Shoelace Scorches NU; Michigan 28 unanswered in 42-24 Win; Tale of Two Halfs

Ouch. That won’t hurt. The good news is we dialed up the appropriate offensive strategy and let it rip. For 20 minutes you got that oh so 2000 feeling as Northwestern and Michigan marched up and down the field on one another. The ‘Cats picked off the incredible Denard Robioson three times in the first half and had Ryan Field rocking as we entered halftime up 24-14. However, Shoelace emerged a new man in the second half and continued his Heisman march with 455 total yards and 4 TDS in a flat out clinic as Michigan shutout Northwestern in the second half.

Northwestern, as expected, put a defensive gameplan in place to stuff the run and force Robinson to beat NU through the air. Despite huge passing numbers in the first half, the strategy was working as Ibraheim Campbell had a pair of picks and Brian Peters added a third to contribute to a bend but don’t break defense.  Northwestern meanwhile came out firing like we’d hoped and Persa was up-tempo with pass after pass connecting. However, it would be NU’s receivers getting a bit of the dropsies costing Persa a first half TD at the end of the half and Drake Dunsmore bobbling a pass would lead to an INT.  Jeremy Ebert fumbled after a five yard gain as well and those two turnovers turned out to be too much as Denard was simply unstoppable in the second half.

Persa outpassed Denard by a mere 3 yards going 31/42 for 328 yds but had no TDs and 1 INT while Denard had 4 TDs.  The ‘Cats sure were creative utilizing Venric Mark on both sides of the ball and Kain Colter was a threat as a WR.  The first half had that big time game kind of feel, but the second half was all Michigan. The Wolverines put up 529 yards of offense on NU including 350 in the air. The story of the game was our inability to get pressure on the pass and Michigan’s remarkable 13/17 third down conversion percentage. Denard had all day back there in third and long and he torched us with it.

I claimed this was a Super Bowl Saturday and well, we fizzled. I have no problem with the offensive gameplan and I had issue with only one series, after Campbell’s second INT got called back for a penalty and we went in reverse only to call a Jacob Schmidt draw on 3rd and 18. Really?

Michigan’s receivers made the big plays and won every jump ball, just like we feared. There is no way to hide the disappointment on this one, especially after posting a 10-point hafltime lead that evaporated almost instantly in the third quarter. Now, NU must play for pride as the division title is out of reach and we’re 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Ten.  The good news is that every one of our remaining games is winnable, I truly believe that. However 2011 was supposed to be our 2000 and we’re on the brink of it becoming 2001.  We’ll serve up The Great, The Good & The Disappointing tomorrow as I must admit this surgery recovery is more than I expected. Good night everyone.

  • Nate

    Player development, check.
    Game-planning and scheming, check.
    Execution of scheme and in-game adjustments…

    NU will never be a consistent threat if they can’t execute and adapt for 60 over 12.

    • zeek

      Our defense though these past 2 years has been historically bad. Since last year’s Iowa game, we haven’t been able to get stops at all when we’ve needed it…

  • DT

    I would hope you include a complete failure from the marketing department in your “Bad” given in 18 years of season tickets, I’ve never seen so many fans from the opposing team in Ryan. If these spin doctors led by Phillips are going to take credit for things, let em take credit for the 35 K Michigan fans they sold fucking tickets to… Proof positive again, by any objective standard the Wrigley Field adventure did NOTHING for season tickets or Ryan Field attendance and was an ancillary revenue vehicle for Team Ricketts, period…

    Coaching was pathetic as they can’t make a second half adjustment to save their sorry asses for the third straight week… I’m still shaking my head with McCall’s play call on 4th and what was a half yard, having a gimpy QB run an option to the right no less as well… Our overrated receiving crew heard footsteps most of the night and despite all the recruting hype, still no deep threat in the program since Teddy Johnson…

    Net/net, should be good games with Rice and Minnesota at home.. Maybe, an upset over PSU or MSU at home and one other victory gets em six and a shot at ending the bowl losing streak… NU is most certainly, a bottom feeder in The Ten at this point, on par with Purdue in all probability… How much better than Indiana and Minnesota remains to be seen as well…

    Finally, you get a mulligan on your 41-40 prediction LTP, given the trauma to your body and narcotics allied to that… Be that as it may, more off the wall BS of that ilk will be chalked up to excessive consumption of high octane Purple Kool Aid… After five years, what you see is what you get with a Fitzgerald run program… Deal with it…

    • Nate

      Randy Walker (R.I.P. my friend), must be rolling over in his grave right now after witnessing NU fail to finish once again.

      2011 vs. Mich – up 10, L
      2011 @ ILL – up 18, L
      2010 @ Penn St. – up 21, L
      2010 vs. MSU – up 17, L
      2010 vs. Purdue – up 7, L

      Looks like a disturbing trend to me. So much for the “cardiac cats” magic, I guess the pixie dust has run out.

      After the ecstacy of 2008 and 2009, NU’s stock is plumeting with every week’s loss. Couple that with the addition of the ‘Huskers, and it appears that the ‘cats will be stuck in 5th place within the Ledends division barring some possible and seemingly necessary changes, either to coaching or recruiting.

      As far as attendance is concerned, one thing and one thing only will bring about more fans: WINS, and a lot of them. NU doesn’t have the luxury of filling RF with a large student section and an expansive alumni base, like the mammoth state schools of the rest of the B1G does. They need to continue marketing their brand throughout the Chicagoland area and hope they can acquire more loyal non-alumi fans while in the same token, push alumni and current loyal follower to pitch NU games to people they know. But above all, Wins will continue to help the fan base grow.

      • DT

        All due respect to the late Coach Walker, Randy oversaw more than a few collapses on his watch including 20 points in Hawaii to knock them out of bowl eligibility not to mention 20 point in The Sun Bowl to end the 04 and 05 seasons respectively.

        When one truly cuts to the chase, this program had one venerable season where it played “D” at a Top 25 level, being the 08 season… Still- when it counted, they pissed away a lead and ended the season with a bowl loss to Mizzou…

        Fitz brings much of the Walker culture… If you liked the program under Randy, you’ll dig it under Pat as well…

    • NUmanager

      @DT- There’s a lot to be disappointed about again this week. But railing on attendance, esp claiming there were only 12k NU fans, is beyond a stretch. Why you continue to try to undercut the efforts of the marketing dept is baffling. There is no easy fix to NU’s situation as a sports entertainment product. It’s a process, and progress is being made. I’d love to hear your plans for controlling ticket sales to opposing fans, especially how we can manage sales the secondary ticket market.

      If we’d played 2 good halves instead of just one, 41-40 would have been right on the mark. Why we can’t put two halves together is another issue altogether, but Michigan did not out-class us by any stretch.

      • DT

        @NU Manager-
        You are right, there might have been only 30K Michigan fans there, thus a robust 15-17K in Purple IN OUR OWN BUILDING… Give me a break… The Marketing Department should be judged primarily on its ability to put butts in the buckets. I speak for many folks saying I’m fed up with being a decided minority in our own stadium. NOTHING has changed in terms of this trend despite the hype and self congratulatory tone from the marketing department and AD. This is the same attendance pattern dating back to the 90’s and some would say way before that… NOTHING has changed at the gate. Save me the excuses both in marketing and on the field. There is no accountability with this football program in bottom line results for attendance anymore than for the crap “D” it continues to play on the field.

        Finally, per your “if we played 2 good halves” comment- woulda, shoulda, coulda, that has NU at 0-2. I’d say getting outscored 28-0 in said second half says more than a bit about being outclassed as well…

        • Philip Rossman-Reich

          The broadcast made it sound like NU had a 55-45 edge in fans. And honestly, the marketing department might have a tacit acceptance that the Michigans and Ohio States are going to bring fans. The trick is to get those same fans to adopt Northwestern as their second team and come to the other games and cheer for Northwestern.

          It is easy to discount the fans right now. They were loud in the first half when things went well. The second half, the NU fans had no reason to make any noise.

