NU has a bye-week before facing Illinois, and the team has quite a few problems to work out before beginning the Big Ten schedule.
Player of the game: Trent Steelman
The Army quarterback had 108 yards on 28 carries and all three of Army's touchdowns. He was just 1-7 through the air, but no matter for the Black Knights. The team controlled the ground game, and Northwestern was eventually word down.
It all started with Steelman, who was poised, and made the correct decisions in the option offense, keeping the majority of the plays, but pitching at appropriate times to make the NU defense look silly being caught over-pursuing. Stat of the game: Time of possession Army held the ball for 40 minutes and 19 seconds while Northwestern carried it for just 19 minutes and 41 seconds. This is definitely the most telling statistic of the game. Northwestern defense kept the team in the game, but multiple short drives and punts by the offense left the defense in tough situations time and again.
Army's offense is designed for long drives, meaning the NU defense was destined for a lot of time on the field regardless. The offenses short possessions made it impossible for the D to get rest, which makes it nearly impossible to stop the relentless triple option.
Play of the game: Ebert's 2nd touchdown
Down 14-7 after a big missed field goal, freshman Trevor Siemian entered the offense in replacement of Kain Colter. Siemian completed 3 passes in a row, the third of which was a short pass to Ebert. After making the catch, Ebert made a few quick moves, and it was off to the races for a 62-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.
After a statless game against Eastern Michigan, Ebert kept the Northwestern passing attack alive and kept the ‘Cats in the game. He is the biggest weapon at receiver possibly in the Big Ten, and he showed why in this game.
Looking forward: This game was supposed to go differently for the ‘Cats, but Army proved too tough a test. However, looking at the big picture, a 2-1 start is not the end of the world for NU. 3-0 would have obviously been preferable, but the ‘Cats have to keep perspective.
Without Dan Persa and with new starters on defense, the ‘Cats start could have been worse. With a bye week to get healthy and recover, the Illinois game next week will prove pivotal. Recover and win, and NU will have momentum heading into the team's three straight night games.