Drive Ending in Seven: Backup plans

Publisher Nick Medline makes his seven predictions heading into the Western Michigan matchup.

Warren Long: six carries, 30 yards.

Expect that redshirt to come off this weekend. Warren Long competed for the first team in practice, and added critical special teams reps. With hard work–and careful attention to the playbook–Long proved his worth. No one expected an offensive true freshman to see the field; everything changed. If there's a comfortable lead, Long can maximize his opportunity this weekend.

Ifeadi Odenigbo keeps plugging away.

He's more of the specialist defensive end for now, and the early results are terrific. Odenigbo lives up to the hype, even if its full effect has yet to arrive. Perhaps the Northwestern coaching staff can spell Tyler Scott for entire stretches of the Western Michigan game. In that case, I'm calling some big-time plays for Odenigbo.

Max Chapman plays more at defensive tackle.

Senior DT Will Hampton mentioned Chapman in his discussion of the position group. He's settling into an inside role, with positive early returns. Chapman entered the game at defensive tackle against Cal, and could see increased opportunities this weekend. The redshirt sophomore looks the part of one sleeper impact player.

Venric Mark won't play.

This isn't remotely dramatic. There's no reason for Mark to play this Saturday, unless the Wildcats want to risk re-aggravating his "lower body" injury against a cupcake opponent. We'll try to gain better insight into his status, but the Ohio State game (Oct. 5) looks like a reasonable guess for his return. But will he be at 100 percent? Fans can only hope so.

Andrew Scanlan has multiple receptions.

I'm sorry, Steven, here's my surprise "Hype Machine" pick. Or maybe it's too general. Scanlan reportedly showed excellent rapport with Matt Alviti, but even now, he looks like a future starting receiver. I say that with much confidence. Scanlan is one of the quieter but solid redshirt freshmen on this team. He could see some blowout chances.

Matt Harris will get tested.

Barring any lingering health issues, NU would benefit from seeing Matt Harris play an expanded role at corner. Dwight White certainly needs some confidence, but the Wildcats coaching staff might sleep easy with added confidence surrounding the unit depth. I'm confident that Harris can settle in nicely, and develop into a multi-year starter for NU.

We'll see the backup linebackers.

All offseason, I raved about the development of this entire unit—including guys like Jaylen Prater and Joseph Jones. Those guys have stayed focused against the first-team offense, staying at home and making plays. Late in this game, I'd like to see some more of the second unit. What can they do?

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