          • DT

            The broadcast was wrong… In a best case scenario for NU, was 60% Michigan fans there…

        • Ron

          Again, NU Manager asks a fair question and I wonder the answer as well? All you’ve given in return is a rant.

          How DO you control the flow of tickets from season ticket holders into the secondary market and then to visiting fans? How do you prevent my section 107- a season ticket section – from always feeling like a visiting team’s stadium? Put your hands in the air?? Yeah right, there were more than a few Michigan people doing it just to mock, since from our section it was something that we could only watch from across the field.

          • DT

            Hey, Ron…
            First off, from where I’m from, the answer I gave the Manager, is not a rant… Was a response. In terms of what I would do to change things at Ryan Field? Not my job to figure it out, nor should contributors this blog be put in a position to be pitched for ideas or for that matter, to sell tickets…

            Phillips, Polisky, and company are well compensated to figure it out… It’s their job… Do it…

        • Jim99

          Its simple

          Get a good team

          Fill the stands

          Expect Losses – dont fill the stands

          WE MUST

          reexamine our coaches

          reexamine our academic standards

          reexamine what the hell we can be and want to be

          WE cant market this team to Chicago like we have been and fail on the field

          We are becoming a mockery

          Yes…..a mockery

          • DT

            Wish it were that simple, albeit you make some good points…

            In all fairness to Fitz and football operations, a product worthy of more participation from the “average” Chicago sports fan took place in 08 and 09… Ticket sales or moreover, the NU fanbase did not grow per se… The lack of fan growth and partcipation is not on Fitz… On Phillips and Polisky.. Period…

            As Cece said, and is spot on– Going to take more than an ad in The Trib, and a few highway billboards. She is also correct in saying the country club mentality has gotta change as well… Treat your season tickets holders well… Was not the case at Wrigley during that publicity stunt last year…

        • NJcatsfan

          You may have some valid criticisms, but you are way, way off in terms of crowd breakdown. NU had a clear majority. Still way too many UM fans, but your 2-to-1 Blue estimate is just stupid.

          • Jim99


            I disagree – Fitz is to blame. He is allowing for horrible coaching this year and must push Phillips more for looser academic standards. His face – his program. That is what Chicago is seeing

            And – we need to remember that we compete aside the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls – tell me one other Big Ten team or any other NCAA team that is such close proximity (in a decent league mind you) to a marketplace of Sporting Power like Chicago. Tough crowrd to please and win over and lots of competition

            Grab them and dazzle them with a new arena and stadium…..Ryan Field clearly couldnt hold 47k last night – not meant for that anyhow……

          • James

            Jim99: College vs. Pro market comparisons, consider Rice, in Houston (which is about 80% the population of Chicago, and has teams in every major league, most of which don’t suck, at least not all the time).

            But having grown up in the Detroit area, my observation is that most Michigan football fans have no affiliation with the school, and are fans of both the Wolverines and the Lions. We don’t need to *compete* with the Bears for attention.

            Also, it’s very clear that, once they’re hooked, Chicago fans tend to put up with a LOT of losing… :)

        • Sideline ‘Cat

          I was standing on the sideline throughout the game, and there is no way Michigan fans outnumbered us. From the field, I saw no more than 20K.

          Your claim that 70% of the crowd wore yellow demonstrates that you’re either colorblind or an idiot.

          • DT

            Or maybe you can’t see the total picture being too close to the action so to speak… You my purple friend need the refresher in computation of attendance or test for color clarity… There were 20K Michigan fans on the combined East/South stands alone…

      • cece

        “why you continue to try to undercut the efforts of the marketing dept. is baffling.”

        why you would make this statement is baffling. DT is simply articulating reality…..there were so many Michigan fans in the seats last night, over half of the stadium, that it is beyond baffling what is being done to change that.

        what, exactly, on a granular level is done to get NU people in the stands? ads for Chicago’s Big Ten team will not do it, especially when the team is not playing well. we are not delivering enough of our own people to the stands. DT seems frustrated. why is his expression of frustration and questioning hit as undercutting the efforts of the marketing dept? Why is there some “party line” that we, even on a blog, are supposed to follow? when will NU stop the we run the country club mentality? just change things.

        • James

          We don’t *have* enough of our own people to fill the stands. NU creates under 2000 alumni annually. A significant proportion of graduates leave town (partly, this happens because NU recruits students from across the country). Compare to Michigan, with more than 3 times our student body, and only a small percentage coming from out of state (and thus more likely to stay in-state after graduation).

          But, what makes Michigan’s fan base so big isn’t their alumni, either– it’s the townies with no affiliation to the University.

          • cece

            yes, I know the annual numbers of alums. I am an alum. I don’t know that the alums we have in the Chicago area are properly cultivated. I have personal examples that show otherwise. I also know that the University is more than the alums. I don’t know that these folks are properly cultivated. during a recent visit to the hospital on the medical campus I did not find NU gear for sale in the store. I did find things for other schools. We’ve got a great business school. we need to market the school and the athletic programs in many different ways.

        • Closso

          “DT is simply articulating reality”

          I’m sorry. No, he’s not. Anyone who thinks it was close to 70% Michigan was either not at the game or too drunk to remember it.

          There was a VERY clear purple majority. The west side (which is where the majority of the seats are located) was almost entirely purple. East side was also mostly purple between the 30s, with lots of Michigan fans in the corners. Even the endzone wasn’t too bad.

          It was about 2/3 NU. 15k Michigan fans. MAYBE 20.

          • DT

            Hey, Closso-
            If you read the Mea Culpa I served up, I revised my thought from 70% to 60%… I’m sticking with it, pal…

            A couple things, I was at the game like I have been every GD time sans once since 94. Second thing, I don’t drink, smart ass… And if you think The East side was majority purple, AA might be the place for you…

          • Nate

            Too much of this thread alone has been arguing about how many Michigan fans were there. How about this for an answer: Too damn many!

            Memo to NU marketing dept.: Keep doing what you’re doing, but do whatever it takes to get Joe Chicago Sports Fan out to an NU game, and then make sure he has a great time so he will pass the good words along. Alums, step it up also.

            Memo to NU athletic dept and football coaching staff: Do whatever you can within the economic and academic boundaries you can to get some impact players in NU jerseys. Or, maximize your current players’ abilities so that they don’t crumble under pressure.

            winning + creative and influential marketing = larger loyal fan base

  • UVA Cat

    The statistic that stands out the most to me in this game is Michigan’s 14 of 17 conversions on 3rd down. If we can’t make stops when we need them, this is going to be a long, long season…

    • Mike

      A disturbing stat. Frankly, I did not expect us to win this game. However, what’s so frustrating is seeing us compete (and beat) teams through 2-3 quarters, then collapse.

      I was extremely disappointed (and angry) to see the 3 man rush still being implemented. On Michigan’s first possession of the second half, when we were up 10, we stuffed their first to runs for no gain. On third down, we rushed 3, and Robinson hit an open receiver under no pressure. I’m not going to say we win the game if that play goes differently, but how big would it have been to hold them to a 3 and out? Instead, they complete that pass, get a big Robinson jump ball, and the rest is history. Obviously that’s not the only problem with the defense this year, but it’s a big one.

      Is there someone masochistic enough to go through all the games the past couple seasons and see how each play turned out when Hankwitz goes in to that formation?

      • Narcissus Smith

        Against Denard, I can’t say the 3 man rush is a bad idea. You’ve got to keep as many people in front of him as possible. There were times when we had defenders with a clear path to him who just put their hands up and didn’t go at him; once again, hard to say that’s the wrong decision. For the most part we contained him on the ground.

        With the defense we have, it’s hard to complain about the job they did last night. They got some turnovers and only allowed a couple really big plays. The two turnovers by Ebert and Dunsmore/Persa hurt bad and allowed Michigan to totally control the second half. Sucks that we lost, but this is how you’re supposed to lose football games I guess: tough breaks rather than baffling coaching decisions.

