Army’s Deliberate Offense, Knocks NU Off Colter

EDITOR NOTE: The full Sailgate recap and some in person LTP observations will be good to go after I land back in Chitown after a way too early flight.   Thanks to everyone who joined us for the incredible day.  We did our part as fans, anyway – an Army official at the ticket office told me they estimated the NU contingent right about at 10,000. 

Pat Fitzgerald said time of possession would be important. He warned us all that if Northwestern could not keep its offense on the field and keep Army’s offense off the field, things could go wrong in West Point.

The Wildcats and Black Knights are almost polar opposites when it comes to offensive philosophies. NU wants to get off as many plays as possible as quickly as possible, tiring out defenses with its speed. Army wants to run as few plays as possible and strain its opponents minds and muscle with the triple option and a cloud of dirt.

Army easily won time of possession. Working the clock down following a masterful 3-play, 80-yard drive from Trevor Siemian, playing in relief of Kain Colter (get the pun?). Trent Steelman worked his offense methodically down the field, leaving Northwestern players seemingly gasping for air and cramping up.

Steelman ran the ball in for his third touchdown of the game with two minutes and fifty seconds remaining to give the Knights a 21-14 lead that would become the final score. It came after a nine-play, 75-yard drive that took three minutes off the clock. It was one of the shorter drives of the game for Army, but the big plays that came on that game-winning drive were because of the work the Knights did throughout the game.

The Knights held the ball for an amazing 40 minutes and 19 seconds. Northwestern certainly fought Army for each yard, sometimes winning the battle on the line sometimes losing. But in the end, the quick attack offense for Northwestern may have been the team’s undoing today. The Wildcats defense just did not seem to have enough in them to finish this game out.

The offensive execution was not there for most of the day and it was evident in Pat Fitzgerald’s eventual decision to pull Kain Colter with the game on the line. Colter was 12 for 23 for 89 yards, but seemingly fell in love with the long ball after completing his first touchdown pass of the year, a 14-yard strike to Jeremy Ebert in the back of the end zone in the second quarter.

The incompletions began to mount in the third quarter and Northwestern’s offense completely stalled. It allowed Army to grind the game out and thin the Wildcats’ margin for error. With a Knights team that held the ball for more than two-thirds of the game, the Cats needed to score on just about every drive they had.

That was asking too much for Colter today. He was more patient in the pocket, but was not on target with his throws or was making the wrong reads. NU’s offense is built on rhythm, pace and timing. When incompletions mount and the team gets behind the chains, it becomes very ineffective. Colter is still learning how to recover from hiccups in the offense. That comes with experience. And that experience was needed in this game to control the ball and keep Army’s difficult offense off the field.

This team needs the experience Dan Persa can provide. And the bye week is pretty welcome right now for NU to get Persa, who was active and able to play in an emergency Saturday, back into game shape and to have the defense work to correct some of the mistakes in this game that will carry over into the Illinois game in two weeks.

The Good

Jeremy Ebert catches a touchdownJeremy Ebert: We have been putting an APB on Ebert all season. Colter and Ebert just have not had great chemistry together and the two have not been able to hook up like Persa and Ebert seemed to. That might be because Ebert was great at anticipating where Persa would go to stretch the plays and would find a way to get open. Colter has opted to tuck the ball and run.

NU seemed to be trying to force the ball to Ebert a little more this time around. Ebert got a few looks on some bubble screens to varying success early. But Ebert really got going after Colter’s bullet of a pass to Ebert streaking toward the back of the end zone for NU’s first score. From there, it seemed like the old Ebert was back.

He finished with six receptions for 108 yards. That included catching a nice underneath rout from Trevor Siemian that he took 62 yards to the house to tie the game. That score might have come too quick for a defense that desperately needed a break from the disciplined blocking of Army. But you cannot complain too much when your offense puts points on the board, especially considering how much it struggled to find a rhythm all game.

Trevor Siemian: So, when we talk rhythm, we definitely talk about getting quick underneath passes and staying ahead of the chains. That was something Kain Colter simply was not doing today.

So in stepped the redshirt freshman from (my hometown) Windermere, Florida with his team down seven points and the weight of the game on his shoulders. He quickly hit Drake Dunsmore for an eight-yard gain. Then found Rashad Lawrence for 10. All on the kind of underneath routs we have come to expect from Northwestern. He kept the offense moving, something Colter was not doing.

Siemian completed five for seven passes for 105 yards. That was exactly what Northwestern needed him to do. He was efficient and quick. It may have been asking a lot for him to lead a two-minute drill with the game on the line down seven points. He got Northwestern to the Army 33 yard line before his fourth-and-one pass fell incomplete at Jeremy Ebert’s feet.

That was your ball game, but Siemian was a pleasant surprise. And he may have reopened the quarterback competition in the spring. At least, keep that in the back of your head when that approaches.

Bryce McNaul: McNaul had a great return to West Point. He fought off a variety of injuries to lead Northwestern with 15 tackles. It seemed like he was in on just about every play too. NU’s defense was all over the place throughout the day. We will get to them in just a moment. But McNaul was certainly the bright spot. He developed into the team’s leader today if he was not it already. It will be on him to lead NU back after this loss.

The Bad

Bryce McNaul tackled Trent SteelmanDefense: Northwestern had its moments defensively in this game. It was really tough to tell whether the problems defensively were because of the the triple option offense Army ran, depth problems — Jack DiNardo was among the defensive players from the front seven that was out today — or if there were systemic problems.

Steelman did not do a whole ton of throwing so those questions about the secondary will have to wait a little while longer. The defensive line did not give up very many “big plays” until the end when the team was clearly tired from being on the field for so long.

Still, the defense looked like it had issues taking on the triple option and keeping Army behind the chains. Thus, Army had the ball for 40 minutes in this one. Northwestern did a decent job covering the first option, but the Knights opened up holes on the outside and Steelman always seemed to make the right decision on that second and third option. One player was there to force Steelman to keep the ball and go inside, but no one was there to stop Steelman.

By the end of the game, you could see everyone gasping for breath and starting to miss tackles. Those are problems the Wildcats need to correct. And they are not necessarily things that are solely on the defense. Moving forward, there is a lot to learn from this game.

Kain Colter: Colter had his moments where he looked every bit as brilliant as he has the last few weeks. He engineered the first drive deep into Army territory before NU had to punt. Then to end the first half, he set Northwestern up for a field goal. When he could get Northwestern moving consistently, he was good.

But this was the exception not the rule this week for Colter. He was not as brilliant and consistent as he has been this season. This will be a day for Colter to forget. He missed on a lot of throws and did not put his receivers in position to pick up yards or get first downs. He was definitely not on his game today — he had 10 rushes for 57 yards to go with two sacks and his 12-for-23, 89-yard passing performance.

Kicking and Punting: We may have had a flashback on special teams today. Jeff Budzien pushed a 26-yard field goal wide left to end the first half that would have been a major lift for Northwestern’s offense. Budzien will have to shake this miss off moving forward. Kicking can be important.

