Game Three: Northwestern (2-0) @ Army (0-2)

2011 Game Three:
Northwestern (2-0) at Army (0-2)
September 17, 2011
Kickoff: 3:30 pm et/2:30 pm ct
Location: Michie Stadium (38,000) – West Point, NY
All-time Series: NU 3-1, last meeting 1988
Trends: ‘Cats seeking 8th straight non-conference win and 15th in last 16th game
Favored Team: Northwestern (-5.5)
TV: CBS SN Gary Thorne (play-by-play), Randy Cross (analyst)
Radio: ESPN 1000 (Chicago)WGN – PXP – Dave Eanet, Color – Ted Albrecht; Sirius Radio Channel 92, XM Radio 91; WNUR 89.3 FM (student station)
Twitter: @NU_SportsLIVE
Coaching Stats: NU – Pat Fitzgerald (6th year – 36-29, 18-22) vs Rich Ellerson (3rd season 11-14 )

2-Minute Drill
The ‘Cats venture to an NU-friendly soldout crowd at Michie Stadium in what will likely be Kain Colter’s last solo performance. The drama surrounding Persa playing vs not playing is being overshadowed by the NU fan support and time of possession battle. Army is 0-2 but no NU fan is biting on that deceiving stat as the Black Knights have self-inflicted the losses due to turnovers while dominating the stat sheet. Army’s offense is nicked, but then again so is NU’s entire team as the MASH report is a tad to scary for our program. NU MUST score early to get ahead as this is a team that simply can’t come back quickly from a deficit. However, should Army get an early lead and they can suck the life out of you with the triple option complexities. 

When Army Has The Ball
The offense begins and ends with QB Trent Steelman who is nursing a pectoral injury. He has started 27 straight and that streak should continue as he is Kain Colter like in his total percentage of the Army offense.  The NU secondary needs to step up and be ready to support option support in their respective gap assignments.  Army won’t throw more than 8-10 times all game, so first down stops will be key to dictating drives. I’ve got my money on Brian Peters to be the hero of today’s game. 

When NU Has The Ball:
Start number three for Kain Colter is upon us. However, the rushing success by NIU and SDSU will likely contribute to more straightforward rushing plays by Mick McCall as Mike Trumpy returns to the lineup and Adonis Smith sits. Keep an eye on FR Treyvon Green’s progress this week.  After a 67 rushing attempt game vs EIU, I do expect Colter to pass a bit more this week and engage Dunsmore and Ebert.  Persa-nally (sorry), I’d love to see Dan take a few snaps and get the rust off before Illinois. I have a hunch the conservative approach by the medical staff won’t let it happen.

Venric Mark could have a field day after a stellar workout last week vs EIU.  I expect Jeff Budzien to have a solid day. Army has been beyond turnover prone and NU has been below average in the takeaway category.  I’d love to think NU will continue to benefit from Steelman’s fumbleitis, but I expect the Cadets will shore up the turnover challenges. NU simply cannot lose the turnover battle. I’ve got a bad feeling about this one, because I feel so good about it. The ‘Cats don’t lose when I venture to see them and I’m not about to lose that streak today.

I mentioned last night that I’m stoked about meeting new friends and indoctrinating myself in 700 stories of how we all came together.   Last night, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a great group of friends and we talked about the ‘Cats, life, family and a host of other topics (Joanna – I warned you to be careful on the topics or you’d end up in the post!).  I’m beyond psyched for the stories that will unfold today. With this karma, we can’t go wrong, can we?

Lake The Posts Factor (0=expected and not even leave seats to 10=marching them with Band Day members in to Hudson): 7
The proximity of the Hudson River to the stadium makes ripping the posts down and celebrating with the Sailgate crew way too easy of an incentive. Let’s do this!

Survey Says…

Here are the results of the LTP Poll of the week which was as simple as it gets.


Speculation Central – Will Dan Persa Take Snaps In The Army Game?

  • Yes (64%, 227 Votes)
  • No (36%, 128 Votes)
  • Total Voters: 355

    Pick To Click: Brian Peters

    Admittedly, I was biased by a heartfelt story about Brian and the impact he had on our dinner friends’ son who had temporary paralysis. Peters became a regular visiting him at the hospital and made birthday party house calls.  Just another great example of why it’s easy to root for NU. I believe he will be key to contain tomorrow. I also think he can pop the ball loose at least once.

