Defensive Shuffles?

Northwestern put up some impressive numbers on offense last week, scoring 38 points, but they also allowed Northern Illinois 37 and almost lost the game in the last seconds. Most observers look to NU to have to improve on defense as the Cats head into a big game with Arizona State, and apparently NU Coach Randy Walker agrees...

You could hear it throughout the post game interviews

Even after the win over NIU, Walker expressed concern with ASU -
they're a good football team, you know everybody's picking them to be in the mix in the PAC 10, they're on everybody's top 20 list - so they're a good football team. [WGN Postgame]
But again, Walker talked the need for improvement...
Once again, our kids know too that we need to improve, we didn't play as sharp as I'd like to see us - there were some things that got away from us.
So during the Big 10 Teleconference, we asked Coach Walker about the defense as they prepare for a team the Cats have never beaten.
No question, we're playing a very good football team - an offense that able to score on anybaody, move the ball in a lot of different ways - our defense is going to be tested - they present a number of problems.

[QB] Sam Keller [Jr 6-4 230] has stepped in and I am very impressed iwth this kid. He started int he bowl game against Purdue last year and had a good day, and he has come out of the blocks this year and he is making all kinds of plays everywhere. [Big 10 Teleconference]
In just 3 games, Keller has passed for 1,039 yards and 11 TDs.
And of course you've got guys like [#80 - WR] Derek Hagan [Sr 602 202] and [#17] Terry Richardson [Jr 6-1 187] to throw to, and a great all around all purpose running back in [#3] Rudy Burgess [So 5-11 181]. A good verteran offensive line, great tight ends -- they just have a lot of weapons and its going to be very difficult, not only on our corners, but our defense.

We're going to have to play -- we're going to have to make some big strides this week as a defensive football team, I think our kids are up for that challenge.

I don't think they're entirely pleased with the way the season has gone at this point, and the steps they've made - I really think we're going to have a great week out of them and I think they know they're going to have to have a great week to hold up against Arizona State.
So where does he see the need to improve - the pass rush or in the defensive backfield?
Pass defense is not just two corners or four DBs or the 7 or 8 guys you drop, its a lot of things.

I've never seen many quarterbacks yet,  who could throw real well on their back and if we can put him on their back that's still the best pass defense.

Pressure is the next best thing, if you can get them throwing off their back foot and under duress, you have a better thing, better situation.

If you give a good quarterback a chance to pitch off the mound and make relaxed throws and shoot, he's going to make some shots, everybody we play is going to make shots, so we obviously have to improve our pass rush, but we also need to tighten things up in the back half .
One bright spot for the Cats will be the return of Herschel Henderson, a more experienced player at right corner. Another is the continued improvement of speedy Brendan Smith at strong safety.

There are also reports that Kevin Mims, Demetrius Eaton and Eddie Simpson are also working on the pass rush. Probably missing this week with Corey Wootton who is reported as questionable due to a neck injury.
Its just another week of growth and hopefully we can make those steps.
The bottom line?

Expect a new, more fierce pass rush from the Wildcats Saturday, and maybe a few new schemes using some of the quicker players.

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