Brandon Williams had an OK day punting too. He had seven punts (a problem in itself) and was not very consistent with his kicks. He averaged 38.4 yards per punt and had a long of 68 yards. It was a decent day for Williams, so I don’t want to make it sound like it was a totally lost day for him. But NU needed more to switch field position and give the defense some room for error.

The Downright Ugly

Time Of Possession: Giving up 40 minutes in time of possession is simply unacceptable. Even if it is against a team that likes to hold onto the ball and take every second off the clock. Northwestern’s offense could not stay on the field and it lowered the margin for error.

The Wildcats had the ball in the fourth quarter for just two and a half minutes. That was enough for the three-play touchdown drive and the final 2:50 of the game as NU tried to make one final comeback. To say the least, NU needed to get Army off the field and possess the ball a bit more.

In this sense, maybe NU’s speed-it-up game hurt it this time around. It gave Army the ball faster and allowed Army to run the ball and take up time off the clock. The Wildcats, with Colter still feeling some growing pains and struggling to find his rhythm, needed to have the ball more.

The time of possession problems fall on everyone.

Final Thoughts: I had a bad feeling about this game because Army is such a strange team to play. Their schemes are very different than anything Northwestern is going to see all year. So how much of the struggles in this game do you want to leave to the opponent and how much to the Cats? That is a question Northwestern will have to answer in the coming weeks.

I am going to spin it positively. I think a lot of the problems today were the opponent. It felt like the Wildcats were overthinking their coverages on the option and not reacting like they should have. Without the threat of that option, NU’s defense should be able to settle in.

I am more worried about the offense. This was the first game NU faced real adversity on offense and Colter struggled to get the Cats back on track. That was the struggle for him and something he will grow into as a young quarterback.

On to the next, I guess…

Photos via DayLife.com.

  • DT

    You are correct in having been concerned about this game… Actually, similar game in many ways to the one Army won in a bowl in Dallas against SMU last year.. Make that point again- ARMY WON A BOWL GAME LAST YEAR…

    Hard to argue with your critique except to say IMO you are remiss in not taking the “O” line to task. As bad a game by that unit, be it pass or run block, not to mention stupid penalties as had taken place in the last couple years… They stunk…

  • jnvh

    To me the overwhelming theme for this loss is “refusing to change.” And there are two-point-five people that I think bear the brunt of this refusal to change:

    1) Mick McCall – he is good at coaching QBs in practice, but is a horrendous at calling plays, as he insists on going “by the book.” Run on two downs, throw for the third down. That worked in the first two games, but Army was determined to shut down NU’s running game, which they largely did, but McCall insisted on continuing to run. NU’s best playmakers are out wide. Get them the ball. Good things happened when pass plays were called – completions or Colter breaking the pocket were most of NU’s positive plays. But McCall stuck with what worked in previous weeks, and the ‘Cats scored only 14 points. I have many other complaints about McCall (like this one: you know you are going to have only 20+ minutes of T.O.P. against Army, so what exactly are you setting up with the run? I get that yo want to take some T.O.P. of your own against Army, but how about using simple outs, ins, curls and slants as the running game, like the spread is meant to) , but his insistence on sticking to the plan tonight was brutal to watch.

    P.S. Memo to Fitz and McCall: yes, NU has been good at running from the spread historically. But not anymore – when was the last time the NU line got a consistently good push throughout a season? 2007? 2006? So why not do something that works, like throwing the ball to your best playmakers , who happens to play WR (and Dunsmore), and then run off of that success. Just a thought.

    2) Mike Hankwitz – I was pleased when I saw only 3 down lineman to start the game, as it looked like Coach Hank had a plan to stop the triple option and wasn’t going to stick to the base formation against a unique offense. And truth be told, it was somewhat successful in the first half, as Army gained only 140 yards and scored only 7 points in the first half. But in the second half, as things started to break down for NU on defense and converted 3rd downs started to pile up, Hankwitz had no answer or adjustment. Even on the goal line he played the same formation he did all the way down the field. And that is the problem here – no adjustments, just sticking to the pre-game plan. No creeping safeties to put 9 men within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, no 4-man line, no extra ‘backers, nothing. It was obvious NU didn’t have an answer for the grinding Army offense, because Hankwitz couldn’t – or wouldn’t – come up with one.

    2.5) Kain Colter – I don’t want to pile on Colter too much, as this is only his 4th start, and he was bound to have a rough night at some point. NU could have won with his inconsistent passing anyway, as McCall wasn’t exactly putting Colter in position to succeed throwing the ball. Many of Colter’s throws were on 2nd and 3rd down in long yardage situations, when the defense is doing things to defend NU’s pass specifically, like blitz or play short zones. But this point is about Colter having so much success running out of the pocket in his previous 3 starts that he was always looking to take off tonight. If his first read was even remotely covered, he pulled it down. I noticed three or four times on the replay where Persa (or Kafka, or Bacher even), would have drilled a pass into a window or went to a second read, but Colter bailed. Army was clearly intent on stopping Colter’s scrambles, and Colter had a tough night. Colter exacerbated the problem by running sideways too much instead of putting his head down and finishing the play, but that is another matter.

    But let’s not all go jumping off the Colter bandwagon and onto the Siemian wagon. Siemian played well no doubt, but I have a feeling if McCall had called the same sequence of plays for Colter throughout the game as he did for Siemian (when teh book said to throw it, btw, so McCall did) it would have been a different story. The guy I feel for is Watkins – he is supposed to be the rocket-armed passer, and when we needed a rocket-armed passer in a comeback, he was still on the bench. But kudos to Watkins, as sideline shots showed him in the QB huddle and not down on himself because Siemian is in front of him on the depth chart.

    And ending on a positive – one more good to add is Jeravin Matthews. He had a whale of a game – consistently fighting off his larger WR blocker and making tackles or funneling the play back inside, and he had a key pass defensed early in the game to force a punt.

    All in all, I am even more frustrated with McCall and Hankwitz than I have been in some time, and as my brother-in-law can attest, that’s pretty frustrated. But the silver lining is NU can still win the B1G!

    Go ‘Cats.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    @jnvh

    Good point on the strategy. Northwestern does tend to get conservative and predictable when they are unsure of things. To me, it seemed like Northwestern overschemed for Army all around. That seems to be half the battle when playing a team like Army. You have to still play within yourself and your game plan while adding wrinkles to prepare for what the other team is going to throw at you. It seemed NU had a specific gameplan for this team and tried to stick to it rather than playing to their usual identity.

    This was a really tough game to judge. I agree the o-line had some issues. But it seemed like some bigger picture issues mattered more in this one.

  • David

    That was a terrible game. Colter was unable to get the offense in any rhythm. There were too many penalties on the OL and the OL did not move Army’s D-line off the ball. The defense performed about as I expected…but I was surprised by the poor offensive performance.
    – It was unfortunate on the one run of Colter’s…he had the corner and was about to make a huge run and the official cut off his angle and forced him back into the middle…into the arms of a defender.
    -With 5 seconds left in the half we should have thrown a quick slant into the endzone. It would have run a maximum of 2 to 3 seconds off the clock….TD or incomplete.
    -On the last drive if we were going to run the ball on 3rd and 2…we should have run it again on 4th and 1. I did not like the roll out pass with the Siemian.