    • Jim99

      An unnamed player told me post game last night that they have the worst 3rd down conversion stat in Big Ten – and the worst stats on defending the 3rd down on defense


      If so – pathetic

  • Al

    I was in the upper deck, in between the 10 and goal line, and there were just a handful of ‘Cats fans in my section. It looked to me like 80% of the east and south stands were for Michigan, as well as the upper deck. Near as I could tell, the west side was 70/30 Northwestern fans, and that includes the students.

    Overall I wasn’t unhappy with the offense (except for that unforgivably stupid 4th down play call) but man alive our pass defense is awful. I don’t know why opposing teams even bother handing off the ball. Robinson had all day to throw, and when you give a QB that much time, any receiver can get open. At this point I believe we simply do not have the talent on defense to compete at the FBS level. It isn’t schemes or coaching or formations, it’s raw talent. We don’t have it.

    • NU68

      Fitz can’t even recruit for and coach his own old postiion. What’s that about ….

  • richmanlobster

    I get it. You’re upset. So am I. The season has been disappointing and we’re currently staring at a losing record (2-3) for the first time since Michigan set us back to 2-3 in 2007 . I could spend the next chunk of this post blaming awful officiating for killing any and all momentum in the second half, but it won’t change anything. I’d rather take a few minutes stick up for the marketing department. In the 8 years that I have been a season ticket holder, this is the best job they have done by far. I can’t comment on your section but I had less than a dozen Michigan fans in my section. I was able to cheer with a like minded group of passionate purple-clad fans at a Michigan game. The last time we played Michigan at Ryan Field I was in the same seats I’m in now and I’ll never forget that game. I remember Omar Conteh running for a long touchdown and I put my arms up in the air to celebrate. Then I got showered with garbage from the Michigan fans behind me. This was in my home stadium. I went to security but I got waved off. He wasn’t going to mess with the sea of maize and blue that I came from. The point is that I trust my eyes. Tonight, I saw more purple than I have EVER seen at a Michigan or Ohio State game. It isn’t where we want to be as a program, but it is progress.

    That being said, I love the fire. Let’s just aim it where we need it . . . at Iowa City.

    • DT

      Really, I’m not upset per se… Just calling it the way I see it, lobster… My section, (130) is 90% NU much like it has been for the 13 years I’ve been in it… That said, its the vast majority of the rest of the stadium that was Maize and Blue that was readily apparent to me and OTHERS around me looking from the middle of the field… I’ve seen ALL the Ohio State games since 94 in person… To my way of thinking, never seen more opposing fans in attendance… Again, IMO…

      I’ll give you, the Marketing Department has done some things to make the game day elements “Better”… Little things, mean a lot… Be that as it may, the hype, and the self congratulatory tone in terms of TICKET SALES to new NU Fans, or moreover the Chicago Sports Fan looking for a college football affiliation was not helped in earnest by Wrigley Field, and certainly not helped by an ill timed Heisman Campaign for a young man coming off a possible career changing surgery competing nowhere near that level…

      • This is all crap. Of course, we are never going to be like the large Big 10 schools. But it basically comes down to winning, and we have virtually no impact players. It is as simple as that.

        • DT

          No Martin, this was about marketing and ticket sales and it sure as hell ain’t that simple, Dude… Thanks for the newsflash that winning helps that process nonetheless… Further, nobody is saying NU needs to be like the so called, “large” Big Ten schools.. What is being said, is that in the third largest metro area in America, with over six million people in a trade area, 40K could choose to participate in person on a regular basis with the proper approach and outreach… That much easier as you suggest following a winner… Pissing away leads on a regular basis does nothing for progress of any sort nonetheless…

    • Nate

      Well said. I’m not a season ticket holder, so Section 112 unfortunately was Michigan Land for me, but I loved the emotion and noise by my fellow NU fans in the west stands, you guys brought it when it was needed, well done.

      I think we as ‘cats fans can get caught up in the attendance stuff pretty quickly. Often when I watch another college football game I find myself saying “why can’t Ryan Field be the home to 40-43K loud and proud NU fans. I think one factor is the private vs. public school thing, as every other B1G school has much larger student and alumni bases compared to NU. I also think that the fact that NU has been too inconsistent over the past 20 years for droves of loyal fans to pack RF. But like you said richman, the fact that attendance was up quite a bit last year and should be again this year is a step in the right direction.

      All that’s left to do is continue selling the Northwestern model throught the current ad campaign while hopefully improving the on-field product.

      The more consistently good we get, and the more we market NU to people we know and/or larger masses of unclaimed college football fans, the attendance numbers will rise, and maybe one day in the near future a solid bar of purple will wrap itself around 90% of the horseshoe on Central.

      • timc

        NU has a vastly different situation from I think any other FBS team in the country. Small school in huge metro area-and a very attractive “make a weekend” destination at that. No matter who we play there are hordes of alums living right here. How many NU alums live in Iowa City, Lincoln, East Lansing etc.? We’ll always have this problem. Just different from the others. Period. But what’s really important is last night showed we have no margin of error. Even with fewer self-inflicted wounds than normal we just couldn’t complete the task.

        • joe bloe


          Chicago is a fun travel weekend for a visiting team alum, not to mention the numerous visiting team alums who already live in/near the Chicago area. In addition to Iowa City, Lincoln, East Lansing examples, could probably include any of the other BigTen campus locations. For example, unless you’re a Michigan fan or otherwise specifically interested in seeing U-M, visiting Ann Arbor is gonna be like visiting many other college towns, where everything is adorned with paraphernalia related to the local college. Detroit is a hour drive from Ann Arbor, but who is gonna get excited about visiting Detroit?

          (Re-stating the obvious …) Being a small private school (with somewhat higher admission standards), NU obviously possesses a smaller fan base as compared to the other 11 (public) universities in the BigTen.

          Can think of several recent away games within the past year (e.g., at Boston College for basketball and football), where there was significant NU fan support.

      • Lake The Posts

        Reaaly, ByeBye Fitz? WTF?

  • CrankyCat

    Memo to cats fans: Please stop wearing the “ALL WE DO IS WIN” shirts. It’s not helping.

  • PBRCat

    The first half was wonderful, but I am alarmed at the continued poor play that the Wildcats have been guilty of in the second half of their games. What happened to teams that come out of the locker room fired up after the break. Northwestern needed to play an error free game to compete, but after Denard Robinson generously served up three interceptions in the first half, the Cats were guilty of turning over the ball in the final two quarters.

    The saddest sight of the night: Dan Persa had an open lane in front of him, but opted to pass rather than scamper for a first down. It seemed as if he was favoring his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon and did not want to run. On another play, the Cats insert Colter for a draw play rether than risk Persa.

    This a good, middling quality team, but the missing pieces are obvious. There is no running back star; Northwestern has not had a deep ball threat at wide receiver in several seasons; unlike other teams, NU cannot kick the ball into the end zone on a consistent basis, so opponents usually start with good field position.

    It is hard to see any bowl possibilities other than the Pizza game in Detroit. Where Northwestern finds a sixth win, assuming we can handle Rice and outlast Indiana and Minnesota, is an open question. Maybe Iowa or Penn State, but nothing is certain.

    I am really worried about Northwestern’s second half play. Yes, the officials were wholly inadequate, but it did not matter too much.

    Fix the sound system and find a scoreboard operator who can keep up with the plays on the field.

    Talked to the Waterboy tonight, but that was not the Ryan Field highlight that I was looking forward to.

    • zeek

      At this point, I’ll take 6 wins. Just get a statement win against someone: Iowa, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State.

      • PBR Cat

        It would be sweet to continue to hammer Iowa, but I am worried that the Hawkeyes have had the jNW (to use Iowa lingo) circled in red on their schedules for sometime now. I am cautiously optimistic about upsetting Penn State if only because the Nittany Lions have been struggling to score points against other Big Ten teams. While Paterno has won two conference games so far, the scores have not been overwhelming. Northwestern has actually put up more points in its two conference losses than PSU has scored in its two wins.

        • timc

          Maine South could put up numbers on NU’s D.