    LTP: I’m feeling good. It is a rare feeling of a narcissistic diehard fan. However, this is a bizarro season and I believe we build momentum for the season, the bye week and Persa’s return with a Colter special.

    NU 31  Army 21

    Listen to Dave Eanet!

    LTP will be making an appearance on ESPN1000/ at halftime to discuss Sailgate. Be sure to listen!

    ‘Cats Caveat Central

    Thanks for your patience today. The postgame wrap will be pretty late as we’ll be hopefully celebrating on the boat. That means commentary is in your hands! PRR will take the reigns and we’ll be back soon to give you play by play.

    • LondonAlum

      I hope all NU fans have a great time with Sailgate (and cheer the Cats to victory!). I wish I could be there, but I will be watching the internet stream closely this evening to see what the CBS Sports announcers say about this great event.

    • Paul K

      Having breakfast on a beautiful (if early) fall morning and ready to sailgate!!

    • Frank

      Good luck to the Cats and thanks to all the NU faithful for being at the game. Kudos to LTP for drumming up attendance at West Point. I think our size will wear down the Cadets and we win big. (I hope)

    • KP


      Is there a way to get the stream as a PPV for one event? CBS SN seems only to offer me monthly/yearly subscriptions in order to get the event…

    • AfftonCat

      I hope all the Sailgaters have a great time today, and I look forward to hearing the NU fan support during the broadcast! Go ‘Cats!

    • CatInTheHat

      Disappointed that there hasn’t been any mention of the sailgate thus far on the broadcast. Game is too close for comfort.

    • sz

      i feel like, other than the first two drives, we’ve played decent. wish the scoreboard reflected that.

    • CM

      Why are there 3 down linemen in a goal line formation?

    • Wildcat in Detroit

      Defense seems completely unprepared.

    • DT

      “O” line getting their butts whipped by Army. Colter, throwing like a rag arm…

    • JH

      Why are there three down linemen in any of these formations. There are way too many gaps to attack. Unprepared is a good description.

    • hudhaifa3

      Everything about this game is pathetic. Is the play call on back to back plays really to allow Colter to float passes to the sidelines. He doesn’t have the arm-strength to do that. Roll him out, this is unreal. PATHETIC all around.

    • Cats83

      The whole team looks unprepared…I’d say put in Persa, but with all the mistakes by the rest of the team, it probably won’t make a difference.

    • MF

      The personal foul was a make-up call because they could have (should have) called a personal foul after Matthews (I think) got in the punt returners face after his good tackle. They missed the unsportsmanlike call, hence the PF.

    • hudhaifa3

      Play of the game for Northwestern thus far. That punt by Williams…

    • Joe

      Colter has looked terrible passing. It needs to be Persa time, stat.

    • CatInTheHat

      I would definitely call this an “emergency situation.” Bring in #7, damnit! This is embarrassing!

    • hudhaifa3

      Smart school like Northwestern coming up with Bullshit Heisman campaign. You Telling me they didn’t realize he was going to miss a month of the season. Put him in WTF!!!

    • JP

      Well, this should put to rest any sort of QB controversey for the time being… I shudder to think of what this score would be against, say, ANY B1G team with the Cats playing so fecklessly.

    • KP

      If this doesn’t constitute an emergency, I don’t know what they’re waiting for…

    • hudhaifa3


    • Joe

      Trevor Siemian, you beautiful beast of a man.

    • CatInTheHat

      Cardiac Cats strike again! Now let’s see if we can keep them from running off six minutes of clock. I have a bad feeling…

    • JP

      Heh. Maybe the controversy will be Siemian vs. Persa instead! ;-)

    • AntiqueCat

      Well, yay Siemian-Ebert, but is Colter hurt? These CBS announcers wouldn’t notice

    • CatInTheHat

      In fairness, that was all Ebert. Anyway, it’s looking like a moot point.

    • JH

      If NU’s front seven were defending our country we would all be speaking German.