    I couldn’t believe that the commentators on the BTN were discussing wheter Colter give NU a better chance of winning than Persa. I guess there is no QB controversey.

  • CatFanSeattle

    Yes, the defense let us down and didn’t play that well but let’s put the blame where it belongs which is on the offense. With 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter NU had scored 7 points. This is utterly unacceptable. If the Cat’s (and fans) think they are B1G title contenders, or even Bowl contenders, then the offense needs to play MUCH better than this. The O-line was completely dominated. Sure, play calling was poor but at the end of the day you have to beat the man in front of you and the O-line didn’t do it. The coaches should have recognized this sooner but the lineman failed in a big way. Very frustrating and a LOT to clean up before Illinois. Persa will make a difference IF he can play as well as last year which IMHO is no guarantee.

    Go Cats!

  • hudhaifa3

    CatFanSeattle you said it best. Offense let them down. I put the blame on the shoulders of Fitz and the OC. You play to your strengths. Northwestern has stud WR did it take them until 7 minutes left in the game and your back to the wall to figure out they need to get the ball to the WR’s in space. These guys can make play damnit. Let Colter run WR screens, slants, hitches. Why the hell they asked him to stand in the pocket and make precision passing trying to hit them on LONG passes to the sidelines was unreal. Even if he was making wrong reads they had 40 damn minutes on the sidelines to instruct him on what the RIGHT reads were. And they better recruit a RB soon, how is it that all or Army’s ballcarriers move the pile forward on initial contact and Northwestern’s go backwards. That is all about having heart and there was no lack of heart watching Army today………………NU hoops coaching staff gets destroyed on this site, give credit to FITZ and staff for having this team unprepared…………..10am in Germany and I think I need another drink…….

  • a42

    Biggest issue is that Colter got exposed for who his is at this point in his career. He’s probably more fit for playing in Army’s triple option than trying to run an NU passing attack. There were signs even going back to BC but his accuracy issues really lost the game. His main thing is every pass he throws sails high. Even on his TD pass it was only a great play by Ebert on a high pass that made that a completion. He also missed Ebert later when a CB fell and Ebert could have walked into the end zone untouched early in the 3rd quarter. The bye week comes at a good time because clearly this offense needs Persa back and healthy to make noise in the conference games. But on a positive note both Mike Kafka and Persa in recent years did not hit their stride with passing accuracy until later in their careers, so Colter has the time to get coached up and possibly be the QB down the road. But for now he’s not ready to be a full time starter.

  • AntiqueCat

    Always hard to lose a winnable game. A couple of probably incorrect guessing observations: DEFENSE: losing the TOP contest falls on the D, where our usual difficulty of stopping 3rd and long was fatal. Army seemed to cut block a lot, and that’s a legal if a little questionable way to overcome an opponent’s size advantage. You can’t make a play when you’re on the ground or your legs are tangles up with the O line’s shoulders. Other frustrated commenters have wondered why the NU D played so far off the LOS, and that might have been an effort to avoid the injuries that can come with being cut blocked all game. Given the 40 minutes that Army had the ball, it’s amazing they scored only the 3 TDs. Yes, there should have been a better defensive scheme. It’s also understandable for the coaches to decide not to come out of this game with serious injuries.
    OFFENSE: Why abandon the run so fast? Trumpy had 8 touches, Green 1. While the O line didn’t acquit itself well, they didn’t get much chance. Trumpy average yards were 4.2, which is fine if not brilliant. Why quit on the run? If Fitz knew TOP might be key, the run was the best way to control the game. Coming up empty on the first drive seems to have panicked the coaches.
    COACHES: So yeah, this is a coaching loss. The defense didn’t get the right scheme, the offense did not get the D any rest. Barnett used to say that the coach’s job was to put the team in a position to win, and sometimes to pull something wacky to change the game when things were going wrong. This week, the team just wasn’t put in the position to win. That’s a concern.

  • Alaskawildcat

    Hey, I know the game itself was a downer, but I’m already willing to chalk this one up to the woulda, coulda, shoulda category. What I was hoping so find in these comments was some reporting on the “gameday experience” by those of you who were able to make history as part of “Sailgate.” Is it true as reported elsewhere that the physical challenge of climbing the hills to the Stadium was underestimated and that it really took an hour into the game to get rehydrated? Looking forward to hearing the positives.

  • Jersey Cat

    First off, great job by LTP, the two Scotts, and all others involved with the planning, logistics, and execution of Sailgate. A great time, and their efforts are much appreciated.

    Game day experience at West Point was magnificent. Boat ride up was great. Campus is beautiful. Views overlooing the Hudson are majestic. Very cool parade where there’s no cheering before the national anthem is completely over, which is nice. Pageantry of the cadets marching in formation into the stadium. Seeing the cadets jump out of helicopters and parachuting onto the field with the game ball. All tremendous. Excellent job in procuring the First Class club for the tailgate. Terrific NU atmosphere, as it felt like we took over parts of campus.

    It was certainly a lot of uphill walking to the game, but if you heeded the multiple warnings, left yourself enough time, and took it easy, it wasn’t a big issue.

    The game was a disaster, and many will comment on how brutal it was, but I will say this…game aside, it’s hard not to be a fan of Army. Realizing what these young men and women do in serving our country after their time at West Point gives a differnt perspective. And everyone was so welcoming. I couldn’t count the number of times I heard, “Welcome to West Point,” or “Thanks for coming.” Cadets were all incredibly polite and helpful if asked for directions. Overall, a great gameday experience that I would recommend for everyone at some point, Sailgate or not.

  • PBRCat

    Good comments from all!

    What is most depressing or sobering, for me at least, is this loss continues Northwestern’s history of losing big, highly publicized, “marquee” games. The Wrigley Field game produced tons of press and the injured Cats were pounded by the Illini. NU was favored to beat Army, but came away empty after packing Michie Stadium.

    I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football while Lucy Van Pelt acts as the holder.

  • tim

    Great comments, so I’ll add a few random points-

    -LTP, you missed one on the kicking game. Flaherty’s kick-offs were all fielded on the 15 yard line. That is unacceptable. Need more leg.

    -Hated 3rd down play call on last drive, with Schmidt, head down and holding the ball like a 60’s high school fullback, going right into the stacked middle with NO CHANCE of a change of direction. Running game only worked when their D was spread out.

    -We get a turnover on their 30, first and ten, smelling points, and we go backwards.

    -The real “Sailgate” was Colter’s overthrowing receivers.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    An Army fan posted on the Scout message board and had nothing but good things to say about the Northwestern fans in attendance. It looked like a really neat atmosphere and there was definitely a lot of respect on both sides.

