The Five Things We're Scared Of

The five things that worry Northwestern fans heading into the 2013 season.

More long, dismaying passes

Gardner-to-Roundtree for 52 yards: it's etched in my memory. Daniel Jones mistimed that fateful jump and Michigan snatched Northwestern's 10-2 record from the air.

The corners certainly improved last season. The year before, the group often appeared lost and overwhelmed. Nick VanHoose defined what a "good cornerback" is with his consistently solid efforts.

Suddenly, the unit owns some potential with VanHoose, Jones and high-upside incoming freshmen in Matthew Harris and Keith Watkins. If Dwight White and C.J. Bryant can hold down the third and fourth roles, that's even better.

They will face Devin Gardner again. Braxton Miller comes to town. Oh, and Taylor Martinez torched the Wildcats last season in what was arguably the best outing from any NU opponent in all of 2012. Porous secondaries can undermine potentially outstanding seasons. Jerry Brown and crew shouldn't let that happen.

The Ohio State fans

One of the more embarrassing moments last season arrived when Nebraska fans seemingly monopolized the Ryan Field bleachers.

Kain Colter went to a silent count late in the game. Jeff Budzien narrowly missed a crucial field goal. The team dropped multiple potential game-sealing interceptions en route to the heartbreaking loss. It wasn't a choke, in my opinion, but the quiet fan base certainly didn't help.

All offseason, NUSports and crucial websites like Lake the Posts have attempted to rally Wildcats fans. People are excited for this team, understandably, and that needs to be reflected on October 5th.

College Gameday might set up in Evanston to an ideal opportunity to gain some attention, and no one's opposed to that. Just needs to be the right kind.

Mark injury

I know. It's so grim and unpredictable, only not really. Northwestern survived against Boston College with Mark unavailable near the end of the game. Trumpy, again, is an underrated backup.

This year–and with this schedule–they can't afford to lose one of Desmond Howard's top five playmakers at crucial junctures. If I were on the sidelines, an injured Mark would be my overwhelming fear.

Should Northwestern gain significant leads in any of its first four conference games, I'd take Mark out in seconds. The Wildcats were one of the healthiest teams in football last season. No need to try their luck again.

Madison

This is the scariest game for Northwestern: @ Wisconsin. Teams don't win at Camp Randall without some perfect blend of mental toughness and execution. This may not be the Badgers team of old, as new head coach Gary Andersen took the helm this offseason.

The Badgers return fourteen starters to a team whose most recent game took place in Pasadena. (Granted, they were merely average during the regular season.)

Oh, and that's the week after Ohio State. Win or lose in that game, that trip to Madison could well be the defining point of next regular season.

Offensive duds

It was difficult, I'm sure, for some to get over the Penn State loss. Kain Colter never attempted a pass. The team appeared overly confident with its schemes after the Indiana shootout.

It seemed confusing. It was forgotten by season's end, because the season was an undisputed success.

The "versatility" keyword, though, gets tossed out there without pause. How do you maximize this skillset? It didn't happen against Penn State. Perhaps they inched closer to some conclusion against Mississippi State, with the quarterbacks rotating in and out during drives rather than following them.


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