    • Joe

      I mean, it’s not as if Army is a threat to pass. Why are you even dropping the secondary back? What a pathetic drive

    • AfftonCat

      Lowest NU point total since 34-13 loss to PSU on 10/31/09

    • Joe

      Wow, that last drive. Um, yeah. We didn’t deserve to win this game. This program is never going to be able to take the next step if we can’t beat ARMY for godsakes

    • DJ

      This is a coaching loss. Coach Hank totally outmatched by a high school offense. 3rd rate bowl loss here we come.

    • hudhaifa3

      Amazing how all Army RB’s and QB’s fall forward….Trumpy looked weak on that 3rd down carry……………..Ball Game….Another pathetic non-con loss. Shitty play-calling all day……Great job coaching staff this is all on you… YOU FAILED THE PLAYERS TODAY

    • CatInTheHat

      So much for the triumphant sailgate return to Manhattan. What an egg they laid today. And DUKE beat BC, which means that we are plain bad. What an embarrassment. And what happened to Colter? and WHY was Persa not brought in? I would say that losing late to Army is an emergency situation! This disgusts me.

    • JP

      I find Dave Eanet’s excuse-making rather tilting… He keeps insisting the Army is SO hard to prepare for because of their triple-option offense. Yeah, Northern Illinois had SUCH a hard time with it.

    • Knickelbein5

      Truly pitiful loss. Now we have two weeks to mull over the state of this mediocre program. Unbelievable.

    • Ryan

      Absolutely pathetic game. Played like we didn’t know they ran the option. No flow on offense. A great game to lose some of those nice recruits that were giving us the time of day. Back to the drawing board, Fitz.

    • zeek

      Can’t really put this on the players; they weren’t prepared well for this at all.

      On so many of Army’s plays our team was way out of positioned. We got out-coached, and they out-hustled us.

      Well, we’re 2-1 and our goal is to make a bowl game. That’s still attainable at least.

    • Wildcat in Detroit

      I guess for all the great wins the ‘Cats give us, we have to swallow embarrassing losses like this. Completely out-coached from the start of the game. Fitz put forth a Carmody-like performance. I knew when Duke beat BC that the 2-0 start was probably a mirage. Long trip back to NU with our tail between our legs. Better figure something out soon. Could be scrambling for a bowl bid…

    • hudhaifa3


    • CatInTheHat

      Fitz really let us down here. I’m just in shock–not that we lost, necessarily, but at just how poorly prepared and poorly coached this team was today. Very surprising. Northern Illinois made these guys look like amateur hour, and they, in turn, just made us look like the JV. My expectations for this season just hit the f’ing sewer. 2-6 in the B1G.

    • Al

      Absolutely disgusting. We did nothing right today, and that starts with the coaching staff. It was obvious from the get-go that the 3-man front wasn’t working, and we never tried anything new.

      NIU beat this team 49-26!

    • hudhaifa3

      @zeek make a bowl game is that really the goal? doesn’t everyone make a bowl game…
      @Wildcat in Detriot….great point about the “Carmody-like” comment. Bill takes a bunch of shit on this message board. FITZ deserves this loss

    • zeek


      I agree with you, but I think we knew that we were having troubles. Our propensity for giving up the big play against EIU was worrisome. Even more worrisome was how close that BC game was in hindsight given that they got smoked by UCF and lost to Duke today.

      Our defense needs a lot more talent and a lot more coaching (the latter on a day like this).

      We’re basically the same team we were at the end of last season. That’s really worrisome given that Illinois would run all over us if that game was today.

      Persa being able to be what he was last year is basically our only hope to get to 4 B1G wins.

    • CatInTheHat

      @hudhaifa3: agree completely. This one is squarely on the coaching staff. The D never adjusted, and poor conditioning was evident toward the end. We let Army (Army!) control the tempo, and that is completely due to coaching. I do like Fitz, and I believe he will adjust, but this feels just like the ’07 Duke loss, execept for the fact that “youth and inexperience” is no longer an excuse.

      I’m about to self medicate with copious amounts of booze. Carry on, LTP community…

    • Knickelbein5

      @ Wildcat in Detroit. We will see you in Detroit in late December!!!