    I think all the observations here are correct. The team seemed like it was over-prepared for Army and it led to too much thinking on the field. That was the worst enemy.

    I compared it throughout the game to playing Bill Carmody’s Princeton offense. You have to prepare for it and the 1-3-1 and be ready to attack it. But if you are over thinking your attack, a well-executed back door cut will get you. That kind of strategy seemed to be what Army was employing to slow down Northwestern. And it worked perfectly.

  • vaudvillain

    It was a frustrating game and there are plenty of woulda coulda shoulda’s to point to. O-Line took a step back, offensive rhythm was spotty (we looked good on our two scoring drives and on the drive at the end of the first half that ended with a missed FG — if only there had been five more seconds on the clock so we could’ve taken one more shot at the end zone! — but aside from those three drives, we were surprisingly out of sorts), defense just couldn’t get Army off the field. That all said — we still had the ball in our hands for the last meaningful play of the game with a chance to tie things up. Don’t get me wrong — the loss hurts. But this isn’t a loss on the scale of Purdue, MSU, or PSU from last year. It’s one game, and the team and coaching staff have a bye to work on some of our issues. It looks like we’ll need that week — the conference as a whole is looking pretty shaky right now, but we start with Illinois — one of the few teams that actually looks good.

  • Jim B

    I fear we are no where near as good as we hope. Let’s face reality; BC is a winless horrible team this year, EIU is D2 and 1-2 beating IL st, Army got pounded by NIU, gave up 23 pts to SD St in a loss to them. We scored 14 pts against them!!! I hate to say it but I think this loss is more reflective of our talent level than the 2 wins. We got problems and we better fix them fast or we can kiss off our bowl hope.

    Good news is Persa expects to be back for IL. We’ll need him to be good because IL proved they are for real.

  • db

    A couple thoughts before you chalk this up to Army just being too goshdarn unique:

    1) BC is awful. And scoring 24 points in a college football game isnt exactly immense offensive success.

    2) Didnt exactly maul E. Illinois. Won that game because Colter was the best athlete on the field and sacrificed his body.

    This game is on McCall. Just an awful play calling charade. Guess what – colter is not a pocket passer. Also guess what – on 3rd and 4 with 1 minute left and no timeouts, you dont run schmidt up the middle.

    The defense is not capable of playing more than 30mins/game. Offense has to do their job.

    On D why on 3rd and 4th and 1 or less were we in a 3/4 with huge gaps? how do you stop a qb dive with 8 feet between linemen.

    The rugby kick was the only punt not off the side of his foot. The kickoffs were ridiculously short, with no wind.

  • db

    To whoever said with 5 seconds left in the first half they should have run a play – no, you cant assume you can run a play in less than 5 seconds. No play takes 2/3 seconds, and on the road any play will tick that clock off especially with whatever 5 year old was running the scoreboard yesterday. You need to make a 25 yard FG.

  • db

    And actually, I thought one of the biggest moments of the game was the call to punt on 4th and 5 from the 36 on the first drive. A punt does you nothing, and everyone knew the key to this game was to score early and make them get out of their game. We were moving the ball, and there was no risk to going for it there. Fitz has gotten better with these, but that was a bad idea in my opinion.

    With all due, proper and appropriate respect to the service academy, that game day experience was ridiculous. There was a 2 mile back up on the highway 4 hours before kickoff. The parking lot they were directing people to took an hour to get to. To get into the stadium they direct people into the gate where both teams are coming through + bands and cadets. And the scoreboard down and distance was wrong – and significantly so – at least 70% of the time.

    That doesn’t even address the clock issues they had the whole game.

  • aymesq

    This loss can be pinned squarley on the coordinators on both sides of the ball, but primarily on McCall. The play calling was just awful, and showed no ability to think more than one play ahead. The tone of the game was set on NU’s very first possession, when it was (I believe) third and 6 at the Army 36. I turned to the friend I was with and said: “This is two down territory, run the ball and run it again if necessary.” Instead, NU goes for a home run and then punts, and of course the punt goes into the end zone for a touchback and we gain a total of 16 net yards of field position. And then Army runs the ball down our throats for 80 yeards and a TD, because no one can figure out that we need to virtually forget about the threat of Army ever throwing the ball. Time and time again, McCall ran when he should have passed (more short, safe passes on first and second downs), or Colter breaking free and scrambling for long gains, or passed when he should have run (see above, and of course, the ABSURD LAST PLAY OF THE GAME FOR OUR OFFENSE ON 4TH AND 1.) This was just a horrible effort by the coaching staff, in a game that NU should have won fairly easily (and yes, I do realize that defending the triple option is no easy task, but does NU not have far superior talent on its squad?)

    By the way, what the hell were the Cats cheerleaders doing yesterday? Did they not realize that all of the NU purple was seated in the south end zone? Why did they spend the entire game along the east sideline instead of in front of the NU supporters? Plus, I really missed not having the band not there in front of a sold out crowd with so many NU fans having made the trip.

  • aymesq

    Uh, two more things:

    What was going on with the officiating? Does anyone know why what seemed to be an obvious facemask penalty where the ref did throw the flag was waived off late in the fourth quarter? And on the very next play, there was a blatant pass interference penalty that was missed on Ebert at the sideline. I was sitting where I could see right down the line, and the defender clearly made contact with Ebert before the ball got there as he pushed him out of bounds.

    And one poster above reminded me about a play I omitted to mention in my rant: The third down run by Schmidt on the final drive was insane. First of all, it was the wrong back for the call, and it was just another example of poor play calling all afternoon by McCall.

  • DRyan

    The only good choice Fitz and the Cats made at West Point was to salute the cadets during the Alma Mater after the game was over.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    No worries on the long rants. Shows the passion in this fan base.

    The cheerleaders were probably along the East Stands because that was the official Northwestern allotment. That is usually how things go with that. NU band travels to one game a year typically. With Illinois so early this year, I am not sure which game they will travel to.

    On to the game… I agree with pretty much everyone here, the offensive play calling was not good at all. There was definitely some over-thinking in this game and it showed that maybe the coaching staff does not completely trust Colter to run the offense. They went conservative which is often the problem with Northwestern’s offense and did not make adjustments to the gameplan offensively as the game went on.

    In other words, they played right into Army’s hands and started playing Army’s game. That was a sure way to lose.

  • Farmer

    After almost six years of observing Fitz’s coaching, I´ve been consistently thinking the following, but have never expressed it. FWIW:

    Fitz is very loyal person, but to a fault. He becomes too attached to certain players, and fails to timely replace them with more talented ones, when either game situations or performances in previous games mandate.

    Yesterday´s game was a case in point. He waited too long to pull Colter. He should have had Trevor S. in at the start of the second half. That´s an arguable” coulda” cost us the game indiscretion.

    Another arguable “coulda” cost us the game, was his favoritism for Schmidt. On our final drive, he lets Schmidt carry on that critical 3rd down. And, what does Schmidt do? He runs like he was unconcerned about a first down, just trying to run out the clock, and not fumble. Ugh!

