During spring ball, Nick and I mused about Dickerson being the vertical threat, the deep target that Northwestern had desperately been searching for since Jeremy Ebert. At 6-3 with respectable route running and good open-field speed, the sophomore wideout looked like a lock to lead the team in yards per catch.
Fast forward some six months later, it's apparent that Tony Jones (and last week, Rashad Lawrence) is the deep threat. Dickerson's size is still being exploited, only now it's in the red zone, where the field shrinks and physicality is even more important. He only has four catches this season, but last week's grab was one of the biggest in recent memory — the go-ahead 12-yard touchdown delivered by Trevor Siemian in a collapsing pocket. The Wildcats like Dickerson, particularly in pro-style passing sets, and I expect another goal-line look this week against the Badgers' undersized secondary. He's my latest pick for PW Hype Machine.
Darius Hillary, Wisconsin's nickel back who figures to spend the most time lined up against Dickerson, is just 5-11, a good four inches and 15 pounds smaller. And Dickerson plays at the Z spot, where Rashad Lawrence saw ample looks splitting safeties last Saturday. The matchup is ideal, and against a Wisco front seven that ranks 12th in the FBS in run defense, the Cats will be looking to air it out early and often. Northwestern stalled in the red zone three times against Ohio State, largely due to conservative play calling and unimaginative runs. If they want to knock off the Badgers, they'll need to spread the field. Dickerson's created a reliable niche for himself that warrants looks as the Wildcats try to get more creative.
Dickerson's positive attitude in practice is contagious, and as we saw last weekend, any wide receiver in this unit has the ability to break out if the game plan calls for it. Northwestern's offensive line will need to show drastic improvements this week, but both Siemian and Kain Colter looked better than ever against the Buckeyes. The passing game should look sharp. Don't expect a huge stat line from Dickerson, but stats will be thrown out the window at the goal line. Now get hyped.
Game 1: Collin Ellis — Two interceptions returned for touchdowns
Game 2: Traveon Henry— Eight tackles, interception
Game 3: Rashad Lawrence— Zero receptions
Game 4: Dean Lowry — Interception returned for touchdown, sack, forced fumble
Game 5: Jack Konopka — sack allowed, left game injured