The in-drive dream

Publisher Nick Medline with his pre-training camp input on the two-quarterback system...

That one drive. It was perfect. It all came together.

Here's the complete version, from the third quarter of January's Gator Bowl win against Mississippi State:

Kain Colter passed to Dan Vitale for 1-yard gain.
Venric Mark rushed for 13-yard gain.
Trevor Siemian passed to Kyle Prater (!) for 5-yard gain.
Trevor Siemian passed to Dan Vitale for 8-yard gain.
Kain Colter rushed for 10-yard gain.
Kain Colter rushed for 2-yard gain.
Kain Colter rushed for 30-yard gain.
Trevor Siemian rushed to the right for 4-yard touchdown.

I'm currently sitting in a television-free apartment (which explains the 27-hour extensive sleepless training camp preview) and do not have this drive taped.

In fact, I'll never be the authority on analyzing game film and will never try. This one lasted in memory and carried some bizarre sentimental value.

Anyone can be an expert in evaluating that.

You just knew–from watching on TV or from the shabby Jacksonville press box or from the sidelines–that this drive was the culmination of something greater. It's the miniature of why people are so excited for 2013.

It was the thirteenth game. And they finally figured it out. I, like so many others, watched Northwestern football last season as though it were some talented and well-coached but oddly unfinished product. Look at the assembly of talent in that drive.

We'll first mention the essential fact: This was the first time that Northwestern seriously experimented with the concept of switching its quarterbacks during drives.

And I'll mention that I believe the following: Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian should both be active in 80 to 90 percent of drives lasting longer than five plays.

"We've been [switching] for so long," Kain Colter said of that drive. "When our number's called, we're ready to get in there and make a play.

"We don't think about it very much. Maybe the defense was like, ‘Oh God, they've got a new quarterback in there.' For us, it wasn't that different."

Bingo. The Mississippi State defense was saying: "Oh God." Look at the drive sheet. There's one 1,300-yard rusher, one clutch-as-hell pocket passer and the most versatile player in the Big Ten. SEC speed that. Find the formation to stop those three players, a superback and that tireless offensive line.

Can the hiding sabermetricians leap out to yell at this uncultured and witless football beat writer?

Because I will say things like, "The defense was lost" and "The quarterbacks just seemed tuned in" to explain my support of this quiet but significant changeup. If done right, I believe it could make this offense nearly unstoppable.

What if Colter lined up out wide on one of these plays? Prepare for that.

What if Colter marched in and handed it off to Venric up the gut, and then Siemian subbed in and did the same? I'll call it the snarky package.

I might be alone in suggesting that the Indiana game turned out devastating. The offense could do whatever it wanted, and on that day, it involved letting Colter stomp on everyone for four quarters. That superb individual performance did nothing to prepare Northwestern for a Big Ten-caliber defense at Penn State.

Colter disappeared in Happy Valley, lost in some intricate system that truly made no sense. Siemian averaged 3.8 yards per pass attempt. Colter did not throw, running only five times for 24 yards. This is from McCall's most outspoken supporter: Didn't like it much. (I remember my Penn State column christened the brief stint of our "FOX Sports NEXT" NU site, and that was pretty much foreshadowing.)

The other drive basically iced a bowl victory. If you need any more evidence to explain why it worked, Siemian rushed for a touchdown. There was deception and it ended in six.

You see, not all of the similarly strategic drives worked out quite like that. The bowl game was the experimental process. Under the two-quarterback-in-every-drive umbrella, Fitzgerald and McCall can work to establish some unbeatable packages.

I am no football coach. I might have played linebacker if I were 80 pounds heavier.

But I also know what I saw. And you probably did too. The quick switch ended in one of the greatest scores in program history. If they want to one-up that, it's time to bring back the formula.

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