NU Position Capsule: Quarterback

The season is over, so now it's time to look ahead; even if it is so far away. In the first of a PurpleWildcats feature, publisher Chris Emma gives a detailed glance at where Northwestern stands at the quarterback position.

The guys we know—It began as a mystery, under the sweaty Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Where did starter Kain Colter go, and what was backup Trevor Siemian doing in the game? Such a storyline carried throughout the regular season, but with much greater clarity.

The two-quarterback system implemented by offensive coordinator Mick McCall saw both great success and tremendous failure. Against Indiana, Siemian threw for more than 300 yards while Colter paced the offense on the ground and on the receiving end. One week later, it was badly mismanaged by McCall—a key reason for Northwestern's loss to Penn State.

Colter is one of the Big Ten's best playmakers, providing tremendous athleticism to the Northwestern offense. He also has the edge over the steady Siemian in being a better compliment to running back Venric Mark, expected to be the primary feature of the offense once again.

The guy we don't know—You may have seen him under the large placard along Northwestern's sidelines, calling out signals to the starters. Many do not know much about third-stringer Zack Oliver, a third-year sophomore in 2013.

A highly-touted prospect out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, many had high hopes for Oliver. Thus far, he has been buried in the depth chart. Many have wondered where he fits into the offense—if anywhere.

In practice, Oliver has shown growth, throwing the ball with more confidence. After two years of learning, he'll have a strong grasp of the offense and should be game-ready. That brings back the previous question: where he fits. We'll have to wait and see.

Entering the fold—You've heard all about him by now. You've seen the highlight film, looked through his profile, and have envisioned him in the Northwestern offense—such a perfect fit. Four-star quarterback Matt Alviti makes so much sense for the Wildcats' future

Alviti, a native of nearby Park Ridge, Ill., was the first Northwestern commitment, starting the momentum for a strong class. Now, the obvious questions exist; namely when he'll get a chance.

Don't expect Alviti to play as a true freshman; he'll most likely redshirt. After Colter's departure, Alviti could get his chance, though Siemian will be a senior at that time. Looking beyond that, who knows where he'll fit in. Regardless, with so much talent, Alviti will get his chance.

Prediction— Look for more of the same in 2013. Kain Colter will continue to serve as the starter, while Trevor Siemian takes the role of ‘Quarterback 1A' again. Between the two, there was plenty of success on offense last season. Why mess with a good thing?

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats. He resides on Chicago's north side.
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