The junior put forth a career effort at Nebraska, totaling 149 yards and three touchdowns. With the running back depth chart almost entirely depleted, Green needed the star performance — and delivered on the pressure. Despite suffering from minor injuries, he gutted out an impressive game, and continued his excellent 2013 season. He's run for 612 yards (6.5 per carry) with eight total touchdowns and three 100-yard game. Green has one more year of eligibility, so if Mark doesn't receive a medical redshirt, the transition should hardly be painful.
Well, I'm still several yards from calling White a passable Big Ten cornerback, though he made strides against Nebraska. He intercepted Tommy Armstrong in a crucial moment, sure, but I was more interested in observing his overall comfort. One week after being replaced in the starting lineup by true freshman Matt Harris, White showed considerable mental toughness when Nick VanHoose left with a head injury. And until that final, fateful play, the secondary was generally solid.
Is there any argument regarding Northwestern's Team MVP? Tyler Scott has played like an All-Big Ten candidate throughout the season, posting nine tackles for loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles — leading the team in all categories. He picked off Armstrong late in the Nebraska game, in what should have decided the outcome. Always the playmaker, he's benefited from an outstanding supporting cast that includes Dean Lowry (injured), Deonte Gibson and the rising star Ifeadi Odenigbo. In his disappointing senior season, though, there should at least be some individual accolades flying in.
He's not underrated anymore. Ariguzo improved his pass defense this offseason, quickly generating some star power. The redshirt junior functions as the stat-sheet filler, but most impressive are his four interceptions (tied for the team lead) and 79 tackles. Since the struggle against Wisconsin, these linebackers have been excellent in helping to lead NU's defensive resurgence.
Everyone involved with the Hail Mary
Seriously. The Wildcats broke every ‘Hail Mary' rule, gasping for air as Jordan Westerkamp hauled in the 49-yard game-winning score from Ron Kellogg III. NU allowed to Westerkamp to sneak behind the defense, and failed to simply knock the ball down. The mistake was easily worse than Devin Gardner's pass to Roy Roundtree that saved Michigan last season; this one required a collective team breakdown. And almost ironically, they must have wished that Daniel Jones was out there on the field.
I'm giving up hope, and perhaps you should join me. Siemian looked mentally out of whack, going 4-for-13 for 36 yards and one brutal interception. Many tried to remove blame from Siemian after his pick-six, but what made him throw the ball? The old version of Siemian takes the sack, settles into the pocket and throws another one. Instead, the panic crept in for Northwestern's quarterback 1-b, and that could press offensive coordinator Mick McCall to make him the ‘2.' There's hardly any reason for Siemian to play, especially considering Colter's overall success in moving the football. Also: Matt Alviti should get MANY shots to earn the starting role next season. I'm down for a rebuild.
On Saturday, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah–one of the Big Ten's best players–ran for 127 more yards and found consistent space between the tackles. These NU tackles are among the hardest workers on the team; it's not enough to overcome the talent deficit that exists between them and several O-lines. The overall result: NU has been decimated in the "trenches," with their health making this unit even more of a source for worry. The Wildcats are, frankly, surviving with a four defensive end package on third down that disrupts opposing quarterbacks. Will Hampton's injury could be another setback.
Gasp. Aside from Geoff Mogus and Brandon Vitabile–easily the two best O-line performers this year–this group is undergoing painful regression. Matt Frazier entered the game for Ian Park at one point and let up an egregious sack — as though on cue. During the offseason, we admitted that the O-line needed an excellent transition to replace three starters. And that failed. This could be a significant offseason for true freshmen; I'd expect at least one of them to jump into a starting role next year.