    • DT

      Give some credit where it is due… Rich Ellerson utilized his talent (what he has…) well and took Fitz to school… I’m not going to call this game “pathetic” in that I had Army beating NU in pre season… Had BC beating us as well… We now know what BC is via a loss to Duke today and the ass kicking they got via Central Florida…

      The sad fact was that NU was outplayed in the trenches today by smaller athletes with more heart and better preparation. If one area (beyond Colter…) was pathetic, it was The “O” line… Ward and Netter were feckless and played like newbies. Our lack of feature running back hurt again in that none of our kids are quick enough to hit a hole, as infrequent as they were…

      “D” was not bad per se, albeit still too many missed tackles and third down conversions. Proby and Johnson need to improve, quickly or we will have a few repeats games from last year ala Illinos and Wisconsin. I’ve always been a fan of Niko Mafuli and have seen some great potential, but I’m not sure I’ve seen an NU Nose Tackle pushed further back on a goal line situation than he was on the last Army TD… The kid from Army owned him…

      Net/net, out coached, out played, and our first loss on the way to 6-6…

      @JT- Good point on Eanet… Albrecht is right there with him… Sometimes, I wonder what game these guys are watching… Purple Kool Aid via Learfield and WGN…

    • AfftonCat

      Very painful – the annual “bad” loss. ’11 Army, ’10 Purdue, ’09 Syracuse, ’08 Indiana, ’07 Duke, ’06 New Hampshire. Go ‘Cats

    • hudhaifa3

      I just don’t understand. Northwestern has the most talented receivers EVER. Get them the ball in space. Screens, slants, Quick outs…..What is going on with the offensive play call? It’s not on Colter at all. 3 times in one series he is throwing the ball across the field to the sidelines. He doesn’t have the arm for that…………..I am so damn frustrated right now.

    • zeek

      I just don’t get how our defense looked so out place. What exactly were we trying to defend on those 3rd down plays with so many players lined up far away from the line of scrimmage?

      This is one of those games that’s entirely on the coaching staff.

    • tonyv

      to the guy who does the highlights the last two weeks, dont bother this week. i already saw the only highlight, the ebert 62 yard td….dont was your time….

    • zeek

      By the way, I don’t even want to think about that Illinois game coming up; that could be scary even with a bye week.

      If Persa isn’t healthy by then, this team could really struggle to 6 wins.

    • hudhaifa3

      As for the WGN comments. Don’t schedule a team that runs the option then. Forget the excuses…………………I am the JACKASS now. I am in Germay and turned down going to Oktoberfest to watch this, now I will sit here and read comments all night….

    • Big Al

      Rittenberg just nailed it. His whole mini-blog post on the game is spot-on, but his final line is absolutely perfect:

      “And for all the good things this program has done in recent years, these types of losses reinforce the perception that Northwestern can’t get to the next level.”

      Here’s the link:

    • CatInTheHat

      Did I mention I’m disgusted? I want to vomit. Literally.

    • DT

      Like usual, I agree with much of your sentiment.. That said, I think NU will get that 6 wins and eek into The Pizza Bowl… That said, no lock on that and not much upside…

    • Northwestern lacked intensity and Army brought the fire. It is a bad sign when the coach (Fitz) is more fired up and showing more emotion than the rest of the team. If NU continues to play flat this season will be ugly.

      Adjustments were not made and that is on the coaches. The remaining foes on our schedule will study this game’s film and know exactly where to punch the football. In a way I’m surprised that Army got only 21 and NU lost by only 7.

      I’m going to have to really think hard to find anything good about this game. Some people played hard and played well, but the team had a group fail. Everyone (including the coaches) must get better. I am watching the Illinois-ASU game and if NU doesn’t get its act together, it will be a slaughter.

