That included the "eh" 21-for-36 outing at Penn State in which Siemian averaged just 3.75 yards per attempt—a dreadful number. He never exactly instilled faith against Minnesota next week, going 1-for-7 in blustery conditions that disrupted his throws to the perimeter.
But, at the end of the day, it was his successes that shone through. There were the comebacks in relief, and the plays that made this two-quarterback system sensible after all: Colter and Siemian each brought something unique to the table.
We'll get to Colter later, but it seemed that Siemian directly contributed to close Northwestern wins more than any other player. He led the unquestionably heroic drive against Syracuse, drawing a smart penalty and arcing the corner touchdown to Demetrius Fields. If that Orange game went sour, who knows how last season would have ended up?
Siemian might have been equally excellent against Michigan. He completed six of seven attempts for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Those touchdowns almost defined a "winning effort." He found Cameron Dickerson to end the first half, and then threw the go-ahead score to Tony Jones with less than four minutes remaining.
He wasn't perfect, but it was a formative season for Siemian, who looks to build a more consistent 2013. If he added some mobility–which looks entirely possible–that would make this offense even more difficult to defend.
Really, both quarterbacks are valuable in different ways. If one exclusively led the offense, the attack would lose multiple dimensions. Colter opens up the read option and considerable versatility. Siemian presents the conventional model with his downfield throwing ability. It's not a controversy, and they don't care who takes the first snap in California.
You can't separate last year's success from the frequent heroics of Siemian. It was uneven at times but worked out. He made the throws, had a decent showing in the bowl win and helped to make that season work out.
It remains to be seen how offensive coordinator Mick McCall will change his approach this offseason. We could see more or less Siemian, and substitutions mid-drive like in the Mississippi State game. He's lucky to have two quarterbacks who give him limitless options, and lucky that one of them is generally clutch.