Josh Turel Scouts the Northwestern Offense

These guys are hitting on all cylinders offensively and have been pretty much all year. Look at their wins: mostly high-scoring and close … the avg. score for their games this season is 32.5 to 32.5! Brett Basanez has thrown for 2,181 yds. in 7 games. And after seeing Tyrell Sutton play in high school, I wrote this: "I am a Tyrell Sutton believer. Folks, I've seen Kevin Grady run, and I can tell you there is not much difference. The kid is a huge sleeper." He's averaging 6.2 ypc for 970 yds.

Northwestern Wildcats
-- Head Coach Randy Walker
-- 2005 Record so far: 5-2, 3-1 Big Ten, in a 4-way tie for 1st with PSU, OSU and Wisconsin.
-- The Wildcats have lost at ASU (52-21) and at home to PSU (34-29), and in the last three weeks have beaten Wisconsin (51-48), Purdue (away, 34-29) and MSU (away, 49-14). They also beat Ohio U (38-14) and N. Illinois (38-37).

The Northwestern Offense:


14 Brett Basanez 6-2, 210, Sr.
18 C.J. Bacher 6-2, 190, Fr.

Running Back
19 Tyrell Sutton 5-9, 190, Fr.
23 Gerard Hamlett 5-10, 185, Fr.
11 Brandon Roberson 5-9, 195, So.
29 Omar Conteh 6-0, 200, Fr.

49 Frayne Abernathy 6-3, 245, So.
Z Receiver
84 Kim Thompson 6-4, 195, So.
89 Ross Lane 6-3, 180, Fr.
17 Eric Peterman 6-1, 200, Fr.

X Receiver
9 Mark Philmore 5-10, 185, Sr.
8 Rasheed Ward 5-10, 165, Fr.

3 Shaun Herbert 6-1, 200, Jr.
1 Jonathan Fields 5-8, 175, Sr.

Tight End
44 Erryn Cobb 6-1, 255, Jr.
83 Sean Mansfield 6-3, 245, Sr.

Left Tackle
74 Dylan Thiry 6-8, 300, So.
75 Vince Clarke 6-5, 305, Sr.

Right Tackle
63 Zach Strief 6-7, 335, Sr.
59 Alex Rucks 6-4, 300, Fr.

Right Guard
51 Joe Tripodi 6-3, 300, Jr.
52 Joel Belding 6-3, 300, Fr.

Left Guard
56 Ryan Keenan 6-4, 290, Jr.
73 Fred McConnell 6-3, 300, So.
62 Austin Matthews 6-5, 285, So.

52 Joel Belding 6-3, 300, Fr.
77 Adam Crum 6-1, 280, So.

Injury Report (OUT):
Running back Terrell Jordan (hamstring)
Wide receiver Brandon Horn (suspension)
Offensive linemen Fred McConnell (knee)
Center Trevor Rees (academics)

TEAM STATS: Northwestern Offense vs. Michigan Defense

Scoring Offense: Northwestern 1st at 40.8 points per game
Scoring Defense: Michigan 4th at 24.4 points per game

Total Offense: NW 1st at 559.2 yards per game
Total Defense: U-M 4th at 398.4 yards per game

Passing Offense: NW 1st at 349 yards per game
Passing Defense: U-M 4th at 219.0 yards per game

Rushing Offense: NW 4th at 210.2 yards per game
Rushing Defense: U-M 8th at 179.4 yards per game

3rd Down Conversions: NW 4th at 45.5%
3rd Down Conversions Allowed: U-M 8th at 44.9%

Red Zone Offense: NW 4th at 87.5% (66.7% TD's)
Red Zone Defense: U-M 7th at 86.4% (45% TD's)

1st Downs: NW 1st at 28.75 per game
1st Downs Allowed: U-M 10th at 21.6 allowed per game

Sacks Against: NW 4th, with 3 given up in 4 games
Sacks by: U-M has 8 in 5 games

Kickoff Returns: NW 2nd at 24.0 yards per kickoff
Kickoff Returns Allowed: U-M 5th at 38.4 yards per kickoff allowed


Obviously these guys are hitting on all cylinders offensively and have been pretty much all year. Look at their victories: mostly high-scoring and close … the average score for their games for the season is 32.5 to 32.5!