  • mwmakerx5

    I disagree when people say we are lacking talent. We aren’t lacking talent; this is about bad coaching on the defense, especially the secondary. Denard Robinson is not that good, yet he was getting all the time he needed to hit receivers in the second half. What the hell gives with all of the second-half collapses? Something’s wrong with the game plan when you can shut down an offices for half a game and then fall apart after the half-time break. Something’s wrong with the adjustments (or the inability to adjust) when we have a lead. This is one of my most frustrating seasons in 17 years of having season tickets, because this team is more talented that this. Time for Hankwitz to feel some heat……his job should be on the line!

    As for the marketing department, they need to be careful. If you going to put out this brand of “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” then you better have the team that can back up the brand. So far, it ain’t happening.

    I see wins over Minnesota and Rice. Beyond that is anyone’s guess. I see this team as 4-8 or 5-7 unless something changes quickly on the defense. I hope I eat my words, I really do. But something tells me I won’t be traveling over the Christmas holidays this year.

    • Narcissus Smith

      Apparently you’re the idiot, and an asshole to boot. In a sport like football, you need talent and coaching. It’s entirely plausible for us to have enough talent to be a 9 or 10 win team, and for poor coaching to limit us to 5 wins. This shouldn’t be hard for you to understand.

      Personally, as an observer who isn’t breaking down tape or anything, I can make a rough judgment of skill position talent. It’s pretty clear we have plenty of talent at the offensive skill positions and not enough at defensive skill positions. Even with the defensive limitations, we’ve already lost two games due to poor coaching, not personnel.

    • mwmakerx5

      ByebyeFitz you are a bitter douchebag with an anger management problem. My thanks to Narcissus Smith for supporting my point and hitting it right on the head. Let’s face it, our defense sucks right now. But the fact they can shut down teams for half a game tells me that they either lack stamina or the coaching fails to make the necessary adjustments at halftime. The over-use of the 3-man and putting no pressure on the QB tells me it’s coaching and play calling.

    • cece

      mwmakerx5 is right on about the Chicago’s Big Ten Team comment. the team cannot back it up now. there must be other ways of getting our own people in the stands because much of Chicago is laughing right now. I’m hearing it from my friends.

    • PurpleDrank

      You’re right, a guy who had over 4,200 yards last year and became the only QB in NCAA history to rush and pass for over 1,500 yards in a season is “not that good”. He complete 65% of his passes last night on us despite 3 head scratching interceptions, which let’s face it, were more on him then our D and carried for 117 more. He is an unlikely Heisman candidate, but to call him “not that good” further undermines what he did to us.

  • zeek

    Well, the only practical way we get to a bowl game is to beat Iowa or Penn State.

    If this team falls to 2-5, the season is done because momentum can become an ugly thing and it’ll be that much harder to beat Nebraska or Michigan State to get a 6th win; all the pressure will be on us against Indiana, Rice, and Minnesota as well. It’s absolutely critical that we take one against Iowa or Penn State.

    Right now, Iowa looks like the more beatable team. Let’s just hope our defense can get stops…

  • zeek

    I think this is going to motivate the team a lot more at Iowa. The problem is they’re also fresh off a loss to Penn State. Both teams are going to be hungry.

  • chartmoose

    That was quite a battle.
    Face it, only 1 of the Heisman candidates really looked like a Heisman candidate at the end of the 1st half — and it wasn’t Denard…

    Hats off to Ibraheim Campbell: from a challenging game last week to 2 INTs this week — way to go!
    Hats off to the option play on the offense, especially in the first half — I’m not sure that our team has EVER run the option that effectively.
    Hats off to Venric Marc on his punt return — yes, there were times when he took some unwise risks & ran backwards, but that guy is definitely a playmaker.
    Hats off to Kain Colter — he had some pretty effective plays at wide receiver AND quarterback.
    And dare I go there — hats off to the goalline stand that almost was. Yes, almost doesn’t count: but if we need to prove that our defense has athletic ability and heart, do we need to do more than show how hard it was for Michigan to punch it into the end zone? Yes, Denard beat us to the corner — by a smidgen.

    I get it: we had a bad 2nd half and Michigan had a great 2nd half.
    Some of the letdowns were inexplicable (turnovers by Ebert &
    Dunsmore, who have been rocks of reliability for years).
    Sometimes it just isn’t your night…

    But the guys played hard, and the coaches coached hard.
    Let’s give credit to Michigan & dust ourselves off.

    It was a fun game to watch, and only 3 things would have made it more fun:
    1) A victory
    2) Fewer loud/drunk/obnoxious Michigan fans in the purple section. SHAME on the season ticket holders who gave up their seats to Michigan fans.
    3) A little bit more volume & spirit from those wearing purple.

    #1 is the job of the coaches & players. #2 & #3 is our job :)

    Go Cats!

    • timc

      LTP, any chance of banning this guy (ByeByeFitz)? One of the the best things about this blog is the civility. This guy doesn’t belong.

      • chartmoose

        I think ByeByeFitz has had some helpful commentary from time to time. But this person has wished death on 2 people last week and 1 person this week — very uncool!

        Sometimes the anonymity of the Internet leads people to say unfortunate things.
        My assumption is that if ByeByeFitz met me in person, he wouldn’t wish for me to die and might even do what civil people do when they step out of line — apologize.

        To the substance of the matter:
        If I can’t point out that Persa’s performance was better than Denard’s performance in the 1st half (**3** interceptions), then I really am coming to the wrong place…

    • Lake The Posts

      Sorry ByeBye Fitz – you’ve hit three strikes and will now be edited. Any posts like this will be deleted..starting now. Your language and hostility aren’t welcome here. ByeByeFitz!

      • cece

        I’m all for free commentary, but thanks LTP. Bye Bye Fitz was way out of bounds.

  • knickelbein5

    The one positive coming from this game: BLACK UNIFORMS! Those were sick, retro 2000. Nobody seems to have commented on those I am a huge fan.

    • jnvh

      I also loved the Black – as did my Hawkeye brother-in-law

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      The black uniforms are nice. But NU has not won when wearing black the last six years! Just something to ponder on…

      And what about the band uniforms? Those looked really nice.

      • DT

        The uniforms were outstanding… Very cool!

  • AntiqueCat

    First off, and let’s get it out of the way, officiating was horrible beyond comment. MI was bumping and grabbing WRs throughout, the helmet-face mask no call was contemptible, and the uncalled false starts on MI were quite strange. Should not have affected the outcome.

    This was winnable. Despite the large attendance from MI, the place had a lot of energy, the first half was well played, the offensive and defensive play calling was creative. The defense was swarming, aggressive, and if not great, good-enough.

    Who was the team that came out in the second half? Not the team that played the first half. They came out passive on both sides of the ball, as though they were waiting for something bad to happen. It did. What happened?

    Persa didn’t have his best game. He didn’t see Christian Jones wide open wide – MI just wasn’t covering him. That happened right in front of me throughout the 1st half. He’s still tentative about running. I don’t blame him at all for that. He just wasn’t superman, and NU shouldn’t expect Superman to win every game for them.

    At least when the D went with 3 down linemen, they often blitzed. I think that was a new wrinkle. Didn’t help much. Why, o why, don’t they give poor Matthews a little help? He just isn’t a lock down corner. I know they want his speed out there, and he might have been a pretty good corner with more experience and help, but that won’t happen. He made a couple of good plays, but gets beat deep regularly and predictably. PREDICTABLY. That means the coaches (Hey, Jerry Brown! Wake up!) should be able to do something about it.

    And an especial shout-out to Jacob Schmidt for great blocking picking up MI blitzes.

    Does it seem to anyone else that we have an awful lot of players not dressing, wandering the sidelines? Just how many injured guys to we have?

    And last – can anyone tell me why Persa was in at all for the last 2:20? It was garbage time. Is there something immoral about giving Siemian or Watkins some reps?

