When faced with evaluating and then teaching the 6 quarterbacks left over from the Barnett era, Walker, and then OC Kevin Wilson, told 3 of them to find other positions, because they didn't have time to deal with more than 3 QBs.
Times have changed - the present coordinator, Mike Dunbar, is on record as liking the ability to switch quarterbacks if one doesn't perform. Too many mistakes and, "I'll just run another one in there."
But this year, instead of 4 QBs [Stauss, Basanez, Webb and Jenkins], the Wildcat Quarterback corps is down to just two with game experience; Soph Brett Basanez, and redshirt Frosh Alexander Webb.
Brett Basanez [NU Photo] is amazing. He broke a bone in his leg and still finished #1 among freshmen quarterbacks nationally in passing yardage with 2,204 yards, just over 220 yards per game played. The broken leg hampered his contributions to the running game - he still rushed for 235 yards [although he had 139 in losses] and scored 4 touchdowns.
He's had to be a team leader, taking over for the now departed Tony Stauss during the game with Air Force, he still managed to pass for 158 yards even though the running game was nonexistant at Falcon Stadium.
During the Spring Game you could see flashes of last year as Brett connected on 8 of 17 for 83 yards and a score. He's solidly in position as the #1 QB, if he stays healthy...
You said the magic word, you've got to stay healthy - he didn't last year. But we're not adverse to playing more than one QB, maybe 2 at the same time. People have done it. When you put Alexander Webb out there with Brett Basanez, and Alexander runs a 4.5 its not like you've got a "stiff" out there. I mean he can play, he's as fast as any wide receiver we've got and if I was on defense, I'd cover him, cause you raise up and throw it he can run pretty fast, so can Derrell. [Randy Walker after the first Spring Practice]Then there is Alexander Webb. [NU Photo right] He was the sensation of the Spring Drills 2002, having arrived on campus halfway through his Senior year at Highland Park HS. He came out and ran the NU offense like he owned it. It looked like NU had a 3 way QB controversy growing.
But big hit by two Texas Christian defenders ended the discussion for 2002. Webb suffered a lacerated liver and wound up with a medical redshirt.
He bounced back during the Spring - in the scrimmage he was 10 of 17 for 118 yards passing, with 2 TDs. Passing Basanez in yardage and scoring...
"I have seen good things out of Alexander as well. With his injury last year, he missed a lot of practices. He has fewer practices than your average freshman quarterback would have at this point. But he's making big strides. We have a great (quarterback) situation--the best I've had since coming to Northwestern. [Randy Walker - NU Sports]Webb turned in a 4.5 on the Pro timing day - fast for a QB, but as Walker points out, he's really a true freshman in terms of practices - all he could do was watch last year.
Also in the mix at QB is Soph Derell Jenkins, [NU Photo-left] who was moved to running back halfway through the Spring Dirlls. He started the Spring as the #3 signal caller, but just couldn't get the number of reps the coaches wanted, besides he also has 4.5 speed...
We kept him there the first couple of weeks. We just wanted to evaluate and because of our numbers we're not able to go two and three groups in regards to reps in practice so we thought lets take a look at him at running back. He's just an athletic young man, and he's just too athletic not to have an opportunity to contribute somewhere. [Dunbar after the Spring Scrimmage]Jenkins did get a chance to do some punt returns in the spring scrimmage - he is as quick as advertised and could wind up as the punt returner [and maybe more] once the season gets going.
However, Jenkins hasn't turned in his #12 Quarterback number just yet, and he's not totally out of the mix as the Wildcat signal caller., so maybe he's QB #3 1/2?
We're going to keep his [Jenkins'] hand in at quarterback, I think and its something we're going to evaluate as the summer goes on and we have to keep a solid 3 or 4 going at quarterback and Walter Cale, a young walk-on quarterback, who hasn't scrimmaged is in the play too. He's making very good progress, and we're bringing in a young man out of New Jersey [Chris Maleo] we signed so we're still pretty solid at Quarterback. We'll have to see how it evolves but know Derrell can do it. [Dunbar]So for now, Cale has to be listed as #3, and Jenkins is still in the backfield, somewhere. The other quarterback on the Roster, RS Freshman Joe Ferguson, still hasn't been cleared for practice. Until he is, we won't get a look at his abilities.
Then there's incoming freshman Chris Maleo [6-3 220]. He spent last year "prepping" at the Hun School of Princeton and picked up a string of awards including New Jersey Prep Offensive Player of the Year. At Wall Township HS his passing numbers were impressive - 128 of 227 for 2,480 yards and 25 TDs. He also rushed for 617 yards and 10 TDs. At those numbers together and he totalled 3025 yards of offense and 35 TDs.
If the Cats don't need Maleo next season [he also punts], he's should be in the mix in 2004, but remember we have to be careful with HS credentials.
No doubt about it, Quarterback injuries hampered the Northwestern offense last year - in the spread offense, the QB is also a running back - take away that option and everything else starts to unravel. Things are looking better for 2003.
Next up, and overall evaluation of the Offense...
Now that Brett's over his broken leg, and Alexander's [Webb] liver's healed, Derrell's thumb - we got a lot of quarterbacks hurt last year, and on Pro Timing day, Derell and Alexander both ran a 4.5. Its nice to have a couple of quarterbacks who can run like that.So we're going to keep running the quarterback - we've got guys who can do it - and they can throw the ball well so we really do have a good situation at quarterback and we're going to utilize those guys and get 'em playing and we're excited about all of them. [Walker after the first Friday Spring Practice]And don't forget some of the new wrinkles to the spread that we didn't get to see because of the "no hit" rules, things like the option...
Quarterbacks are in green and they can't get hit so in scrimmages we do very little of the quarterback oriented run stuff and that's pretty much designed. We practice that during the week when its what we call "tag off" or "thud" when it becomes live. Its not fair to the defense because we don't want those guys to get hit, we don't run much of that stuff during the scrimmages, so we didn't do any today. [OC Mike Dunbar after the Spring Scrimmage]If the Cats are adding some option plays to the spread, maybe we should figure a need for two or three quarterbacks again next year, but if you look Zak Kustok's senior year, he was able to add over 500 yards rushing to the offense - something that the #1, either Basanez, Webb or Jenkins should also be able to do if they remain healthy.
The 2003 Wildcats will look to Brett Basanez as the leader of the offense, and he's apparently risen to the challenge. But as teams try to prepare for the Wildcats this year, they won't be able to send defenders in "head hunting" because everyone should know that there are two very fast replacements waiting on the sidelines.
Two replacements who would love to get the #1 QB job, remember Randy Walker's comment;
We have a great (quarterback) situation--the best I've had since coming to Northwestern.
Projected 2003 Depth Chart*:
[5-10 210 Sr]
[5-11 230 Jr]
[6-1 205 So]
[6-0 245 Sr]
[6-2 200 So]
[6-1 195 Fr]
[6-2 190 Fr]
| Y - Rcvr
[6-0 205 Sr]
[5-9 170 So]
[5-9 170 [So]
[6-3 215 Sr]
[6-1 185 So]
[6-7 335 So]
[6-7 301 Jr]
[6-6 320 Fr]
[6-4 270 So]
[6-5 300 So]
[6-3 280 Fr]
[6-2 305 Jr]
[6-3 280 Fr]
[6-5 300 So]
(Maybe) Trevor Rees/
[6-5 325 Jr]
[6-2 295 Jr]
[6-0 270 Jr]
[6-4 280 Jr]
[6-7 335 So]
[6-7 310 Jr]
[6-3 265 Sr]
[6-3 235 So]
[[6-3 260 So]
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