      Go Cats! (Anyway)

    • CM

      I dont’ know why everyone is so locked onto projections at this point. Now is the time to delve into THIS game…(complain, critique, criticize, LEARN). Then, when you’re done there, look ahead to the next game. What steps need to be taken in order to be ready come Oct. 1? (Yeah I know, a lot of steps need to be taken). But regardless, that’s the important thing.
      I skip all comments that talk about projections. They mean nothing. I could say 10-2. My neighbor could say 3-9. Who cares? This team could finish 2-10. Guess what…they could finish 11-1. You should talk about WHAT IS and WHAT NEEDS TO BE, not what might be.
      For the record, I’m concerned about the WHAT IS. Because that consists of: ineffective coaching, the inability to adjust mid-game, etc…

    • CM

      Has there EVER been a game where one team has had the same number of down linemen (today: 3) for EVERY defensive play? I think we might have an NCAA record.

    • cece

      gak. the only thing that makes me wish for any old bowl game is the practice time. but the truth is, after today’s thrashing we don’t deserve much. long boat ride back to NYC.

    • JimB

      The defense didn’t play great today and they aren’t that good, or seemingly well coached with the prevalence of 3 man fronts in head scratching situations. They genuinely scare me for B1G season, but this loss was all on the offense, and mostly on the coaching staff. Play calling was bad, Colter was worse. He left at least one TD on the field when Ebert’s man fell and he was running by himself.

      If Siemian is as good as he looked today, why wasn’t he in the game earlier when it was obvious Army was selling out to the run? The pass was there all day if we had someone to throw it, and once you’re up by a score or two late on Army, it’s all over because of that offense. We should have won ugly today at least.

      Have to agree with that Rittenberg comment. These kinds of losses are just unacceptable and further proof that our program lacks that killer instinct. Fitz and the powers that be may find it acceptable to always play nice and down to the opposition but I’m tired for watching this crap. This team has too much talent now to squeak out wins against mediocre teams and occasionally lose to bad ones. McCall is a great QB coach but I’m out of patience at this point with his play calling. Most of these “bad loss” games we lose IMO because we don’t score enough points against some terrible defense that everyone else shreds.

      And why make Persa available at all in that game if you aren’t going to play him? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a bottle of Scotch.

    • Cats83

      Well, Navy is up 4 on #10 S. Carolina late in the 3rd. Now THAT would be a big win for the Pentagon trio.

      tOSU getting spanked early by the U….another mediocre week shaping up for the B1G….

    • zeek

      I have to agree that the moral of the story here is that we’re not going to get to the next level if we can’t win games like this.

      This is by far the most talented squad (at least at the skill positions on offense) that we’ve had in a long time. We’re loaded at wide receiver especially. The fact that we couldn’t go through the air against Army at all was ridiculous. Choosing to go exclusively to the run at certain points was just folly; the Army secondary was waiting to get carved up.

      My main problem with this game is the defensive coaching. Everyone in the stadium and watching/listening knew that Navy was going to just run the ball on the final drives. How we couldn’t get a stop at any point in that final drive was maddening.

      We got totally out-coached today. We had the players necessary to win a game like this.

    • zeek

      Getting confused with Army/Navy in that last one (watching Navy/SC right now).

      Regardless, my point is that everyone knew that all we had to do to stop Army was load up on the defensive line and move everyone up; just keep tight coverage on their receivers (like they’d throw to them), and just stuff the line on every play.

      Instead, we spotted Army like 2-3 yards on virtually every option run. It was just maddening.

    • CM

      Couldn’t agree more about spotting them 2-3 yards on every run.
      The triple-option is just not very effective when you force it to move truly sideways (if you flood the o-line). Instead, as they moved sideways, we were also allowing them to be moving upfield (via the 3-man rush).

    • Polymersci

      I am not a big Fitz fan, so this doesn’t surprise me. During his watch, NU has made some great strides forward, but for whatever reason, Fitz teams can’t seem to finish. I can’t figure out why. Bowl games, the games they should win, but lose (today for example and many that have been highlighted in previous comments), Fitz is a defensive Hall of Fame guy, why are his defenses so lame?, Fitz gets all fired up, but where is the killer instinct to finish off opponents? Many comments have made great points about the lack of coaching in this particular game, but I think it goes well back in time. I am not a fan of McCall’s play calling (not this year, not last year). Granted, I think he is a great quarterback coach, but he is really deficient as an OC. Coach Hank just was pathetic today (and for that matter in the last three games last year). First or second and goal and NU has three down linemen with gaps the size of the Hudson between them. Granted, you have to defend the option, but with one yard to go and NU giving them the QB sneak, what gives?