  • AntiqueCat

    Oh yeah, I forgot. MI doubled TOP in the second half. Complete defensive failure. If they want us to stand for third down, STOP THEM ONCE IN A WHILE! My knees hurt.

  • Just the Facts

    With respect to the game play, I thought the dropped pass in the end zone at the end of the 1st half hurt as the Cats should have been up 14 rather than 10 (frankly, with 3 takeaways in the 1st half, the Cats should have had an even bigger lead). Of course, the two turnovers in the 2nd half were momentum killers. I thought the secondary was improved in terms of not blowing coverage. The long passes were underthrown jump balls that NU didn’t win. I am disappointed (but not surprised) that the secondary was not told to look for the ball once the receiver was 25 yards down the field. Throughout the year, most of Denard Robinson’s long passes have been underthrows that would be INTs if the defender looked for the ball. Frankly, if the defender has you beat, it is not going to matter if you look back if the ball is well thrown. But on the underthrown balls (and most college QBs will throw more of these than the perfect pass), it is better to look back for the ball.

    A few non-game play thoughts. I agree that there seemed to be more opposing fans than any game I can remember. Did all of these Michigan fans buy season tickets just for this game? Did 15,000 Cats fans sell their tickets for this game to Michigan fans? Otherwise, since single game tickets weren’t sold for this game, how did that many tickets get to Michigan fans? Very disappointing and sad.

    Also, the concession stands were up to their old, bad ways. By halftime, the stands on the lower West side of the stadium were out of things such as water, pretzels, and ice (they were able to find some more ice). They knew this game was a sellout for weeks. How can you run out of these things? Bottled water is not a perishable (at least through the whole season) so how can that not be stocked in sufficient quantities? It seems as though there is no inventory management with the concessions.

    The sound system was OK but it would have been nice to hear at least one of the referee’s calls without it cutting out (wait, I take that back, we were probably better off not hearing those calls).

    To end on a positive, I liked the band’s new uniforms and they played well and did some difficult designs on the marching.

    • PBR Cat

      Where were you sitting? I suppose that you could hear the announcer if you were closer to the North End Zone, but believe me when I tell you it was difficult to understand anything if you were seated further South. All of the overhead speakers in the lower grandstand were strangely silent. Over the past few games, Northwestern has erected a scaffold on the roof of Randy Walker Terrace and placed large speakers up there in order to try to broadcast the announcer and the music to the rest of the stadium. This plan is not working well as the sound is muffled as it travels across the field. None of the people in our section could understand the most of the announcements and it was also clear that the officials could not be understood — even when they were trying to reset the game clock several times. This created a few delays.

      Northwestern needs to repair its speakers.

      • Narcissus Smith

        I’m in the grad student section and can literally hear nothing over the PA. This is something that seems easy/not expensive to fix, and as long as it’s a problem it makes us look like amateur hour at the Big Ten.

        The scaffolding makes it impossible to see the screen from where we are, but I understand it’s necessary.

        I don’t care about the concessions or the fact that lots of the stadium is decrepit, but a functioning PA and another screen for replays would make a ton of difference for me.

        • cece

          north end sound was awesome, including the sound from the band. announcer sounded different, and could not hear above applause. agree that speakers gone from the back of the stadium might make a difference to some. if speakers from the north end can also be put at south, would be good.

  • Doug


    I read your site daily, and generally love it; but its time to stop ragging on Schmidt (he’s not great, fine, but give it a rest!) and criticize where it is truely due — on Fitz. 1-4 when leading by 17 is only the beginning. He simply is incapable of making adjustments, especially on defense. If its Hank, he’s got to go. If its Fitz, he needs to be moved into a different position. He’s a great brand ambassador, and I want Ryan Field filled with purple as much (more? is that possible?) than you do. But the man is not a good game coach and 6 years is plenty to have his ducks in a row. Unfortunately, they are not.

    Maybe what needs to happen is that we need new coordinators (McCall is a great QB coach but I also question his ability to adjust), because I don’t want to see Fitz leave NU…but he really can’t continue to blow leads and lose close games and be the head coach of a Big Ten team.

    • Narcissus Smith

      The criticism of Schmidt is more to do with the coaching anyway. He’s a good third down back (great blocker and receiver) with serious limitations, but the playcalling often uses him as a feature back. The common use of him in the option is Exhibit A: he cannot get the corner against Big Ten competition. Stop doing it.

    • Lake The Posts

      Not ragging on Schmidt. I was ragging on a draw play on 3rd and 18.

    • db

      I would think wisconsin knew what they were doing when they thanked hank for his contributions and let me go 90 miles south.

      Coach Vandy should make a return appearance. Associate head coach. Fitz shd feel comfortable enough in his own skin to let that happen.

      I love people calling for fitz’s head. Really guys? Who replaces him – Kevin Wilson? Who if he wins 7 games then leaves the program? Thatt’s just stupid. This is the guy, he will grow into the job as he gains experience. But he does need a DC. And an OC that doesnt freeze up after his scripted plays run out (not the problem last night, but historically).

  • CatInTheHat

    Nothing to say. You want my feelings on the matter, read my comments following the Illini loss. The same basically applies here.

    Up ten at halftime, I texted a friend and said “watch–30 unanswered by Michigan in the second half,” and guess what? 28 unanswered. ‘Nuff said.

    Michigan and their assbag fans continue to underwhelm me as members of humanity (as evidenced by the guy sitting next to me at a bar in Virginia Beach with his 2-year-old son, slapping the kid and telling him to “shut the f*** up and watch the damn game” multiple times throughout the evening while his mother did nothing more than roll here eyes).

    Thanks to the Virginia-based posters who recommended RJ Gators. I went to the Hilltop location, and though it was full of three-toothed Michigan riff-raff, the game was on multiple TVs, and they were playing the sound. Service was friendly, and I would definitely watch there again if I’m ever in the area.

    Not holding out much hope for the rest of this season. This was supposed to be our time, and we’ve blown it. Our “Heisman campaign” is the laughingstock of the Big Ten. I can tell you that, regardless of what is posted here, NU is once again seen as the Dark Ages Mildcats, and for good reason. As a fan, it’s heartbreaking. What else is there to say? I’m angry as hell at Fitz, at the defense, at the completely passionless “performances” we keep turning in with big leads, the utter lack of conditioning. This is a bad football team and a program that appears headed in the wrong direction. I am not calling for Fitz’s head, but I blame him for this, and he needs to right the ship.

  • jnvh

    This was disappointing to me as well, as we had a halftime lead and were looking good, but after sleeping on it, it doesn’t sting as bad as IL. Why?

    -The Offense: McCall had a great gameplan, and outside of 2 turnovers from seniors, it worked. 26 1st downs and 400+ yards offense works, and he did a good job getting Colter and Marc involved. Save a few wrinkles, that happen in most games, because the other team is there trying to stop you (3rd/4th downs, turnovers), I was fine with the offense.
    -the defense: yeah, the 3-man line wasn’t great, but as AntiqueCat said, they blitzed from it, which is okay too. And getting pressure on Robinson may not be the best thing, because he can break the pocket and run against fewer guys. I think that is why we played zone as well, so when he did break the pocket everyone was watching.
    -The defense 2: Robinson had 25 carries, and only 4 were longer than 10 yards. 8 of his carries were for zero yards or a loss, and another 6 were for 1-3 yards. so 56% of his carries went for 3 yards or less, and his median carry was 3 yards. The DL and LBs did a great job swarming. His longer runs were usually when a defender was pushed out of his gap, or left his gap (like on the bobbled snap, McNaul went wide for the ball and Robinson zipped straight where he used to be).
    -The defense 3: At least 100 of those passing yards were 50/50 jump balls. the pass defense wasn’t great, but the defensive scheme in general limited most of Robinson’s runs and made him throw.

    And I don’t think NU got outcoached. the only adjustment i saw MI make at halftime was “Denard, don’t be an idiot when you throw it”. He wasn’t in the second half, and we got steamrolled, mainly because we had a tough time keeping them in 3rd and long, and then stopping them on 3rd and short. We didn’t have much chance to stop Robinson over the course of a game, and save those 2 turnovers, our offense was keeping pace.