    Also, for five years or so now, I´ve been thinking that Fitz´s judgment of talent is suspect.
    This is why at times he´s slow to recognize and put on the field his best players.

    And this lacking could be negatively affecting his recruiting, a reason why we´re not getting enough of the type of players we lack, like a solid, bulldozer type RB, and enough right guys in the trenches, especially on defense. He could be recruiting too many kids with suspect talent.

    You´d think after almost six years on the job, Fitz, himself, would see these shortcomings in his coaching. And if simply because of his nature, he cannot remedy them, he should get himself an assistant-head coach to take on the task of doing, hard-nosed, difficult necessary things, like benching certain underperforming players.

    Hopefully, Fitz will see the light, and correct these mentioned deficits as well as his too-conservative game-tactics. If he does not, middle-path mediocrity and some bowl games will be about the best we can hope for.

    Final thought: If we had to pick a team to lose to, because of what they stand for Army was a great choice.

  • Elder Cat

    The O wasn’t in sync but it is pretty hard to develop a rhythm when field appearances for the O were far and few between. The D couldn’t get off the field, failing repeatedly on third and long. Particularly painful to watch when you knew Army was going to run but it is hard to stop the run when you have nine defenders six yards or more behind the LOS and you make no adjustments all afternoon. We should all be far more worried about Hankwitz and his D than Coulter and the O. We haven’t had a decent defense since Hank’s first year when we were more in an attack mode.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    Let me throw this point out on the defense… injuries are not an excuse, but we were incredibly thin on the defensive front yesterday. Will Hampton, Brian Arnfelt and (most importantly) Jack DiNardo were out yesterday. Bryce McNaul had a variety of injuries he suffered during the game. And by the end, because of the time of possession and how long they were on the field, you could see how gassed they were. That team was tired and could not really give any more.

    To face a team like Army you need some depth to keep guys fresh and sharp. Northwestern really did not have that yesterday. Not an excuse, at all. The coaching staff should have planned better for that by slowing the game down a bit more on offense. But it is something to think about.

  • chartmoose

    Here is another vote for calling out bad coaching.
    Everyone seems to agree that we lost to an opponent that was outmatched in talent and size. I believe that is the definition of being outcoached…

    3 more specific reasons:
    1) We played their game — we were reacting to them on both defense and offense, not the other way around. Yes, they had very challenging schemes on both sides of the ball. But the coach’s job is to make THEM react to YOU.
    I couldn’t agree more with this quote from the Army coach — they kept us on our heels: “We did a nice job of counterpunching and just having enough of a wrinkle to keep them on their heels until we caught them with something.”

    2) Our defense was gashed, even though Army did exactly what we expected them to do.
    Our coaches have repeatedly said that the defense has a “chip on their shoulder” because of the last 3 games of last season, and that the team was extremely motivated throughout the off-season. So if we all agree that we have a more talented group that was also extremely motivated, then we can only blame the coaching for the poor performance.
    Saying that it is the offense’s fault because the defense doesn’t have enough time to rest is unacceptable. We have heard players and coaches talk brag about our fantastic conditioning and depth. Are we saying that we were ready for Army to have the ball for 30 minutes, but 40 minutes (10 extra minutes) is just too much to handle? Let’s set a goal of having our defense have the stamina to be able to play well, whenever the other team’s offense is on the field. Blaming our defensive woes on our offense is unseemly (although it was done by Fitz himself in a press conference last year).

    3) Ineffective play calling and coaching adjustments

    Quotes from the Army coach:
    “We weren’t trying to defend everything on every snap. We were anticipating, and sometimes they got us, but we got them one more.”
    “We don’t have anyone playing center field a lot of that game. I thought it was a masterful job by our coaches of managing that game as we went along. We gave them just enough to keep them off balance. They got us once, but we were on the edge.”

    Based on these quotes, playcalling played a huge part in the outcome of the game.
    I think his evaluation is accurate — they took risks & lived on the edge & anticipated well, and got burned only occasionally. Of course, if they can anticipate & take risks that pay off, our playcalling must be predictable. Here’s a test — raise your hand if you are surprised when Trumpy gets 2 carries in a row. News flash — if we can spot the pattern, so can the opposing coaches…
    For our part, we certainly did not “live on the edge” and rarely kept Army off balance.

    It’s hard to see how our coaching could land anywhere but in the “Bad” or “Disappointing” section — not sure why LTP or PRR didn’t put it there…

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    There were definitely some questionable coaching decisions, and I should have included it in there. But I think coaching was underlying a lot of the problems I highlighted in the post. If not, it has certainly come out in the comments. I think a lot of the problem was just overthinking the scheme. Northwestern was too worried about what Army was going to do and not worried enough about what Northwestern was going to do and making Army react. In that sense, you are absolutely right.

  • vaudvillain

    @db — For the record, I did *not* say we should have run a play with five seconds left in the first half. That would have been dumb for exactly the reasons you state. Kicking the field goal was the right call. What I said was that if we had 5 *more* seconds, we could have run another play…and the way we were driving at the time, I think we would have gotten it (it was one of the few times in the game when our offense was in sync). With anything less than 10 seconds on the clock, just kick the ball and take the points. That kick should have been a gimme. I wasn’t too worried going into the half because it looked like the offense had finally woken up, and I had faith we would continue the same after the break. Little did I know that the offense would go back to sleep until Siemian’s 3-play TD drive.

  • vaudvillain

    @aymesq: The replay on the facemask call showed that the defender’s hand was on the top of the helmet, not on the facemask. At full speed, it looked like an obvious facemask because of the way the helmet moved, but the slow-motion replay showed that it was actually a good non-call. There were other officiating issues, but that one, they got right.

  • JimB98

    It just floors me that sooo many people are up in arms about the defense. They didn’t play well. I think they should play better. But the fact is that up until that last drive they had given up 14 points, when they were on the field all day. If we had put up points in the first half and coasted to a win, no one would be lamenting the defense today.

    Our offense simply has to be effective stretching the field for us to be a good team. Look back at the times in the past 5 years when we were predicated on running the ball either because our QB couldn’t/wouldn’t throw down field (Colter), or wasn’t allowed to (Kafka and Persa’s first games). The common ingredient in all those games is that we were not good. We won a few against bad teams, but they were always tight. We got pummeled by good teams and lost a few we shouldn’t. The defense looked bad in all those games. Why? Because they were on the field a lot.

    I know some will say I’m reactionary but based on the little I’ve seen, I hope Siemian moves up to #2 on the depth chart for Illinois (note to CBS announcers: he did play and even threw a TD in the Eastern Illinois game). Colter is a tremendous athlete with a lot of heart, but the potential of a 300 yard passer is far more valuable in our offense than a 100 yard rusher at QB. And from what I’ve seen Siemian is not a statue either – he can move a bit for a big man (more so than Watkins for sure).

