Purple Reign Football Preview - Part 1

Here's a fast overview of what to expect over the next two months as we preview the <b>2003 Northwestern Wildcat Football Team.</b>

Here We Go: The Purple Reign 2003 Football Preview
First off, we're not kidding, our preview will take the better part of June and July, at least until Camp Kenosha, because we have so many internet, newspaper and tape interviews to review. There's a lot out there, and we want to carefully weigh everything that NU Coach Randy Walker [NU Photo left] and his coaches have said about our Wildcats before we try to draw any solid conclusions about the 2003 team. That said, here are a few givens before we start, today, June 2nd, 2003:

The Wildcats still have a very potent offense that show signs of being able to put a lot of points on the scoreboard

The 2003 Defense will be different and improved over the defense the 'Cats put on the field in 2002.

1. Offensive Coordinator
Mike Dunbar's [NU Photo] offense is still running the Spread and barring injuries has Brett Basanez as the #1 Quarterback, Jason Wright is the running back. Trai Essex, if he gets his academic situation worked out, is a solid performer at left tackle. Zach Strief won the starting job at right tackle last year during the heat of the Big 10 season. Matt Ulrich moved over to Center and seems to have solved the 'cats problem there.

After that the big questions are who steps up at guard, which of the wide receivers becomes the breakaway guy, and do the 'cats finally have a tight end that can make a difference in a game? and if they do, will the NU quarterbacks be able to find them for big yardage? And did we really see some option plays during the spring?

2. Defensive Coordinator Greg Colby's [NU Photo] defense this year will be different than the group that seemed to get rolled over last year. This group swarms to the ball. It changes looks constantly. They play like they have a lot to prove.

It comes out in a 3-3-5, a 3-4, a 4-3, it lines up with a safety covering the tight end. It blitzes linebackers, safeties, Lord knows who...
It growls,
    It yells,
        It has a lot of fun.

This Spring it played with a lot of fire, more like Fitz on the sideline. When you talk with the defensive assistants, they seemed to be a lot more positive about the way the team played this spring and the defensive schemes the Wildcats were learning. Obviously, they're keeping a lot of this close to the vest, but we'll try to talk about what they're planning as we get closer to Kenosha.

So maybe that whet's your appetite. It all starts with the Offensive Line - on Wednesday...

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