Northwestern Wildcats as they prepare for the 2005 season, and the public road to Ohio University starts next Wednesday.

What are the NU Coaches looking for from the team, and who might become the next standout player? Purple Reign is taking a stab at the 3 areas the coach has identified as needing work as Spring Practice begins in Evanston.
"> Northwestern Wildcats as they prepare for the 2005 season, and the public road to Ohio University starts next Wednesday.

What are the NU Coaches looking for from the team, and who might become the next standout player? Purple Reign is taking a stab at the 3 areas the coach has identified as needing work as Spring Practice begins in Evanston.
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Time For Spring Ball - Part 1

There are a lot of big shoes to fill for the <font color="#330033"><b>Northwestern Wildcats</b></font> as they prepare for the 2005 season, and the public road to <b>Ohio University</b> starts next Wednesday.<br> <br> What are the <b>NU </b>Coaches looking for from the team, and who might become the next standout player? <font color="#330033"><b>Purple Reign</b></font> is taking a stab at the 3 areas the coach has identified as needing work as Spring Practice begins in Evanston.<br>

NU Head Coach Randy Walker has outlined 3 things the coaches need to accomplish this spring...
  1. Constructing an offensive line that we feel comfortable with heading into preseason
  2. The progression of the Defense
  3. Special Teams, especially Kickers and Punters. [Quotes from NU Sports]
Over the next few days, we'll examine each of these areas, and touch on where some of the new recruits might fit in.
The O-Line
Lost 3 two year starters this year, and the man who knew how to slip through the holes inside. Matt Ulrich, Trai Essex and Ikechuku Ndukewe were expected to use their size and experience to blast holes all last season, and provide a solid wall to allow QB Brett Basanez time to throw a few bombs.

Mostly, that happened, although the Cats seemed to break down with silly holding penalties at times. We could almost count on a drive stopping holding call in the first half last year, and while Basanez was mobile enough to avoid the rush, he did get slammed enough to cause watchers to wonder if he'd come back in a few times.

O-Line Coach James Patton has plenty of candidates for the front 5 - its getting the right 5 up front on opening day that we'll have to talk about.
The Defense
Started last year without one of its main pass rushers up front when Loren Howard messed up [is that a true medical term] his ankle in practice the weekend before the first game. The D-Lines' troubles were further compounded when tackle Luis Castillo injured his left elbow - essentially crippling NU's Pass Rush.

I can remember all the screaming about how bad our D-Backs were because we were passed on early and often. Yes, there were a few blown plays, but when the opposing QB can sit back and wait before throwing the ball - any pass defense will become porous.

The challenge for D-Line coach Eric Washington will be to shuffle the guys up front to get a decent pass rush.

There's also a cornerback to replace, and a loss of depth at safety, but we'll touch on that down the road.
The Kicking Game
It was dismall for the first half of the season.

It got a little better.
Yup, there's a lot to talk about heading into the Spring Drills -
We'll continue the discussion in Part II - It All Starts Where? Friday


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