Last season, the ‘Cats crumbled with the loss of the emotional and physical leader under center, dropping the final three games. Without Persa in this game, the ‘Cats were more than fine.
Colter showed that he has made enormous strides in the offseason, the receivers made the usual plays, the running backs had a solid performance, and the defense was there ready to go.
Dan Persa will return to lead this team, but this game proves that the team can win without Persa. And if that's true, the expectations will soar upon the QB's return.
NU is pushing the twitter phrase #persastrong as a motto for this season. Instead, perhaps it should be #NUstrong, because this entire team is ready for success in 2011.
2) The Wildcats are ready to handle pressure
The team kept a cool head in a tough environment, played a strong game, but more importantly played a smart game. NU had only four penalties for 26 yards, and none of them turned out to be costly.
The Northwestern defense didn't crack when BC had a chance to tie the game late, and the team came back from an early deficit. All of these signs point to a mature team ready to handle tough situations.
3) The running game should be improved
Mike Trumpy had a couple big performances last season before injury, but there were question marks about the backs coming out of camp this year.
Trumpy had 15 carries for 85 yards, a 5.7 average, and Adonis Smith added 53 yards on 11 carries. NU will need strong running from the backs, especially against a team that was in the top 20 in total defense last season.
4) The defense is improved from last season It wasn't a perfect performance, as BC had 479 yards, 375 through the air against a secondary that was supposed to be NU's strength this year. But the line had consistent pressure on Rettig, and came up with big plays.
NU has long lived under a bend-don't-break reality on defense, and the unit bent a lot less this season. For a more in-depth analysis of the defense, go here.
5) The offensive line is for real
Kain Colter had plenty of time to throw, and had some big holes for the running game.
This line is one of the most experienced in the country, and will need to perform at an extremely high level to help Northwestern get the running game going. At BC, the line did just that.