Iowa gets shocked in 3 OT, Penn State gets blasted by Alabama and Jerry Kill’s health sent shockwaves across CFB. It was a tough day in the Big Ten all around, so a ho-hum 3 TD win over an FCS team isn’t all that bad in retrospect. However, we’re a long way from feeling good enough to beat Illinois, Michigan, or for that matter, Army.
As it relates to NU, we’re simply not deep enough to continue to sustain injuries. Kain Colter is getting way too close to getting injured, which we simply can’t afford and I’m a tad scared by this Sun-Times article discussing the fact he hurt his throwing shoulder (I saw him bleeding and getting a cut attended to on the sideline). Adonis Smith sure looked like he was injured and with Persa, Trumpy, Dinardo, Ellis, Tony Jones and others already on the sideline, the dinged-up factor is way too high for two weeks in to the season. We’ll all be watching the injury report closely, although with the shroud of secrecy surrounding it, we may not know how thin we are until kickoff next week at Army. Let’s recap the game.
NU Athletics & 9/11 Tribute – Does NU marketing get an A+ or what? The pregame ceremony today was as good as it gets for a non-soldout game. Throw in the challenge of 9/11 tributes and the difficult dance of mixing sport with paying tribute to our country’s most tragic moment in most of our lifetimes and you’ve got to hand it to NU. The “N” was an American flag version as was the “N” on the helmets and the band uniforms. It was classy and just felt right. The atmosphere for the pregame was pretty inspiring and when you throw in the high school band day element at half time it was downright stirring at times. Well done, NU.
Team Rushing – Call it conservative, call it vanilla, call it what you want. Northwestern posted its third consecutive rushing total of 200+ and even eclipsed the 300-yard mark with Kain Colter leading the way with 109 yds on the ground and three rushing TDs. The ‘Cats RB by committee approach was successful, yet, with Trumpy sidelined due to a concussion and Adonis Smith getting injured today, our committee is getting much smaller. The gameplan was pretty simple – run it down Eastern Illinois’ throat. Misson accomplished.
Kain Colter in space – Yes, Colter is that important that elements of his game will find themselves in different categories. However, when Kain Colter rushes and finds space he is simply brilliant. He HAS to learn to protect himself better as Eastern Illinois brought the lumber and Colter can’t continue to expose himself and expect to make it through the season unscathed. He got crushed on his final TD, right in front of me and you could see the blood on his face from the hit. He is tough, and he was something on the ground.
Venric Mark KOR – It’s just a matter of time before Mark busts one to the house on a kickoff return and as he almost did so twice today. Mark busted a 63-yard KOR that setup the dagger TD and had 3 returns for 120 yards which is deceiving since the final KOR included him falling on the ball since time was expiring. Mark also busted a 50+ yard return as well. The guy is simply electric.
Rush “D” Minus One Play – For the second week in a row the ‘Cats defensive line was very good. With one exception – last week it was the very first play from the line of scrimmage (and was actually a safety’s fault) while this week it was nearly the final play of the game as we coughed up a 73-yard garbage time rush. The ‘Cats, until that point had given up only 56 yards on 24 carries. The final stat line shows we gave up 132 rushing yards on 26 carries. EIU’s average of 5.1 ypc is beyond deceiving.
The OL – The only thing separating this unit from being “great” was the penalties. We had several false starts and a couple of key holding calls including one that negated a Kain Colter beauty of a run. Colter had ALL day to pass in the pocket, and if there is such a thing, he had too much time as he held on to the ball way too long in certain situations. There were no sacks that were complete OL breakdowns.
Responding to Adversity – Fitz always talks about responding and we did just that. We seemed to be out of sync a tad today and we had three offensive penalties in the first quarter, but were able to still respond. We missed a FG and shanked a punt, but each time we responded. It’s never good to give up plays, but we responded fairly well in a game that was rather sloppy.
Demetrius Fields – Demetrius was the leading receiver on the day with a mere 41 yards on 3 rec but he made some highlight level plays. Fields took two fantastic shots on catches including one over the middle play that rang his bell.
Treyvon Green – The freshman RB scored his first career TD, nearly busted a huge TD run and had some solid carries. Treyvon, like several of his teammates seem to be anticipating contact as opposed to busting through the line. He averaged 5.0 ypc and put up 70 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first real significant time. He may be called on to be huge next week if Adonis and Trumpy aren’t able to go.
Tyris Jones’ Redemption – Early in the game Colter bootlegged and found Tyris Jones WIDE open in the endzone and threw a perfect pass to #34 that Jones dropped. It was clear the sun was in his eyes, but you just felt for the guy. It was great to see Jones haul iI wasn the very first TD reception of the year in nearly the same exact spot from sophomore Trevor Siemian. Congrats to both.
Eastern Illinois’ Hitting – Give credit where credit is due. This Panther team can really put the hurt on you and several ‘Cats will be very impressed as they ice down tomorrow. I was really impressed by Coach Spoo’s team’s ability to really hit hard. Colter, Fields and others got shellacked on several plays.
Brian Peters on Special Teams – Peters was downright incredible on special teams’ coverage, particularly in the first half.
Attendance – 28,042. Yech. It sure FELT like we eclipsed the 30,000 mark with the Band Day section filling up the entire corner and the end zone relatively full. I really have a hard time believing there were 19,000 empty seats. I would’ve guessed 32,000 based on the naked eye. What did you think?
Colter’s Pass Timing – Kain had a great stat line – 15 carries/109 yds rushing, 3 TDs, 10/13 passing 104 yds 0TD, 0INT. However, Colter held the ball wayyyy too long on several occasions.