    I’m not sure Colter will ever be able to adequately command our offense so I’m hoping we find some other ways to keep him on the field. It was obvious to anyone watching with any kind of critical eye that his high percentage completion rate in his first few games were a product of mostly easy and short passes – and even those were often a little off target, providing the defense with extra time to close. With him on the field you really only need to defend the first 10 yards. Anyone beyond that he can’t hit with any consistency, or (more likely) he will already have given up on them by that point and tucked it to run. We can’t win against good teams like that.

    IF Persa is back and anywhere near the Dan Persa that we last saw in action against Iowa, this team is going to be OK. We’ll be able to win some shootouts with him at the controls.

    Go Cats!

  • vaudvillain

    @JimB – You’re absolutely right — BC’s third loss of the season (to Duke!) makes our win-loss record look like more and more of a mirage. Believe me — every rant that has been typed here, I have had myself. However, I’m going to force myself to remain positive. There are some glaring weaknesses all over the conference. OSU and MSU both lost on the road to winless teams, just like we did. Iowa and Penn State have both already lost once, and barely escaped a second loss this weekend. Nebraska hasn’t looked nearly as good as they are supposed to be. Michigan still has major problems on defense. Wisconsin and Illinois are the only teams that have not yet disappointed in the early stretch of the season. Our problems can be corrected, and we can still have a successful season. In the long run, I think this bye week is probably well-timed…though it does mean that we’re going to have to live with this loss for two weeks before we play again. (And I don’t think I’m the only one who is nervous about Illinois…)

  • Gary68

    Kain over threw a wide open Ebert for what would have been a touchdown. Passing accuracy seemed a problem all game for him. And why isn’t Dunsmore much, much more involved in the game? Is it play calling, double coverage, or Kain just not going to him? Hard to tell from a TV in California. It was interesting that Trevor found him on his second snap!
    Hopefully Persa is healthy and 100% for the rest of the year. But his injury is really tough to come back from, and I hope they are giving Trevor more reps, and a hard serious look. We won’t have much of a defense by week 7 if they are playing 40 minutes a game with all of those 3 and outs.
    That missed chip shot for a field goal at the end of the first half was really disappointing. I had hoped we were passed all of that.

  • vaudvillain

    @JimB98 – The CBS announcers were driving me nuts with that, too. The first time they said it was Siemian’s first game, okay — but then somebody should have slipped them a piece of paper with the correction. And after a while, I got tired of hearing about “Bruce” McNaul and “Rashard/Rasheed” Lawrence.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    I agree with the 14 points given up. All things considered the defense played pretty well and handled the option decently. There were times they were blown off the line and at the end they were just too tired to get a stop. But we knew the defense had some problems on third downs.

    The real problem was getting the offense moving. It seemed they had so few chances to score and needed to take advantage of every possession (at least give the defense some field position to work with). The three and outs in the second half were more troublesome than anything because then Army just dominated the ball. We needed to be playing from ahead, especially after the defense adjusted to the triple option a bit. The Cats failed on that part of the gameplan.

  • CM

    @vaudvillain
    Thanks for pointing out the CBS guys. Gary Thorne was BRUTAL. “Rasheed Lawrence”, “Bruce McNaul”, “Northwest Wildcats”, “Northwest Territory”. I contemplated watching the game on mute…

  • vaudvillain

    CM – I can’t believe I forgot about all the “Northwest” business! I must have blocked it out of my mind…

  • Mark

    I still think the front 7 on defense will determine the outcome of the season. While scheme is obviously important the Cats need some rolling balls of razor blades in the front 7 to make plays. You only need to look back to 2008 w/ Wootton, Gill, Prince, Malcolm, etc. to know there must be playmakers in the front 7. Woottom freed up other players to make plays. Also, while some people were out on the D line in this game you have to believe that there should be enough depth to play a team like Army. How many 3 star recruits do they have compared to the Cats if you compared their O line vs. Cats D linemen.
    Also, this was worse than Purdue/MSU last year. Army has nowhere near the talent those two schools can attract, especially MSU. The Cats have to get the ball to Ebert and Dunsmore and rely on Trumpy and Smith in the running game.
    I am thinking about going on the wagon re the Purple Koolaid, but am negotiable.

  • db

    @vaudvillain – this is the post i was referring to from above: “-With 5 seconds left in the half we should have thrown a quick slant into the endzone. It would have run a maximum of 2 to 3 seconds off the clock….TD or incomplete.”

  • PittsburghWildcat

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention the cheerleaders failure to acknowledge the purple end zone until some time in the 4th quarter.

    For those not there, (a) they were cheering to a section of the sideline stands in which there was very little purple and (b) I know at least a decent chunk of the official NU/visiting team seats are end zone because I’m a season tix holder and got mine via the NU ticket office; plus a few seats over were several of the NU player parents/family seats.

  • surfmen93

    This was a complete failure in all four phases of the game: Offense, Defense, Special teams and coaching. I would like to see Persa as QB followed by Sieman (as backup only assuming Persa is good to go) and have Colter on the field a lot with new looks. I’d also like to see Hank make in-game adjustments. I can’t believe he is the same coach that turned the D around between 07 and 08.

  • CEBPD

    Alright let me break it down for everyone, and I agree with a lot of the points that other people have said..

    #1 – Coordinators. McCall is a great QB coach. He CANNOT call an offense. with players as good as Ebert, Dunsmore, Lawrence, etc etc, they need to have a ton of yards, not schmidt and Trumpy getting a lot of touches. The fact of the matter is that we need a Coordinator that will be aggressive to Fitz’s conservative approach. We need a YOUNG D Coordinator that gets guys fired up, not Hankwitz who is a very cerebral, intelligent coach. I think Hankwitz is a good guy, but our team needs someone who they will run through a wall for.

    As for the poster who talked about Fitz’s Loyalty, this is another case in point. he is loyal to them even when it is clear that they are not doing well as coaches. When is the last time Fitz has fired a coach?

    #2 – Northwestern will NEVER get a “Bulldozer” type back like Tyrell Sutton again until they change the players they recruit.

    Players that are “horses” are(yes i am stereotyping) dumb, unintelligent, @$$Holes who have no interest in coming to Northwestern, our coaches don’t recruit people like that, and they wouldn’t qualify anyways.

    Same for the defense, sadly. Those big guys that are nasty on the D Line are not the type of kids NU recruits. NU will not have a good defense until they start recruiting different types of athletes. unfortunately this won’t happen anytime soon.

  • CEBPD

    # 3 – Why don’t we just be like TTech teams that passed a ton? Clearly the RB’s are a weakness, and we are good at passing. Stop trying to be a TEAM WE ARE NOT. WE ARE NOT A RUNNING TEAM WE ARE NOT A RUNNING TEAM WE ARE NOT A RUNNING TEAM.

    compare:
    5-11 223
    6-0 289
    5-7 167
    5-10 215
    5-9 212
    To:
    5-10 215
    6-0 195
    6-0 220
    6-0 180
    5-10 205
    5-11 200
    6-1 210

  • CEBPD

    Here is the solution to NU’s problem, and its plain and simple, and it’s probably not going to happen.

