Is it really time for football?

As we all gear up for the 2003 Football Season, let's review the Purple Reign coverage of the Wildcats, and take a quick look at the first 4 opponents...

I've heard from a full cross section of Northwestern Fans over the past couple of weeks.
Everything from "this is Randy's last year," to the Cats go undefeated and Randy elected Coach for Life.

However, the source I trust the most told me that NU came out of Kenosha with a few knicked up Linebackers, and the ever present concern over depth on the offensive line. They do feel they have 4 of the 5 positions locked down and they're one guard away from having the O-Line they think they need.

I also have a "feeling" that one or the other Frosh centers will get into games, which will give us an interesting mix of O-linemen, but those frosh need to stay healthy so they can practice. I really suspect that the 2 deep on Sept 27th will be different than the 2 deep many folks are predicting now.

So, while we wait for the "official" pregame 2 deep, here's a few tidbits gleaned from reading all the non-conference opponents web sites lately:

Kansas:
Most writers don't have a clue about how well the Jayhawks will play this year, but they are impressed with the change in attitude around the football program. Much talk about their defensive coordinator, and the strength and conditioning coach. However, several of their highly touted JUCO linemen are either injured or already gone.

The receiving corps is taller, but still an unknown. Same with the defense. Personally, I'm glad we're playing them first, since they could be a pretty good team after a few games.

Air Force:
Revenge time in Evanston - I'm reading stories about starters being replaced, kids playing who didn't play last year, and comments from the coach at Air Force, Fisher DeBerry, that the team lacks "focus." They had Bo Schembechler speak to the team Saturday.

DeBerry is worried about the Falcons slipping backward. I know Pat Durr intends to make that happen. Lots of new players will be in their second game at NU, and that stud linebacker is sitting out a redshirt year at dOSU.

Miami of Ohio:
This is the real "stealth" team, since nobody I can find is covering their preseason workups, etc.  Even their Insider site is quiet. Could be that "landmine" team, but they've had a bunch of distractions in the off season.

The only coverage I can find is on their official site, which has a story about their Junior QB - Ben Roethlisberger - who is ranked 23rd in the country. He has a deep threat in WR Martin Nance. He's being touted as a Heisman Candidate.

They open at Iowa - should be a good indication of how they'll play in 2003.

Duke:
Nobody is worried about Duke yet, but they could be 3-0 by the time we face them down at their place. Then again, they won their 1st game last year, then dropped 3 in a row, finishing 2-10.

The team is still smarting over poor coverage by their defensive secondary, and have had a few starters transfer, but the bulk of the team returned.

Officially the Dookies are pushing their running back tandem of Chris Douglas and Alex Wade along with their wide receivers.  As with the 'Cats, Duke is taking the offense route.


I'm not sure about our final record, and I really don't think Randy Walker is about to get fired, so all I can do next is review how we cover NU football around Purple Reign....

Pregame:
1. We try to provide a full list of links to reports about both Northwestern and this week's opponent in the NU Sports News Digest which you can find on the front page every day.
2. We'll report any real news we hear about the team through the Hot News or front page stories. We pass on anything substantive, but we won't pass on rumors.
3. Every Friday, we have our weekly Pregame Intel Report which is a compilation of news stories from the opponents media. Its all out there, but we put it together for you.

During the Game:
Everyone is invited to join in a Purple Reign tradition, the game chat, hosted on Purple Reign.  You hit the front page, click "Listen to WGN" down on the left side, then click Chat from the front page - yes you have to be a registered member, but then you can join in the chat, which appears to be very very stable.

Postgame:
1. We'll have postgame commentary and analysis available.
2. Expect to see highlights of the Postgame Press Conference up after the game.
3. We expect to have full transcripts of the weekly Big 10 Teleconference Monday night or Tuesday.
4. Our regular Cat Chat will be held Monday nights at 8 PM Central [9 Eastern, 7 Mountain, 6 West Coast]

And there we are so far

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