NU searching for confidence on Saturday

"There is some sense of urgency this week," Pat Fitzgerald said after Wednesday's practice. The Wildcats look to rediscover their confidence this weekend.

After losing to Ohio State, Tyler Scott said the Wildcats had their heads held high. After losing to Wisconsin, it was a different story.

"Coach Fitz said we looked like someone shot our dog," Scott told PurpleWildcats.com on Wednesday.

A barrage of water balloons and a return to Ryan Field was supposed to make things lighter against Minnesota. Now, with a third straight loss, changes need to be made fast, and they extend beyond more imaginative play calling and readjusted personnel.

In its four nonconference wins, the team looked sure of itself. Part of that was due to playing easier opponents, but even with a hobbled Kain Colter and without Venric Mark and Daniel Jones, the Cats played to their advantages.

If anything, that confidence doubled up against the Buckeyes; facing the fourth-ranked team in the country, Northwestern was doing things its own way, not trying to out-Ohio State anybody. In the Wisconsin and Minnesota losses, NU has looked uninspired, unsure and uncomfortable with a new pocket passing offense. Ditch the stats, and something still doesn't feel right.

Sometimes it's hard to quantify what exactly is going wrong. The Wildcats have stopped running the ball effectively and have struggled on the offensive line, but more importantly, there's been an intangible lack of urgency on both sides of the ball. Heading into Iowa with a new goal of bowl eligibility still alive, Scott thinks that could change this weekend.

"We've got to get our confidence back," he said.

It sounds corny, but in the wake of an 0-3 start and a few devastating injuries, it's about all Northwestern can hope for right now.

"There is some sense of urgency this week," Pat Fitzgerald said. "You can use that frustration as fuel."

With adjusted expectations, the Wildcats may fare better on Saturday. But before more runs can be dialed up, and before Trevor Siemian figures out how to snap out of his slump, Northwestern can't keep reeling from falling just short on Oct. 5.

Three weeks after the most hyped regular season game in program history, the momentum has been shot, and the Wildcats need to start with a small step forward Saturday.


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