    It is disappointing to lose a game when we had a lead, per usual, and apparently the days of Kafka-to-Markshausen 60%+ 3rd down conversion percentage are over, but I thought the team played well, executed well, and if we play like this against the middle-tier in the B1G we have a shot to win out.

    Go ‘Cats!

    • Narcissus Smith

      Agree. We’re just not as good as them. Very frustrating when we still could have won, but not as bad as Illinois. We got our wish with the playcalling (loved Venric and Kain getting involved) and it worked. The second half turnovers hurt and we couldn’t get their offense off the field.

      Denard is very overrated.

  • NUCat_TX

    The team needs to find it’s identity on both sides of the ball. Are we a 4-3 bend don’t break? Are we a 3-4 blitzing ro the dice? Is our offense a conservative don’t make mistakes? Are they a 50-plus passes a game team? Nobody seems to know! Injuries contribute to that confusion, but the responsibility of establishing that identity is shared between players and coaches. We have talent to win in the B1G. No question about it – if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have the leads to blow in the first place – maybe we do it once or twice, but we consistently demonstrate we are in these games and can win. I am convinced it is mental – shared between coaching and players. At a certain point in each game, winning teams assert their dominance over the opponent. Just look at Wisconsin last week and Michigan this week in their respective second halves. Until this team and coaching staff figures out their identity ( yes it should never take 5+ games to do that…) and assert it with brute force… we are at best 5-7 or 6-6.

  • Wolfcat

    With regards to ticket sales and large amouts of visitors in our stands; I have heard on more than one occasion from those visitors that they are winning tickets from commercial sponsors in their own campus towns and in contests from companies such as Gatorade. Anyone else hearing or knowing anything about this??

  • Cardiac_cat_fan

    Aside from the tragic Army loss, we’ve been beaten by two now to be top 15 ranked teams. I just hope the fire we started off this last game with carries over. Our defense is too soft. Nothing more we can do there than just score more points. The turnovers can be corrected. I was shocked to see both Ebert and Dunsmore falter. Ebert looked in near tears after his fumble. We moved the ball when we put speed out there and spread the field and ran off the edge. We are a past first team and it paid off for part of the game. Next week is Iowa. Go Cats!

  • JimB98

    I think those ragging on the amount of Michigan fans as the most opposing fans ever, especially DT, have very selective memories. I sit in the middle of the field on the east side of the stadium. I assume most of you sit on the west side. I can assure you that there were way more purple fans than normal on the west side and more around my section of the field (it’s hard to get a good feel beyond that, perhaps your problem). I’ve been to “home” games against Wisconsin where >50% of the west side and most of the people around me were wearing red. People in my section all commented how this game was an improvement for us for big game home attendance.

    Would I have rather had even more fans cheering for the home team? Sure. But you have to acknowledge it was an improvement, and I’m sure Michigan, like most other B1G schools has a much larger fan base than us in the Chicago metro area. The challenge will be keeping it up our modest gains if we continue to collapse in the 2nd half of our games and limp to a 5 or 6 win finish with a senior laden team.

    I’m not sure it really would have affected the game, because we were incapable of stopping Michigan on defense without a turnover anyway, but I’m surprised at the lack of coverage (and outrage) of the Persa helmet incident. There were several other officiating calls/no calls that looked curious from the stands but that one seemed really ridiculous.

    Even if you didn’t actually SEE the facemask don’t you have to throw the flag there anyway? How else could his helmet have come off? Especially knowing that by not throwing the flag you are handing the other team the ball. Complete BS – I hope we file a complaint or protest against that crew. Like I said, I think we probably lose anyway, but that was tough to watch.

    • enlightenedbum

      Michigan fan here: you guys got jobbed on that call, though Kovacs didn’t grab Persa’s facemask. He grabbed the back of Persa’s helmet as Persa ducked under his flying tackle attempt (just wrap up! argh!) which by rule still counts as a facemask I think. I know it does in the NFL and don’t see why the college rule would be different. There was also a false start they missed inexplicably.

      On the other hand though you guys got away with a lot of holding on offense. There was one long handoff/WR screen that was particularly egregious in the first half but there were four or five I thought were blatant holds the crew decided not to call. It was a terribly officiated game all around.

      I hope Persa stays healthy and starts feeling more confident with his injury and you guys win some games. Unfortunately I think your secondary is going to make it tough except against the Minnesotas of the conference.

      The one complaint you guys have that I think is mitigated or at least explainable is that with Denard really going after him in the pocket leads to a lot of run lanes for him. Ideally you still get someone in his face so he panics and throws off his back foot for the fiftieth time this season. But I understood your coaching staff’s thinking. I think you want to make him throw and hope he hands you enough points to win the game/take advantage of an improving but shaky Michigan defense.

      • joe bloe

        One of the replay shots seemed to show Kovacs hand on Persa’s facemask. Detroit Free Press seems to agree (although, just because the Free Press says so, doesn’t necessarily mean it must be true).

        Replay of the interception off Dunsmore’s shoulder pad showed limited possession of the ball by Brandin Hawthorne before the ground knocked it loose, but the call was already made and maybe not enough evidence to overturn the interception.

        Ref’s also missed several instances of Michigan’s O-line holding, as well as movement prior to snap.

        Denard has receivers that are willing to go up for the jump ball and bring it down (e.g., the Notre Dame win), and until teams can stop that, all Denard has to do is limit his wild throws to the opposition and get the ball into the general area of his receivers. NU did a decent job of containing Denard and the Michigan run game (particularly in the first half), but the long balls were killers (just like in the previous week with Scheelhaase and Jenkins).

  • ConditionedCat

    Defense looked out of condition by mid 3rd Quarter. They were reaching and out of position from that point on. Obviously not stopping on 3rd downs doesn’t help the situation. The good news is that conditioning is something the Team can control.

    I liked the creativity from the use of Mark and Colter. It did seem to keep Michigan on their heels and maintain NU’s momentum in the first half. The lack of finishing games reminds me of Barnett’s 94 season, leading many tough fought games, but then ultimately losing the games because the Team didn’t believe…seemed like they were always waiting for the shoe to drop. I agree that this is probably mental. In fact things were so bad mentally in those early Barnett years, he actually brought in a psychiatrist into Camp Kenosha at the start of the ’95 season to help with this. Not saying it anywhere near that level now, but there does seem to be some ‘deer in the headlight’ moments in the 2nd half of our losses, so we have to get more mental toughness, I guess.

    Dare I dream of a 2009 turn around as we get more playing experience and in better conditioned in the 2nd half of the season, and play better. Fitz Teams do seem to improve as the season goes along, so I am optimistic this Team and coaching staff finds a way to a 4th consecutive bowl game and end the drought.

  • go-nu

    Agree. Time for byebyefitz to go bye bye.

    • PBR Cat

      Amen to that!

  • Wildcats99

    Last week I was furious, but this week I genuinely feel that the Cats gave it their all and so I have come to terms with the loss.

    I think that our two turnovers (unlike Denard’s interceptions) were just unfortunate flukes and not bad decisions by Dan. Unfortunately, however, I think we all forgot that Dan is indeed human while he was away and while he still has the same heart he just doesn’t have the same escapability yet. But I really admired his determination in the 4th downdlay when his helmet came off. Also, in garbage time, when the coaches took him out he was furious. He is a warrior and I feel really badly for him that things haven’t gone his way so far.

    I really want to thank the coaches for listening to last week’s outrage and “letting it rip.”. At least we put it all out there on the field.

    I think unfortunately our defense is just not dominant and is going to be overmatched when opposing offences execute well. I think we really need to improve our coverage. Perhaps we should play more “man to man.”

    I was glad to see Fitz sticking up for Dan when his helmet came off.