      I have to totally agree with Adam Rittenberg’s summary. Spot on. A lot of work before the Fighting Illini.

    • CatFanSeattle

      Folks, to paraphrase a former NU head coach:

      “The Cats are who we thought they were!”

      Which is to say not a very good team. There is clearly talent at the skill positions, especially on offense, but it has been several years since there has been much talent in the trenches. I don’t know if it is poor recruiting, or poor coaching of the lineman but Fitz’s teams have been consistently whipped up front. Yes, we lack a stud running back but at the same time there aren’t many holes to run through and the QB’s spend a lot of time dodging the rush. A quality B1G line should be able to steamroll Army on both sides of the ball and we didn’t. There was NO defensive line penetration (some at the edges), granted there were only 3 lineman but you would think there would be SOME plays were a lineman gets in the backfield and blows it up. I didn’t see any. It all starts up front and they had better improve in a hurry or it will be a very difficult B1G season.

      Very disappointed…

    • PittsburghWildcat

      I was at the game today and believe me it was as painful in the stands as I suspect it was on TV. Flat offense. Flat defense. Flat coaching. O-line failing to run block. Defense failing at, well, everything. Extremely questionable play calling.

      All of that has been well covered by now.

      But I have to say I’m even more disappointed in our crowd. We had the ENTIRE end zone purple, but it was back to the old sit-on-your-hands theater crowd. No edge or energy in the stands either. Plus, half of our fans arrived in their seats AFTER KICKOFF!! Come on people. At what point can we start making getting into the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff an absolute!

    • zeek

      @ CM

      I was watching the game with my brother on CBS SN (or whatever that channel is called). And he kept saying “why is your team lining up so far back if everyone knows they’re just going to run it.” And I kept saying “I don’t know.”

      That last Army drive was the worst of it. There was a 0% chance that they would throw with the score at 14-14 on any of those plays. Yet there we were lined up to spot them yardage on those crucial 3rd downs. And that ridiculous “goalline stand” that involved all the linebackers 5 yards into the endzone? Who came up with that nonsense.

      A decent defensive coordinator could have shutdown Army’s offense with the players we have.

    • CatFanSeattle

      Regarding lack of “killer instinct.” To me that is 100% on the coaching staff. How often do we see in the 4th quarter run, run, pass, punt on offense and the 3 man rush and ridiculously soft zone coverage on defense? “Killer Instinct” is running play action and throwing downfield, it’s fake punts and blitz the QB. When you coach scared how can you expect your team to not start playing scared?

    • Byebyefitz

      @ Pittsburgh Wildcat

      you said “We had the ENTIRE end zone purple, but it was back to the old sit-on-your-hands theater crowd. No edge or energy in the stands either.”

      That really ticks me off. I didn’t get season tickets this season (first time since I graduated four years ago) because I cannot stand going to our games. Everyone sits and complains if you stand up. I have friends who are Florida Alum and I went to a game with them in the swamp last year…nobody sits. At NU only the student section stands…I miss the student section.

    • reader

      I was there, and agree that while it was a very large purple crowd, it was pretty quiet until the end. I thought it was in part because Army controlled the ball early on for a lengthy drive and then scored, and that sort of sucked the life out of the crowd. The cheerleaders were stuck on the other side cheering to few NU folks (they drifted over to the end zone by the 4th quarter).
      It did take a while for the NU crowd to fill the stands. We were there for the parachuters and kickoff!
      Hats off to LTP for organizing an awesome Sailgate and tailgate! We really enjoyed the tailgate. Sorry the day didn’t end on an up note.
      I hope we see more of Trevor Siemian – the kid has got an arm. He should have been put in much earlier.

