one back spread offense. Baz [as he's called around here] will use all of them to move the ball through the air.

Then there's the ground game - NU will use two backs, Noah Herron and Terrell Jordan behind an immense Offensive Line. Herron had 90 yards rushing against TCU's 6-8 defenders in the box. Jordan has been nursing a leg injury, but should be full speed for the home opener.

The Cats and Basanez have shown they can put up 500+ yards through the air and 300+ yards rushing in a single game. You have to play both types of defense very well to shut them down.

Now Defense - the Cats sorely miss DE Loren Howard and his loss on the D-Line has caused a major shuffle up front. Colby Clark is back at tackle - he was supposed to be the other DE. Barry Cofield who was supposed to be a DT is back at end.

But the Cats shuffle the linemen in and out anyway. Expect to see 8 or 9 guys up front as the Cats play an aggressive, shuffle the look style of defense that seems to get better with each game.

NU couldn't seem to even run a simple cover 2 in the first half last week. Expect that they figure out how to get a pass rush, and coverage this week.

Special Teams: The Cats have some pretty quick guys running back punts and kicks - one of them is going to break something. But the Field Goal kicking, something we took for granted, is a little dicey this week with Brian Huffman missing 4 of 5 FG's last week.

So the big question is, "Can these Cats pull their defense together, and let the Offense roll over the opponent?"

If they can, its an easy NU win. If they can't, it could be another loooong afternoon.

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