NU Football's Unfortunate Events

Remembering the bad luck and bad timing of Northwestern's 2013 football season.

Sometime in August— Venric battles hamstring injury

Worse, Mark tried to return against California — far too quickly given the extent of his injury. After being limited throughout camp, Mark ran for only 29 yards on 11 carries in the season opener. Oddly, though, fans can be thankful for this one: His relatively minor early season injury allowed him to miss enough time and set himself up for a medical hardship waiver.

August 31— Daniel Jones blows out knee

On that day, PurpleWildcats.com first had word that Daniel Jones "blew out" his knee on an awkward second quarter play. Jones did, in fact, and would miss the remainder of the season. This looked more impactful when Dwight White labored through the opening stretch; true freshman Matt Harris looked more comfortable replacing Jones, who will be back in the mix next year.

September 21— McEvilly sustains foot injury

Northwestern's best defensive tackle was a surprise "out" listing before week four. He tried to rehab his foot, and returned for the Iowa game. We can assume it wasn't fully healing, though, so he underwent season-ending surgery on that foot. Will Hampton, Chance Carter and others filled in admirably — with the defensive ends really helping the front gain success.

October 5— Fourth and one gaffe proves costly

This deserved its own entry: With the game on the line, Kain Colter tried a gimmicky quarterback sneak. He walked up behind Brandon Vitabile and kind of quick-snapped. The ball was bobbled; he never reached the first down marker and that would be it for Northwestern's chances. This pre-empted other issues with offensive coordinator Mick McCall and his odd play calling style.

October 12— Mark fractures ankle

After his grand comeback in the Ohio State game, Venric Mark's season ended when he busted his ankle on the goal line at Camp Randall. The senior learned it was a fracture and opted to choose the "medical redshirt" route. We can only hope he'll return at full strength. Led by Treyvon Green, it should be noted that the running game did find some success.

October 12— Siemian quietly hurts heel

With Kain Colter already banged up – putting it lightly – Siemian needed to embrace the starter's role and failed. Pat Fitzgerald said after the season that Siemian hurt his heel against Wisconsin, and that injury crushed his mobility. Add the painful offensive line struggles, and you're dealing with quite the difficult situation. Siemian was able to flash his potential late in the year.

October 19— They lost to Minnesota

Well, there were some remaining optimists when Northwestern was blown out at Wisconsin. Those disappeared after a motivated Minnesota team walked on NU at Ryan Field. Even then, we couldn't have imagined that the Wildcats would miss bowl eligibility. But this was one devastating (and perhaps season-defining) loss. Everything only spiraled from that point forward.

October 26— Running back attrition hits

One key to understanding Northwestern football: Fitzgerald and his coaching staff constantly stress having depth at the running back position. But given a stunning number of injuries, only Stephen Buckley and Mike Trumpy were available during the Iowa game. Trumpy's costly fumbles cost NU an opportunity to win, while Buckley's good health proved fleeting.

November 2— Buckley loses season to injury

In the Iowa loss – weren't they all – Buckley was the lone bright spot, rushing for 99 yards on 17 carries. The redshirt freshman showed his lofty ability in a small sample size, but, in another sad twist, lost his season to a left knee injury during the Nebraska game. He'll still be a vital part of this offense in future seasons.

November 2— Kellogg launches Hail Mary

This one was inexcusable: With the outcome all but locked up in favor of Northwestern, walk-on Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg lofted up a prayer. And you remember the rest. Jordan Westerkamp hauled in the pass after getting behind the NU defense and celebration ensued in Lincoln. This, of all things, may remain the lasting image of NU's season.

November 16— Michigan pulls off running field goal

Stuck at 0-5 in conference play, this was Northwestern's chance to reach bowl eligibility. Michigan's offense stumbled for much of the day, but the Wildcats missed several opportunities at interceptions that would have closed it out. Instead, Devin Gardner led an improbable drive late in regulation. It culminated in Brendan Gibbons' field goal as time expired. The holder slid into place. The Wolverines eventually won in overtime.

November 20— Dareian Watkins' scholarship pulled

There was one loss on the recruiting trail, with Dareian Watkins abandoning his Northwestern commitment. Disciplinary issues and his visits to other schools led to Pat Fitzgerald's decision. He pulled his scholarship. Watkins – a four-star wide receiver – might very well have chosen to attend Wisconsin regardless. It's still a crucial loss on the trail for Northwestern.

November 30— Kain Colter misses finale

We end here. Best of luck to Kain Colter at whatever he does. It didn't end as planned, what with the seven losses and an ill-timed shoulder injury sustained during the Michigan State game. Though Siemian threw with success and led the victorious effort, everything about Saturday's win felt wrong without Colter at the helm. He'll be remembered as an essential piece to this program; he's a tough character to forget.


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