Good Cat, Bad Cat: Minnesota

Risers and fallers from the Wildcats’ crushing loss to the Golden Gophers.

Good Cats

Trevor Siemian

The oft-maligned quarterback put together his best and most confident game of the season Saturday, completing 32 of 50 passes for 269 yards and two total touchdowns. Siemian’s first incompletion came in the second quarter on a deflating drop by Pierre Youngblood-Ary downfield, and overall, the senior’s sideline balls were laser sharp. There were a few questionable throws into tight windows, but Siemian committed just one pick all afternoon — on the last-second Hail Mary. That fourth-down conversion to Kyle Prater with three minutes to play was a beauty.

Justin Jackson

Not too much more can be said about this kid. The freshman Jackson is already looking like a reliable workhorse anchoring NU’s backfield, going for 106 yards on 4.6 YPC and putting the team on the board with a wheel route touchdown reception. Jackson told reporters this week that his goal was to improve in pass blocking, and he seemed to do just that Saturday.

Kyle Prater

Yes, Prater dropped the finger-tip fourth-down ball, but the senior made a few exceptional catches over the middle of the field, including that 19-yard grasp that the refs tried to call back. His six catches and 58 yards lead all Northwestern receivers.

Chi Chi Ariguzo

It had been a (relatively) quiet past few games for Northwestern’s star linebacker. But Saturday, Ariguzo notched a team-high 12 tackles and lead a run defense that absolutely shut down touted Minnesota running back David Cobb. The NU front seven still looks sharp.

Nick VanHoose

The secondary wasn’t entirely up to par in this one, but VanHoose continues to impress as the team’s No. 1 corner. More than a month after getting burned on two touchdowns against Cal, VanHoose recorded an interception and helped hold Gopher receivers to a combined 84 yards.

Bad Cats

Offensive playcalling

There are plenty of receivers to point the finger at: Dan Vitale posted an awfully Dan Vitale-esque four catches for 23 yards, Tony Jones caught just three balls, and Cameron Dickerson was nonexistant all afternoon. But blame is most appropriately pinned on the game plan, which had Northwestern attempting to move downfield in three-to-five yard passing chunks. When Siemian was allowed to let loose, he looked excellent, but far too often the offense looked timid. Aside from the 13-play, 97-yard drive, Northwestern’s offense never looked particularly settled, and the team’s longest play was just 21 yards.

Matthew Harris and Godwin Igwebuike

The stats don’t look bad, but Harris frustratingly allowed large cushions in coverage. He was particularly picked on in the second half, got beat on comebacks and sideline routes, and took a step back from his dominant Wisconsin peformance. Speaking of...Igwebuike was to blame for Maxx Williams’ 52-yard reception, and caught a facemask penalty in the process.

Kick coverage

Maybe too obvious, but Jalen Myrick’s return touchdown is what gave Minnesota the win. Just seconds after the Wildcats tied the game with the memorable 97-yard drive, the Gophers sunk NU with a 100-yard score through pourous and disorganized return coverage. Surprisingly, Jack Mitchell was not Northwestern’s special teams problem in this one.

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