    NU needs to go to an SEC OR AN NFL team. They need to hire a reputable DC, and it needs to be a big name. And he needs to be able to bring in his OWN DEFENSIVE COACHES. Yes, Brown, bates, Long are not getting the job done. AND NU NEEDS TO PAY BIG $$$$$$$ TO GET HIM. I’m talking about what Michigan did. but the D scheme needs to be re adjusted, because players simply are not playing their hearts out like they do at other schools.

    FITZ is a great HEAD FOOTBALL COACH. But the Coordinators a) do not make the right adjustments/coaching B) don’t aid in the recruiting process well and c) don’t let the players have fun. Think abotu pete Carroll. Hes a FUN guy to play for. FUN. Kids want to play for a guy like that. Sure Fitz is a great role model, but a majority of CFB don’t care about a degree or being leader in the community. They wanna interact with females and consume liquids and have a good time(to put it in nice terms.) We need a young, fun coach who is gonna get players to have fun.

    We are stuck with Fitz for a long time, which is a good thing, but we are not stuck with the coordinators, and we need to go and get a big name who brings some attitude to the team.

    So: New Coordinators, recruit “different kinds of players.
    Problem: Fitz likely won’t do this because of principles.

    unfortunately, NU will not be a B1G title contender until this happens, and it likely won’t. 1995 was Great. 2000 was the Rose Bowl/1996 recruiting class, and everything else has been middle of the pack.

  • Big Al

    Three things I would like to touch on…

    1) Just like PRR, I was nervous heading into this game. But here’s the thing: We’re a Big Ten team. They’re Army. We shouldn’t be nervous at all, and that’s what really gets me. We know the possibility of laying an egg against an inferior opponent is always in play, and that has to change.

    2) Time for a hypothetical. Let’s say the Cats scored at TD on that final drive. Fitz says, “Eff it, we can’t stop them, let’s go for two and get out of here.” We convert the 2-point conversion and win 22-21. Would that have covered up all the deficiencies from this game? Part of me thinks so, because, in the end, we still won. Look, I hate the fact we lost to Army, a team we have no business losing to. But I think the loss might actual help in some ways, whereas a win could have encouraged sticking with the status quo.

    3) Completely agree on the Schmidt play. No problem with running in that situation since it’s four-down territory, but a huge problem with the play. Sometimes I feel McCall picks plays out of a hat.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    What you are proposing CEBPD is a pretty substantial philosophy change for the entire program.

    I am not saying that McCall and Hankwitz (and even Fitz) need to improve. Yesterday showed that the players still need great coaching to succeed. And the gameplan and the inability to adjust failed them Saturday. Like Colter, they had a really bad day. Does not mean we should all jump ship.

    But I think most of us agree, Northwestern should strive to have both a strong athletic program and a strong STUDENT-athlete program. Those are the kind of guys Pat Fitzgerald is going after. And while that will not have us competing for national championships every year, I think Jim Phillips can sleep pretty easily at night. When push comes to shove though, the academics are always going to win at Northwestern. Whether that is a good thing is a matter of personal taste, I think it is exemplary that NU can compete while still having a high graduation rate and recruiting the players they do.

  • DT

    Let’s stop the Colter bashing as it may exist this week… The kid stunk and yet, was man enough to admit it… Maybe a good game or two and an article in SI gave him a bit of ego swell he in no way deserves given how bad BC is and a performance against an FCS team where his superior athletic ability was enough to shine… Let’s keep a few things in perspective from our “recent” history… Basanez stunk for the most part his first two years and was fortunate to have both the time and commitment for what was a three year learning curve. Bacher, certainly was no prize his first two years in retrospect. We got lucky to some extent with Kafka and Persa where the conventional wisdom on both- was that they were runners and not throwers… Both, turned out to be more than capable passers in this spread. Before we bury Colter as a fan base and annoint the kid from Florida who led a drive yesterday as the next great hope- lets remember our past. Further, stop the bullshit about Persa. If the young man could play, he would be playing. If he does start at Illinois, let’s all remember his recovery and rehab and realize the guy is not going to be 100% for that game, and probably not the whole season… More pressure from us as fans and boosters only puts more pressure on the young man given the ill advised Heisman campaign from the spin masters in the Athletic Department and folks at Learfield wanting an ROI on its sizable investment…

    Finally, the ulitmate accountability for this program is with Fitzgerald. Frankly, he copped out early in the year saying this year was “on the Senior Class”… Note to the Head Coach… After five years, and with a 10 year deal at a million plus a year, IT IS ON YOU- Mr. Fitzgerald… The coordinators serve at his leisure and discretion as well… Maybe, what needs to take place is a Zook like ultimatum from Dr. Jim or another with some earnest clout (Pat Ryan?) to invest big money on top notch “O” and “D” specialists to run the mechanics of the program and let Fitz do what he does best, in fronting the program and doing his unique brand of coach speak…

  • Polymersci

    In all things, success results in success. Look at the NU womens Lacrosse team. 6 out of 7 National championships. If you are a top rated high school female lacrosse player, what school is on the top of your list? So how does this relate to the comment thread? If we are going to be in a position to recruit high level student athletes (which should continue to be our focus) for our football program, then what is needed? One is consistency on the field. Two is to have a set of coaches that can utilize our talent effectively. Three is to make the necessary adjustments to make sure this happens. As a former C-level executive, I am continually frustrated by how the coordinators can’t seem
    to effectively use the talent they have. In business, management’s role is to make sure you are using the talent you have in the most effective way. At NU this year we have a LOT of talent. We most likely have the best recieving corps in the B1G. Look at some of the catches by Dunsmore (remember the highlight reel from last year!) and Ebert, along with a host of other WR talent. We need on OC that can effectively call a game to exploit these strengths and not play to our weakness. Enough said here, many are on the same page. Once we get a consistent program of winning, and not “losing the games we should easily win,” then we will be on the recruits radar. It is also not necessary to win the B1G to get there either, just consistently playing a high level of college football and winning some bowl games will go along way to help recruiting.

    Will this change? Under Fitz, I don’t think so. As one commenters accurately pointed out, Fitz is loyal even to underperformers, both players and coaches. I really don’t understand, but he is who he is. I think Fitz is a great ambassador for NU, I think he is really committed to finding those student atheletes that fit his model, but he is still (in my opinion) very inexperienced as a head coach/manager. The head coach has to make some tough calls, and as this season unfolds, let’s see if he can make those calls. Let’s hope he and his coaching staff have a brutal heart-to-heart and get this turned around.

    The Cat’s have a mountain of talent, so in the coming weeks, everyone, player and coaches need to sort this out. The bye week will also help since we are nicked up at a bunch of positions. BTW, I watched the Illini play ASU and the Cats will have their hands full in two weeks! Go Cats!

  • DT

    @Polymerci-
    Not quite sure you are seeing the same team I am… “Mountain Of Talent”… ? No speed per se at running back sans Adonis Smith, limited pursuit and tackling skills at LB, a second string QB forced into a starting role with limited arm strength. Questions of accuracy and distance in kicking game. I could go on, but you get the picture…

    Enought “talent” to win 6-7 games? Sure, with some breaks and much better coaching.

