Game Week Questions

Five pressing questions leading up to the season opener.

Who will emerge as the true second starter at defensive end, if anyone?

The depth chart failed to signify any leader between Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson—two guys who could succeed in starting roles. They might play in some form of rotation–with Ifeadi Odenigbo also shuffling in–during the season opener. It should be an asset for Northwestern to have fresh options at defensive end. Watch out, Jared Goff?

Who will Mick McCall prioritize as an offensive weapon?

There are the usual suspects, of course. But after that, several players could have breakout games against Cal. Stephen Buckley and Tony Jones are two guys I'm watching closely. Buckley could add another weapon to the passing game. Jones, meanwhile, worked in a variety of creative sets throughout training camp. McCall could pull out all of the spots and experiment against the Golden Bears defense.

How does the offensive line really look?

We predicted this alignment from day one (it made sense after spring) and there are no ways out. This group needs to gel and gain consistency heading into game week. They're lucky to have a tested leader in Brandon Vitabile. Jack Konopka looked superb last week. Still, it's time for this group to prove their worth. A nice go at practice could help them pick up more confidence.

What unique measures will they take to prep for Cal?

Nick VanHoose spoke last week about his excitement to face the "Bear Raid" attack. The secondary isn't loaded with experience, though VanHoose and Daniel Jones are solid returning starters. Expect Zack Oliver to throw his arm out when testing the secondary with pass-heavy sets. This unit needs to take care of business in Berkeley.

Can the quarterbacks rein it in this week?

Trevor Siemian looks much improved after the offseason and worked well with receivers including Mike Jensen (now a starter). Kain Colter had a tough fall camp, though this format hardly suits his unique skillset. These first four games–all of which should be wins–are important tests for the passing game. The Wildcats can set aside last year's inconsistency and beat up opposing secondaries.

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