AFter PSU: Monday 2-Deep and Injuries

Northwestern's search for a starting quarterback continues, with the frosh who started the first 4 games still listed as questionable. We've got a bit of analysis on the subject. Then there are a few defensive trends to contemplate, plus injuries as we check out the NU Wildcats on the Monday before Wisconsin...

Coming off a tough weekend loss
Cat fans got to see Andrew Brewer at QB while the starter for the previous 4 games, Mike Kafka patrolled the sidelines with RS Soph QB, C.J. Bacher.

The problem for the coaches is that the two redshirt frosh were supposed to push last year's backup, C.J. Bacher this year, but Bacher has spent the first 3-4 games on the "injured list." Bacher is still considered the best of the passers - he's not a bad runner either - but that stress fracture in his throwing leg limits his mobility, a mobility he showned as Brett Basanez's backup in Spring games in the past.

Talking about his QB situation, NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald was quoted in the Sun-Times, "Those three players are light years ahead of a majority of players who have come through this program at their ages, especially at their position.'"

Brewer is presently listed as the #1, but this week the word "or" is sandwiched between Mike Kafka and Bacher on the 2 deep. There is also a lot of speculation that Brewer could follow fellow QB recruit Eric Peterman over to coach Kevin John's wide receivers. Can you say "slash?"

With another QB, true frosh Joe Mauro runnng the scout team well, C.J. needs to show what he can do in a game if he wants to stay in the hunt for the starting job. The problem is that he needs to get on the field and right now, the coaches feel he's not ready.

One other change was that for the 2nd straight week, the Cats officially started their defense in a 4-3, with Adam Hahn and John Gill playing in the center and Corey Wootton and David Ngene at the ends.

NU's defensive coaches are on record as wanting to eventually move to a 3-4, but Penn State's O-Line showed Saturday why a 3 man rush sometimes can't get enough pressure on the QB to get the passing game stopped.

NU's 3-4 is apparently a work in progress -fans have seen it shut down a passing game, and get picked apart. The truth in all of the defensive coverages is that without a good pass rush, a good QB will pick NU's secondary apart.

Wisconsin's senior QB John Stocco is a player who fits that description.
Changes to the 2 Deep
Biggest change on Offense is Brewer listed as the #1 QB, followed by Mike Kafka "OR" C.J. Bacher. The "or" maybe suggesting that Bacher might be getting closer to seeing game action.

On Defense, the Cats have switched Free Safeties Brendan Smith and Brad Phillips to Strong Safety, moving Reggie McPherson and Ben Ruthrauff to the Free Safety side.
Injuries
Primary injury is Mike Kafka, listed as Questionable. Bryan Heinz is also listed on the questionable list.

Once again there's a list of mainly defenders, and theose names are unchanged from last week. Nick Roach did sit out much of the 2nd half last week, but he's back on his "will" LB spot on the 2 deep.
Final Analysis
The Game Notes point out that NU's Defense is now 52nd nationally in yards per game allowed - in the top half of the list. Tht Cat's Pass defense is 50th allowing 184 ypg.

Last year the NU defense got better as the year went on. If they continue that trend, the ability to keep PSU out of the end zone in the first half should continue with the rest of the Big 10.

But I'd figure that teams will start to go for long scoring plays against the Wildcats - trying to burn the Cats in single coverage with lots of field to run patterns. Joe Paterno's game plan obviously had that idea, but NU managed to keep them out of the end zone for a half.

NU's fate this year on defense may be to be thrown on long for the rest of the season until they develop a better pass rush.

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