  • vaudvillain

    @db – thanks for the clarification. I missed the post you were referring to.

  • Mark

    @ DT
    Trumpy has speed: in high school 10.59 (100 meters) and 14.13 (110 hurdles). I thought he made a lot of progress last year in setting up his blocking and being patient. He outran the Illinois secondary at Wrigley. I think the concussion set him back. Agree that Cats need Smith.

    Regarding someone’s earlier comment about Sutton. Sutton made yardage on quickness and cuts that avoided tacklers being able to square up on him. He usually made 2-3 yards after first hit. He did not overpower tacklers – if he’d had that capability he probably wouldn’t have ended up with the Cats.

  • DT

    @Mark-
    I too have seen Trumpy’s track times in high school.. Unfortunately, for the good things he is capable of- that speed does not translate to either turning a corner or hitting a hole. Further, I’d like to see his 40 yard time… I’d guestimate a legit 4.5 in a combine environment. In terms of Sutton, he was “quick” as you point out. That said, got caught from behind numerous times after hitting a hole or breaking a tackle. Caught up to him at the next level so to speak.

    Bigger picture, there are numerous quick backs (4.3-4.4) speed in FBS and FCS. I think we can agree, a bit frustrating that NU can’t seem to recruit one..

  • Polymersci

    @DT
    My comment was in light of my premise that the Cats have talent this year in some key skill players. Agreed, the one thing missing in all of Fitz’s teams (compared to recent past teams) is the stud running back. This makes us a bit one-dimensional, but, we have what we have, so my comment was around figuring out how to exploit the talent we have. (Hit the short routes, mis-direction and pass to the RB coming out of the backfield like the TD late in the EIU game, etc.) Like many, I really hate the second half , run, run, third and long, pass, punt…

    I can’t agree more that the accountability is on Fitz. I also didn’t like when Fitz said the season was on the seniors. The season is on the players and coaches.

    I like your idea of letting Fitz do what he does best, be a great spokesperson for NU (I have seen him in person several times and he is a great asset to NU), and I am sure he is an impressive guy sitting in a recruit’s living room with the parents, but he has not yet developed the management skills and gameday acumen I would expect in a head coach given the compensation and contract he just got. BTW, I think we will win 6 or 7 games (with the right adjustments) this year, so we aren’t too far apart.

  • DT

    @Polymersci-
    Appreciate the clarification…
    Go Cats!

  • I put the failures of this game on the coaching. Is there a defensive coordinator in a major conference who would have put his defense in a 3 man front for 2 plays in a row at his goal line where we were totally vulnerable to the quarterback sneak ( by Army’s best player )?
    Niko Mafuli had no chance on the touchdown sneak. He was triple teamed by the center and both guards. We were out schemed as we were throughout the game. As was posted, the players were put in a position to fail not succeed.

    We did not attempt to cut off the head of the snake by attacking the line of scrimmage and triple option but laid back reacting to it.

    The offensive line, particularly, both tackles, one who is supposed to be a high round NFL draft pick and the other who is is one of our few 4 star recruits, played terribly. We have granted a ton of scholarships to offensive lineman the past many years. How many in recent years have grown and developed at NU. I put most of the blame on our O line coach,
    Adam Cushman, whose college experience was at that powerhouse, the U of Chicago. What does he know about coaching the O line?

    Fitz is the motivator, face of the program, and seal the deal recruiter. He is not a great manage the game and make adjustments, game day coach. He needs a bench coach, like baseball managers have, to give him objective feedback and options during the game. He also needs some new assistants such as a true O line coach, and a primo defensive coordinator. I can now understand why Wisconsin let Coach Hank go, I am sorry to say despite his very encouraging first season at NU.

    Look at the U of I. Ron Zook was in deep trouble until the AD forced him to bring in new offensive and defensive coordinators and that has turned their program around.

  • surfmen93

    @Countryboy – received. Very well thought out and an experienced O line coach and another voice during game day could help. As long as they avoid too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe Fitz trusts his coordinators too much. He said his first season he micro-managed too much. Maybe he’s too hands off now?

  • AfftonCat

    Since we all need a good laugh right now, as of 9/18 7:30 pm CDT, Jeravin Matthews is STILL misidentified as Ben Johnson in photo #30 in the NUSports.com photo gallery of yesterday’s game. To quote Forrest Gump, they \are not relations.\ Great game by Jeravin yesterday, and Go ‘Cats!

  • db

    @ Big Al – the schmidt run wasnt any old 3rd down run in 4 down territory. It was against a running clock at 1 minute left, with a redshirt qb that had never been in a situation like that. You CANNOT put him in a position where he is hurrying people to the line for a 4th down call. However – 1st quarter – 3rd and 5 from the 35 – absolutely, as opposed to a bomb and a punt that put the team beind the chains the whole game.

    Colter was a stud for stepping up and taking responsibility for what ultimately was a poorly called game. His coach didnt use his talent. He played poorly but the coaches didnt give them a chance.

    Vanderlinden should be the DC.

  • TypeO

    We got dominated on both lines and their QB/RB’s constantly ran through or over our bigger and supposedly more talented LB’s. That folks is called desire. They had it, we did not. Add to that our defensive scheme stunk. When are we going to pressure the QB (which is key in defending the option), stck the line or mix things up. I see us playing to much read -and-react and it stinks.

  • Alaskawildcat

    I know most of the posters here were in bed by the time the BYU-UTAH game aired, but watching everything go wrong for BYU after keeping the game close in the first half certainly put a different perspective on our game. Obviously there is no such thing as a good loss but by comparison this was not a really bad loss and while the offense under performed, it did not fall apart and I have a hard time being too hard on a defense that was on the field for forty minutes of the game and still kept the game winnable up to the last play.

  • CTCatFan

    Agree with everything. Unbelievable that the NU defense lined up in the same formation for every one of Army’s 75 rushing plays. What were Hankwitz and Fitz thinking? Army did not attempt a pass in the second half. Offset the line so they can’t triple team our NT on the dive. Put 8 or 9 men on the line and plug every gap. Try something to disrupt the option and force them to pass to wide receivers in single coverage. As bad as Colter was, Steelman was 1 of 7 for 6 yards and missed several wide open receivers. And even if we were somehow worried about Army passing if we committed all out against the run, what difference would it have made? The safeties 7 yards behind the line were also inside the hash marks. They could not have helped out on a long pass outside if any had been thrown. So we had the worst of all worlds. Unable to help against the (nonexistent) passing game and only able to stop the run 3 or 4 yards too late. Bend but not break is no good after the opponent shows they can and will conduct 18 yard plays converting as many 3 and 4th downs as they need to get into the end zone. The only difference between a 1 play 80 yard run against an aggressive defense and an 18 play 80 yard drive against a passive defense is that the 18 play drive insures the defense will be exhausted for the next series!