Brett Basanez has thrown for 2,181 yards, hit over 67 percent of his targets and throw for 12 touchdowns to one interception. He leads the Big Ten in passing and total offense. I won't go as far to say he's the best quarterback in the country like some have, but he's having a great year obviously. He's also running the ball well with Northwestern's spread option, rushing for 268 yards and five scores. The Wildcats like usual have ran the ball more than they've thrown it, 292 runs to 283 passes, but this team is very balanced. The Wildcats make it difficult for Basanez to feel pressure because they have a quick passing game. Basanez gets the ball off quickly and he is outstanding at reading coverages so he can area-read and work different areas of the field.

After seeing Tyrell Sutton play in high school, watching his tapes and finally seeing him in person, I stated this about him back in June: "I am a Tyrell Sutton believer. Folks, I've seen Kevin Grady run, and I can tell you there is not much difference. Power, moves, the inability of defenders to bring him down. The kid is a huge sleeper in my opinion." Well, unfortunately that has come true. A guy the Buckeyes never even considering giving a chance to now has more rushing yards that all the Buckeye running backs combined. Sutton has been on a tear his freshman season, averaging 6.2 yards a touch for 970 yards (2nd in the conference) and 14 touchdowns, not to mention 216 receiving yards. He's even surprised me with his versatility. He's worked well in the option, he's caught the ball well, and we all know he can pound it inside. If you haven't seen a Northwestern game yet (or an Akron Hoban game last season), think of a polished Kevin Grady. His back up Gerard Hamlett in my opinion has progressed as he's acquired more experience. He's averaging 4.8 yards a carry for 124 yards thus far. He's from Michigan recruit Sam Young's high school (St. Aquinas) and he's been a guy they have high hopes for even with Sutton in the fold. Brandon Roberson is a very fast back, maybe the fastest I can recall at Northwestern since Damian Anderson. He's averaging 4.4 yards carry this year. R-Back Frank Abernathy is good at what they use him for. He's pretty much a fullback/2nd tight end hybrid in the system. He's not a name you will hear much, he won't run the ball and they only throw to him once in a great while.

The receivers are a solid bunch, probably the best Wildcat unit I can recall for some time. Shaun Herbert is the receiving leader with 54 catches (a conference leading 8.25 per game) for 573 yards and four touchdowns. Herbert starts from the "H-Back" receiver position. He's in the Jason Avant mold, and I certainly think he has potential at the next level based on how good his route running ability is and his excellent hands. Herbert is a clutch performer who, along with Mark Philmore, are among the most overlooked players in the conference. Jonathan Fields (5.75 catches per game) is the smallest of the receivers but he can rotate to different spots as can Herbert. Fields is only 5-8 but he's explosive and though the stats don't show it, he's a vertical threat. Mark Philmore as I said before is an underrated player. Injuries have prevented him from putting up a big season but he's legit. Philmore brings a little bit of every thing to the fold. He's a good route runner, has some explosion and is a reliable player. He has 20 grabs for 264 yards on the year. 6-4 Kim Thompson should see much playing time at the Z spot. The big target from Detroit Country Day has 15 catches for 271 yards (18.1 avg.). Tight end Erryn Cobb has one job in this offense, and that is to block. They've only thrown to him twice all year. He's not overly big, but he plays with good leverage and is a physical player, and an ex-fullback.

The offensive line has been pretty decent. The headliners are right tackle Zach Strief and left tackle Dylan Thiry. Strief is limited in space but he is a mauler type who blocks well in short areas and he's sealed his gaps fairly well throughout the year. He's a massive player who can engulf defenders when he's on his game. Dylan Thiry is one of the most underrated linemen in the conference if you ask me. He has a lot of potential in the future as well. The 6-8, 300 pound sophomore had a stellar start in spring and fall practices and has carried it over to the season. Guard Ryan Keenan was a guy who came on for them in the spring and he's improved. He's better in space; I think he's improved as a drive blocker but he still has a ways to go but his technique is there. The loss of center Trevor Rees was a blow but Joel Belding picked up well for him. It's obvious though that he's learning on the fly. Joe Tripodi is one of the most experienced linemen but he's questionable in my opinion.

Come back at the noon hour for Josh's Defensive Scouting Report on NW, plus his final words and prediction -- and some final words from Michael Taylor as well!

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