    Let’s face it, this season won’t live up to the hopes and hype, but let’s just embrace that and have fun with it. There is no pressure of a championship run, so let’s take chances and give the team an opportunity to grow. Let’s try new “schemes.”. Let’s try trick plays. And let’s experiment to figure out what works on defense so that next year we can re-enter the hunt. We are now the spoilers. Let’s have some fun with it and maybe win the Pizza bowl over the holidays.

    I’ve stopped being upset. It is what it is. Let’s stop getting angry and be productive. Sometimes things don’t work out, but crying about it never makes it better.

  • NUCat_TX

    Winning sells tickets. And it’s almost a formula: (For NU butts in seats, not visitors):

    worse than 6-6 = less that 30,000
    from 6-6 to 8-4 between 30-40 thousand
    9-3 and better: 40,000 plus
    Top ten ranking: 50,000 plus

  • PittsburghWildcat

    Flew out for the game yesterday. A lot of things have been well discussed, but I think I can summarize by saying a lot of NU specific areas need to raise their game. I’ll touch on a couple of nonplaying, coaching and officiating opinions.

    * I have season tix on the west side and while there were a few michigan fans, I didn’t think it was bad. But pretty much everything on the east side outside of thr 40 yard lines plus the end zone was all maize. I can’t see the upper deck from my seats.

    * sound system was terrible. The PA announcing was not only muffled, but low volume.

    * music. NUMB starting to be micd, but I swear they sounded softer in the 2nd half. Also, someone please let the mktg staff know not to play songs the other teams fan base identifies with.

    * I didn’t go to a concession stand personally, but if they were not prepared for this game, that is unacceptable.

    * hands in the air celebrity. One word: lame. Pres. Shapiro is the best you could do knowing this game would be a sellout for several months?

    * something also has to be done on the west side postgame because the bus lines fill up the entire area and it is impossible to move around. Big herd of cattle standing there.

    On those notes, I’ll be back in Evanston in 2 weeks. Go Cats.

  • Ronster

    went to previous Mich games and not so many visiting fans…before stub hub….saw $40 end zone tickets and season tkt holders get $115 easy……far as the action….drastic change at defensive co-ordinator needed !

  • PittsburghWildcat

    Oh forgot one thing.

    For anyone else at the game, could any of you get cell signals in the stadium? I know a lot of folks who could not.

    Minor inconvenience I know.

  • db

    Really DT? We’re going to spend time, money and energy of our marketing department trying to figure out how to keep a school with an ENORMOUS Chicago alumni base out of the stadium? That’s what they should be doing – because that’s possible? The team has been awful forever, they are ranked #11 in the country, they havent played in Evanston in years, they play a night game in the middle of a 3 day holiday weekend, and we are supposed to keep them out of the stadium? That’s just a pointless rant.

    You wouldn’t have heard boo out of their crowd if our best players held on to the ball and we recruited cornerbacks taller than 5’8″.

    We are not a football superpower and never will be. We cant drop TD catches and win. We dont have to be perfect, but when we play a good team we better be pretty damn close. The tickets will sell when we win, and then they wont when we stop winning. I dont remember anyone complaining about the opposing crowds in 95/96. And I’m pretty sure our marketing dept then was kids on work/study taking calls.

    Railing on a marketing dept to sell tix for an up and down team, when they have been in place for what a year or 2? And then railing on them also for hyping the team? So sell tix – but dont hype the team. Got it, chief.

    And I love your solution – the old “I have no f’ing idea that’s their job” routine. There are a lot of things you dont know much about i would bet.

    • DT

      You have had your rant now. I’ll admit, there are many things I don’t know much about, but I do know when I see more Michigan fans in our stadium than “us”… The trick is not to keep Michigan fans OUT, but to create a market for new NU Fans… I’ll continue to submit, in the third largest market in the country, NU Marketing has been woefully ineffective, despite what might indeed good intentions…

      Would also say, hype is one thing, results are another. You can certainly comprehend that as well, Chief…

      • db

        They got serious about marketing less than 2 years ago. Give them a chance. And it all needs to be tied into the new facilities plan anyway which isn’t solidified.

        The team that played last night lost an awful game to army and collapsed the week before. We need momentum to fill seats.

        There are a lot of things mediocre about the athletic history of our school. I just find it odd that in year 2 of them actually trying to do something about it that you find it a compelling use of time to critique it.

        They jumped all over the persa thing, and chicago’s big ten team is talked about as well. Perhaps they jumped the gun with the superlatives, but we have never seem any kind of action audacity like that previously.

        There are a lot of things to criticize about this year, just didnt think marketing was one of them.

        • DT

          I respect your input and get your take… I guess, time will tell…

      • willycat

        DT, the handle sounds very appropriate. Stop with there were more Michigan fans in Ryan. At the best there might have been 15,000 to 18,000 and that’s less then in the stands in previous years. Think about it and I guess a lot to ask but Ryan seats 47,000 or so Nu has about 18,000 ST holders and probably 2,000 students at the game . ST holders also bought an additional 5,000 to 6,000 tickets and local folks probably account for another two or three thousand. That adds up to somewhere near 30,000, leaving approximately 17,000 seats available for Michigan people. The real problem is NU so-called fans who sell their tickets and parking passes to the enemy and not the ticket or marketing staffs. Oh, and the Wrigley Game was the best marketing idea ever put forth by NU, by far. It increased the ST base significantly and got NU more media attention since the 95′ Rose Bowl run.

        • DT

          Cute handle there… Massage the numbers how you see fit and make you feel better… I’ll submit better than 28K in attendance were Michigan fans… Easy to woof on folks who you assume are season ticket holders for selling seats as the reason for the attendance and ignore the deal NU Marketing cut with the UM Alumni Association selling tickets through them at a discount for instance… And champion that season ticket bump via Wrigley to ticket brokers and casual fans who would not give a Cats Ass about games at Ryan.

          Finally if a publicity stunt turned pub crawl in Wrigleyville is the best marketing done, we are in for 30K plus supporting the opposition in Ryan Field for many years to come…

          No million dollar study needed for that one…

  • Lake The Posts

    @DT – C’mon man, at least acknowledge right before half when we dropped the sure TD to put up 28, you thought, man, LTP might be light in his 41 points?
    @all – I’ve deleted ByeByeFitz’s inappropriate comments. Thanks for helping to police the LTP board. No place for that kind of absolute absurdity. Let’s keep it clean. You want to rant, go nuts, but don’t make it personal and I know I don’t have to warn folks about threatening someone’s life. Good God. Let’s keep this forum what we want it to be – civil debate and banter in the fair name our beloved ‘Cats. Even when they are 2-3.

    • DT

      Full disclosure, I did indeed think just that… Further, I thought they had at least a touchdown a quarter in the second half left in em as well…

  • BacktoMediocrity

    LTP, I hope I’m wrong, but I really think that you’re grossly overstating the prospects for the rest of this season by positing that every remaining game is winnable. I think it’s far more accurate to say that every remaining game is also loseable. (A team that lost to Army then losing to teams like Indiana or Rice seems far less a stretch than a team winning in Lincoln just because they played Illinois tough.)

    My personal belief is that the Penn State game will decide whether we are even going bowling at all this season.

    That said, also count me among the fans surprised by the reaction on this blog to attendance by Michigan fans. I’d have guessed attendance was 60-40 in favor of Northwestern rather than in favor of Michigan, and I moved between the student section and the terrace during the game so I was able to see plenty of the stadium. I’m just as frustrated as anyone else by the usual “barely better than neutral field” atmosphere, but Michigan State last year and Ohio State in 2002 come to mind as games with far larger road contingents. (I’m sure there have been others, but I only attended games in 2002-2005 and last year.)

    • DT

      We have in essence been mediocre every year since Y2K sans maybe, 08… Also, I disagree with you that Sparty and Ohio State had larger contingents than Michigan… This was the largest contingent of Michigan fans I’ve seen dating back 92, and certainly on par with any Ohio State mustered…

      • joe bloe

        Michigan has had problems in recent years, including going back to Lloyd Carr (e.g., Appalachian State followed by a blowout the following week by Dennis Dixon and the Oregon Ducks, both in the Big House, to start the 2007 season 0-2). You then got the three RichRod years, including 2 losing seasons (and no post-season) as well as other memorable losses (e.g., Toledo). Yeah, Michigan fans are probably excited this year, plus it has been awhile (2007) since they had the opportunity to travel to Evanston/Chicago.