Defensive Pass Rush – Really? When are we going to drop the 3-man rush and realize it simply isn’t working. Eastern Illinois had all day to throw and even when we flushed Jimmy Garoppolo, we couldn’t close the deal. I’m starting to fear what a team like Michigan will do with that kind of time, aren’t you? We are bigger, quicker and savvier, yet couldn’t get to Garoppolo. Unacceptable.
Jeremy Ebert Connection – It’s a shame that Ebert got a goose egg in the reception category. It’s clear the chemistry simply isn’t there yet with Colter and Ebert. You know he’s got to be excited for Persa to get back under center.
Overall Discipline – The ‘Cats racked-up five penalties but they seemed to come in droves. Plus, an awful looking FG, a shanked punt and of course two HUGE explosion plays that led to 14 points point to the fact we’ve got a long way to go. Don’t look now, but Illinois is starting to pick up steam. EIU and Illinois are two planets away in terms of talent. We’ve got to limit the explosion plays.
- NU Passing – 12/16 (Colter 10/13, Siemian 2/3), 117 yds (7.3 ypp), 1 TD (Siemian – career 1st)
- NU Rushing – 67 carries, 320 yds, 5 TDs (4.8 ypc)
- NU Rushing Indivdual – Colter – 15 car, 109 yds, 3 TD, 7.3 ypc; Treyvon Green – 14 car, 70 yds, 1 TD, 5.0 ypc; 11 car, 57 yds 1 TD, 5.7 ypc; Adonis Smith – 17 car, 55 yds, 3.2 ypc; Tyris Jones – 7 car, 21 yds, 1 TD (rec) 3.0 ypc
- NU Receiving – Fields 3 rec, 41 yds; Dunsmore 2 rec, 26 yds; A. Smith 3 rec, 24 yds; Moulton 1 rec, 12 yds; Schmidt 1 rec, 10 yds; Green 1 rec, 3 yds; Tyris Jones 1 rec, 1 yd, 1 TD
- NU Defense – total tackles – McNaul 7, Matthews 6, Browne & Campbell 4 each; sacks – Browne 1, Williams .5, Watt .5
- NU Defense Totals – total yds – 341; 209 passing, 132 rushing
- NU Penalties – 5 – 40 yds
- 3rd Down – 8/13 offense; 4/10 defense
- TOP: 36:22 NU, 23:44 EIU
Big Ten’s Bad Day
The headline story of the day was clearly Jerry Kill’s seizure which rocked the team, fans and even viewers in the Gophers now seemingly insignificant 28-21 loss to a horrific New Mexico State program. Here are the headlines of the other games:
Iowa State 44 – Iowa 41 3 OT
The Cyclones Steel Jantz spearheaded a game-tying drive late in the 4th and the Cyclones won the trophy no one wanted in Ames. The Hawkeyes surrendered 473 yards of offense in the loss.
Alabama 27 Penn State 11
The Penn State “D” played solid, but the platooning QBs for the JoePas couldn’t get it going. The SEC wins yet again.
Ohio State 27 Toledo 22
The Buckeyes were taken to the brink as it took a final drive stand to stave off what would’ve been the first loss to an in state team since Oberlin in 1921.
Illinois 55 South Dakota State 3
Yes, it was only an FCS opponent, but watch out for the conference enigma, Illinois, which seems to have carbon copied the NU blueprint today as the Illini put up 364 yards on the ground (50 carries) against the Jackrabbits, our 2012 home FCS opponent. Scheelhaase and Colter had nearly identical numbers today. The Illini scare me.
Michigan State 44 Florida Atlantic 0
Kirk Cousins was steady with 186 yds, 2 TDs, but this one was all about “D” as Sparty gave up one, yes one, first down. MSU is 2-0.
Wisconsin 35 Oregon State 0
How good is Wisconsin? Russell Wilson looked brilliant again with an 189 yds, 3 TD day on 17/21 for the day. I’m giddy we don’t play them this year.
Nebraska 42 Fresno State 29
The Huskers can thank Ameer Abdullah for returning a kickoff 100-yds to the house after the Bulldogs closed to within two in the 4th. Nebraska survives a semi-scare like we thought they would.
Virginia 34 Indiana 31
The Hoosiers drop to 2-0 despite a 21-point 4th quarter and yet another good stats day for QB Edward Baker-Wright (272 yds passing). The Hoosiers actually blew an 8-point lead in the final 96 seconds as UVA scored a game-winning FG as time expired. Ugh.
Rice 24 Purdue 22
The Owls blocked a Carson Wiggs FG as time expired for their – get this – first BCS win in 22 attempts. Rice hadn’t beat a Big Ten team since NU in 1997. NU faces Rice on November 12 at Ryan Field.
Michigan 35 Notre Dame 31
If you missed this one, shame on you. Go find it. Dear God, if I’m an NU CB right now my jaw is dropping. Whoa.
UCF 30 BC 3
So much for our season-opening win being THAT good. BC got THUMPED by Central Florida, who held Chase Rettig and BC to 84 passing yards and 141 total yards while getting blitzed for an NU-like 235 yards. This is NOT good and makes you reconsider just what it was we did last week.
San Diego State 23 Army 20 (0-2)
The Black Knights dominated in nearly every facet of the game. Army owned TOP with 42 minutes of possession and put up 403 rushing yards yet they lost the only category that really matters. All of a sudden our tough non-conference schedule is not looking so hot in the W-L column. Army