    • DT

      Watching Illinois vs. ASU via BTN… A couple thoughts…
      A)- Chris Marting is doing an outstanding job in his game analysis… Network quality job done by our former DB and Big Ten Champ… Well done, Chris!
      B)- If his alma matter brings the weak effort exhibited today at West Point to Cham-Bana in two weeks, will make the Wrigley Field debacle of last year look like a competitive game… Zook has athletes, and coordinators that are on the same page… That looks like a solid football team and Top 25 squad. Something NU is not…

    • DT

      Chris MARTIN… My bad…

    • Bobb Hall Alum

      Somebody please help me understand this…I kind of understand letting them score on the final drive to get the ball back with time on the clock, but if you’re not going to stack the goal line and make a stand, THEN WHY ARE WE BURNING TWO TIME OUTS INSIDE THE FIVE?


      LTP and Scott, thanks for everything. We’re still killing it on the boat ride back despite the loss.

      Bobb hall alum and wildcat86

    • This was as bad a coaching job as I’ve seen. Someone said that we should focus on this game and the lessons to be learned vice predictions of the future. I’ll bite…

      The more I think about the game, the more I think about the characterization of Big Ten football as “…run up the middle for 3 yards and a cloud of dust…” And that was Northwestern today. It worked okay for the first two games (we won, which is the ultimate measure of success). In the 1st half today it was clear that it wasn’t working well today. Lesson 1: If it doesn’t work for a full half, change!

      Clock management was a problem. Army set the strategic rhythm of the game and stuck to it. It seemed like every down that Army had, they would let the play clock run down to under 10 seconds before they would really set the play. It was “…down for a few seconds, everyone get up and look at bench for a few seconds, get to the *real* play in last 7 seconds…repeat play after play. I cannot think of any time that NU’s defense made a radical change with under 10 seconds on the play clock. Imagine what might have happened had the D been told to show one look while Army waited for the “magic” 10sec mark – then shift into something very different when the whole Army offense turned around for the real play? How many Delay of Game or Illegal Procedure calls might we have gotten as we got inside of Army’s decision timeline? Lesson 2: If the other team is doing the same offensive countdown over and over again, screw with their timing.

      Clock management was an offensive issue as well. Army started bleeding the clock in ernest as soon as they scored their first TD. As I was Tweeting the game, I correctly predicted just before Siemian took the field, that series would be the second to last possession for NU – even though there were 6+ minutes left in the game. If NU had made the radical shift in offensive strategy about two series earlier (essentially 15+ minutes game time). The coaches seemingly lost track of the “strategic” clock/pace of the game. Lesson 3: If the other team is going into “bleed the clock mode” and the defense can’t shake the ball loose, get an offensive sense of urgency when you’ve got at least 5+ series left. (In this case the NU offense should have gone into “urgent” mode just after halftime – not with 2 series left.)

      The team played flat. Coach Fitz has threatened to bench people if they were not sufficiently fired up. Lesson 4: Don’t bluff – it makes people question your resolve.

      I don’t want to call out any individual players. But some elements of individual play could have been better. Nonetheless, I think this one was a coaching loss.

      I’m not a coach. I’m not a player. Hindsight is 20/20. I hope that the coaches learn from this game. NU’s opponents sure will.

      Go Cats! (I’m still bleeding purple)

    • Raymond Lembke

      I’m assuming that the defensive formations were based on the fear that we couldn’t react quickly enough to the option if more people were closer to the line of scrimmage. It seems to me that the fear may be justified. The other thing that concerns me is the number of times that NU was in position but failed to make the tackle. This appears to be the same defense that played the second half against Penn St and against Illinois and Wisconsin last year. Is it coaching, personnel, or both? I don’t know. I do know that this will be an ugly season if the defense does not improve.

    • PBRCat

      Listened to the game on radio today and it sounded as if the Wildcats were not finishing tackles. Army kept picking up critical first downs when the ball carrier made a second effort and pushed for extra yards.

      Army really controlled the pace of the game and the Northwestern defense seemed to never get off of the field. The Wildcats final score occurred so rapidly that I doubt any of the defense members had a minute to exhale.

      It seems hard to believe that Northwestern claimed to have been studying Army’s Triple Option Offense for so many months.

    • jason

      its gonna take a lot more than a great performance from my girlfriend to take the sting out of today.

      what a bummer

    • DT

      Give your girlfriend a chance, dude… Maybe a hummer makes it less a bummer…

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