        (FYI – In the last game at Evanston, NU was up 16-7 at the half but Michigan scored 21-0 in the 2nd half to win that game, too.)

    • Lake The Posts

      I may very well be wrong. The pain here is that the Big Ten is obviously weak across the board outside of Madtown and the pain of not capitalizing on this season is torturous with our senior-laden personnel. I’m encouraged by the fact we finally played to our strength and cut out the false hope that we were a running team. I’ve watched a lot of football of our upcoming opponents and outside of a trip to Nebraska which spots them 7-to-10 b/c of the crowd, I don’t see a point spread of more than 5 on either side of the ledger the rest of the way except for Minnesota and Rice. Nearly every game is a toss-up, with Indiana, Minnesota and Rice being games we should and have to win. Can we split Iowa, PSU, Nebraska and Sparty? I very much believe we can, but we need major surgery to our secondary and an aggressive pass rush to do so.

  • Jim

    There are certainly positives to take into the remainder of the season.
    Although there have been legitimate gripes about the defense and coaching over the past two weeks, NU’s offense will only become more fun to watch as the season progresses. ( I haven’t a clue about the pass D. )

    1. NU has to continue the uptempo pass oriented offense accompanied by continued experimentation with the likes of Colter, Mark and others.

    2. Persa may not become his 2010 self..but he will exhibit more mobility than we saw in the last two weeks.

    3. Mix in more deep pssses like the one to Christian Jones.

    4. Neither Iowa or PSU “should” beat NU after watching yesterday’s game, if we take our uptempo aggressive pass offense to them early and keep the pressure on throughout the game.

    5. There is no one left on NU’s schedule that they can’t beat offensively.

    6. If winning the “Pizza Bowl” is all that’s left to play for, so be it. If you have a long-term ( Pre 95 ) perspective on NU, winning the “Pizza Bowl”
    will still be positive momentum for the future.


    don’t know if this makes sense…but go to NIU games now and then and they have stadium seats in some parts and easy parking….comfortable and easy in….when I take kids and others….I have to get there 2 1/2 hours early just to make sure our bleacher seats aren’t absorbed and park….especially in the cold this is a hastle…also so many visiting fans I can’t take it any more and must pay up for home field side….just sayin…………..price is not the question here…would rather pay $60 and have good seat….this would take up more space but it’s not like we sell out very much ?…don’t have to go to Northwestern to understand sometimes you must spend money to make some !

  • David

    We were outclassed in the second half. Still consider our second half possessions.
    1, on 3rd down Persa late helmet to helmet hit by Roh…and Ebert was tripped.
    2. Pass deflected off Dunsmore and not quite picked…yet not reversed…it was criminal that FItz had to challenge that play. It should have been reviewed.
    3. Ebert fumble
    4. Persas helmet ripped off on 4th down. I was glad Fitz picked up the penalty..he had to stand up forhis team.
    5. Colter gets to the 1…1st down two seconds left and the officials do not stop the clock.

    4 of 5 drives were f’ed up by the refs

    Not to mention the false start on third and one.

    Those things take a toll.

  • Ron

    Agreed on the deleted commenter. I’d hate to see this board turn into some that we’ve all seen on the Internet. This site has always been a pleasure to read, both because of the writing at the top and because of the civility of the comments. Thanks for providing it, LTP.

  • TypeO

    What this game showed me is that the Cats have to play a near perfect game to beat a decent team. Our secondary is putrid and badly coached, though the three picks were nice against a QB who throws it up for grabs on just about every play. Our defense cannot get the other team off the field – UM punted once. Unlike last week, at least we didn’t turtle in H2 – the turnovers killed us but unfortunately not so with UM in H1. The drops hurt a lot – 4 points off the board and a key int. I saw no adjustments in the offensive game plan in H2 but again go back to the mistakes. Why make adjustments when you put up 300 yds of offense? The only wrinkle was having Mark on defense. Certainly not an A effort by the coaches but not an F either.

  • Wolfcat

    My biggest criticism of Fitz this weekend was his lockeroom apology on the radio for losing his temper on the field. I don’t want my Head Coach apologizing for defending his players. I want Fitz to start acting like the very intense high expectation Head Coach he promised to be.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      I like and appreciate the passion from Fitz in that situation. What he was apologizing for was costing his players 15 yards and putting them in an even deeper hole. He is supposed to be the example they follow and while his tantrum might have been warranted, it is certainly not exemplary.

  • Wolfcat

    I understand what you are saying about the example he sets for his players and team; however given our current perception of not being a strongly competitive team I would rather the example be of a tough leader defending his player than one who is gentlemanly apologizing for disappointing the fans and players. Our tough team perception starts with our Head Coach. Thats all I am saying. Nice coaches don’t win championships. I have been attending games since 1989 and have had season tix since 94.

  • Michigan fan here. I want to clear one misconception I’ve read several times about ticket sales – Northwestern did offer single game tickets to the Michigan alumni association. I bought three off Northwesterns ticket office site using a password that had been supplied from the alumni association. I also saw said password forwarded along several times to students. Getting tickets straight from Northwestern was easy. They even gave me a 5% discount.

    • DT

      Appreciate the information… Hope you enjoyed your visit… We are hospitable folks from our ticket sales and discounts to fans selling tickets for profit… More power to The Michigan folks for supporting the team…

      NU Tickets and Marketing- Shame on you…

      • dolphin146

        We gave Michigan fans a discount?????? My God. Should be the other way around, a 5% premium.

        I am sure NU alums get the same consideration at Michigan ….

  • Chris ray

    Chris Ray
    3 hrs, 48 mins ago
    This was my first NU game. I have season tix in 127. The sound system is terrible. It was a great first half and a disappointing 2nd half. I dont understand the comments here about fans, we stood for great plays and big plays. Michigan fans were all around us and they stood too for the same plays. As for the older fans as we qere walking out , two older blue hairs were cussing up a storm mf’n the NU players and coaches. The blue hairs swore they were not giving anymore money to Wildcat? I take this as a time for younger alumni and fans to step up support to the program.

    • DT

      First off, welcome to Ryan Field… Know going forward at least 2-3X per year, opposing fans will be sitting around you in large numbers. I’ve sat in Section 129 and 130 for 18 years and still remains the same in the middle of Cats Territory on The West Side…

      Give The “Blue Hairs” a break by the way… After 25+ years of happy horseshit and roller coaster rides, those AARP members have earned the right to say WTF they want… Was not too long ago, I had no gray hair and the “Blue Hairs” of the early 90’s were telling me I represented a new kind of NU Fan… Twenty years later, the same shit goes down… You will have your day too if you stick around long enough…

      Enjoy the ride and welcome aboard..

  • NUBobby95

    Why is everyone arguing what percentage of the crowd was from NU or UM? It’s embarrassing when you can’t find 40K people who root for NU to make it to 4+ games/season.
    NU does not have a tradition of winning or the non-alumni base of fans that state schools or ND has. Also, the North Shore crowd that occupies the West Side of the stadium is awful, always has been. They don’t know how to create a hostile atmosphere for opposing teams because they have spent too long being out numbered. Also, I sit right above the player’s family section and there were a ton of UM fans in those seats and they are the least involved fans in the whole stadium.
    Invest some of the Marketing $’s into bringing alums back to Ryan Field and reward your season ticket holders with more that just a ticket to the game. (free ticket to a home game, maybe some Cat cash to spend at games, something that shows that they give a shit about the people buying tickets and parking passes, going to games, and supporting this team). Instead I get more requests to donate more money.

    • DT

      Guilty as charged about the attendance stuff, yet I agree with much of what you are saying.. Great input…

  • DT

    Like I told you in January, 6-6… Destination, Detroit or Boise (at large…)…

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