Last year <b>Northwestern</b> rolled out a bunch of freshmen to play defense in the Big 10.<br><br> The results were not pretty. This year the D may be up and down, but at home, the <b>Cats</b> have suddenly started to play everyone tough. The players call it <b>Lockdown.</b>

You have to admit it -- the NU Defense is playing much better than last year....

Back at the NGN Auction, one of the defensive assistants told me that the new Northwestern Defense was going to attack the ball. He admitted that they were going to get burned from time to time [have we ever been burned] but the defense was going to be much better this year.

It seems to have worked; the Mild version of the Wildcat Defense gave up 41+ points and 502+ yards a game last year.

But in the last few home games, this version of the Wildcat Defense has been stepping up - they've allowed just 14 points. And you could attribute 7 of those points -- one TD to a blown call

The away game points? Chalk that up to the team being on the field too long.

These Cats fly to the ball, using their speed to get to and tackle the runners. By any measure, NU's defense is better this year, a lot better.

Then there's the "Ball and Chain Thing." --

"Some of the Defensive guys, they talk about lockdown, its a theme, its a symbolic gesture...of lockng down the opponent, and they get the chain out and they're locking down the opponents' offense." [Randy Walker on the teleconference]
Senior Safety Torri Stuckey is credited with starting it. Walker says its not official, the coaches didn't come up with it, but its something the players use, much like helmet awards, to get themselves, the defense fired up during games:
"its amazing what symbolism takes place in our games."
And they've been using "lockdown" to beat good teams, and hold others close.

This week its two big targets at Ryan on ESPN; John Navarre -- a QB that originally committed to Gary Barnett and the Wildcats, but changed his mind when Barnett bolted for Colorado and Chris Perry, one of the top running backs in the Big 10 and the NCAA.

Talking about Navarre - Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has said, "He's matured, he's a person of great mental strength and toughness. He's become an outstanding leader, and an outstanding quarterback."

Of course you could say the same thing about Pat Durr over on the Wildcat side of the ball, in fact you can say that about most of the NU defense this year. Maybe the quote from Purdue's Joe Tiller says it all, "Man, you guys are playing hard."

Hey Joe, You can call it "Lockdown."

-- da Coach

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