Colterific! Kain Colter Headlines The Great, The Good & The Disappointing In NU’s 44-29 Win; PLUS Highlights!


There we were up 27-0 early in the third quarter, on one of the nicest college football days you could ever have in late September and my mine started wandering. I had that same feeling about the defense that I did in 1995.  Fans in our section were debating the reality of a shutout. I was trying to squash the negativity in my head that was screaming “go for the kill” and “don’t step off the gas” along with an assortment of sports cliches. But, Northwestern is so nice. They wanted to entertain the 33,000 plus and make sure no one left early or went home bored. So, within a blink of an eye Indiana had ripped off three TDs on three touches, including a 96-yard KOR for a TD and you had the feeling that crazy things were happening. The 2009 Indiana comeback (NU rallied down 28-3 to beat IU 29-28) started getting mentioned among the fans. Nate Sudfield entered the game and put on a passing clinic.  And all of a sudden we were up by one possession after a reverse 2-point conversion cut our lead to 37-29. Gulp.

By now you know we won this game, so I don’t need to relive the anxiety too much. However, the “D” which had disappeared in the third got called upon after Trevor Siemian threw an interception in the 4th quarter. The fans actually rallied and made noise, sensing the severity of the situation. The defense delivered and held, which then led to the dagger drive by Kain Colter and the ‘Cats.  Colter ran an option play for 17 yards. Venric followed suit with an 8-yard push the pile run. Then, Colter dazzled his way around a host of Hoosiers for a game-winning TD, but wait, flag. Holding on Kyle Prater. Uh-oh. Those crazy things are happening again, I thought. Have no fear, Colter was determined. Kain picked up the first down with a 4-yard gain. Then, it was a dose of Trumpy, Mark, Trumpy to move the chains. It’s 2nd and 10 at Indiana’s 22 with just over 5 minutes remaining. Colter fakes a handoff, darts between a pair of defenders and -boom – there he goes for his FOURTH TD of the over and fans were high fiving with their jaws dropped. The guy was simply unstoppable and led us to a 5-0 start for Fitz’s third time in five seasons. NU will be ranked today thanks to several Top 25 losses, but more importantly we are 1-0 in the Big Ten and are trying to do something we haven’t done since 1962, the last time we were ranked #1 in the country, and that is, start 6-0. On with the breakdown.


Kain Colter – Who did you think we’d start with?  Kain was electrifying and he threw a mere 3 passes, including a pick.  The platooning QB put up 161 rushing yards on 14 carries (11.5 ypc) with 4 TDs. He hauled in a game-high 9 receptions for a game-high 131 yards including an amazing clutch diving grab for a key third down conversion. Colter had 292 all-purpose yards, but it felt like 500.  His ability to run for 15-yards on the option and then line-up at WR and haul in a pass on consecutive plays was just unreal. Fans were on the edge of their seats saying “where’s Kain now?”.  He was a lock for national player of the week, until I heard about West Virginia’s Geno Smith who threw for over 600 yards and had more TD passes (8) than incompletions in a 70-63 win over Baylor.  Congrats Kain, you are the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week without a doubt to me.

Pat Fitzgerald/Mick McCall Gameplan – Bravo. Even if we hadn’t put up a school record 704 yards of total offense, they’d be getting the “Great” label on this day. Clearly Fitz & offensive coordinator Mick McCall had been holding THIS approach to the QB position close to the vest – and it worked. Until now, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian would platoon series, but in the B1G home opener, platooned the QB position by rotating at an alarming rate within each series. The maxim of “keep Colter on the field at all times” was in full effect and it worked brilliantly. Trevor and Kain were clicking as batterymates as Kain had  a ton of pop in his wide receiver routes. This was the kind of offense we had all hoped for, and we all know about the couple of mistakes that should’ve made this a 50+ point outburst. Great job gentlemen.

Jeff Budzien  – The lockdown Lou Groza Award winner if the season ended today added another hattrick of FGs to his resume. Budzien drilled kicks of 44 yds, 34 yds, and 29 yds to improve to 11-11 on the season as well as keep his perfect career PAT streak alive.

Damien Proby – The ‘Cats LB had a stellar day with a team-leading 14 tackles and a few bell-ringing hits. Proby was swarming, along with Chi Chi, and the LB unit was a key reason NU put up a shutout for two and a half quarters, before things went off the rails.

Nate Sudfield and IU receivers – It’s rare that we include opponents in this, but you have to tip your hat to IU 3rd string QB Nate Sudfield who was so clearly better than Cam Coffman on this day. Sudfield changed the game and put up 157 of the 266 yards primarily on a handful of deep bombs.  The Hoosiers had four different deep ball amazing catches that were extremely well defended by the ‘Cats. Cody Latimer’s circus catch reaching over Quinn Evans was just one of those four and when you see plays like that you sometimes have to just tip the cap and say “great play”.  This IU offense is going to get Kevin Wilson a couple of B1G wins this season.

The OL – They dominated the Hoosiers opening up gaping holes for the cadre of ‘Cats RBs and protected Trevor Siemian very well in the pocket. This group is improving significantly from week to week and they were the unsung heroes of the day.


Trevor Siemian – We got what we wanted. Prolonged stretches of Trevor Siemian getting to throw downfield.  Siemian threw for an impressive 22/32, 308 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT with several impressive deep balls to the likes of Tony Jones and Christian Jones, both of whom hauled in bombs from Trevor on beautifully thrown strikes at coincidentally the almost exact same spot on the field (20-ish yard line on northwest side of field).  Trevor and Kain were a money combination all day.  The only downside was that Trevor forced 2-3 balls that he shouldn’t have and nearly had 2-3 INTs.  On the flipside, his scramble on third down to find Demetrius Fields, who dropped a gimme TD, kept him off the TD board for the day and was not his fault. If there is a category for “very good”, this is where Trevor would fit for his performance.

The NU RBs – Venric Mark/Mike Trumpy – Northwestern posted 394 rushing yards. Think about that for a second. That’s insane. As a team we had 58 carries for 394 yards, a whopping 6.8 ypc.  Those are high school juggernaut numbers. Video game numbers. Overshadowed by Kain’s eye-popping performance was oh, just a 139-yard day on 29 carries for Venric Mark (4.8 ypc). Mark scored the only non-Kain TD of the day and had several where he was tripped up by the last guy separating him from paydirt. He was fantastic and proved he could carry the bulk of the load and grind out big plays along with his laser beam moves through large holes.  However, Mark fumbled in a key situation after trying to turn a great run in to a SportsCenter highlight as he tried to drag an 8-man Hoosier pile and they stripped him.  Mark also struggled a bit in his judgment on punt returns and he botched a kickoff return that he fumbled out of bounds.

The Joneses – Christian Jones was his usual steady self on the deep ball including one amazing catch down the sideline. Christian left the game with an injury, but Fitz wouldn’t give much of a report on Christian or Ibraheim, saying that both had positive responses about their injury. Tony Jones also hauled in a head-turner on one of his two nice catches on the day.

Meanwhile, Mike Trumpy had another stellar 4th quarter and put up 89 yards on just 14 carries (6.2 ypc), with most of the damage coming in crunch time in the second half.  Trumpy is going to be a key part of how far this team goes as he can bulldoze with the best of them.

Third Down Defense – Despite the Hoosiers second half onslaught, Northwestern was stout on third down all day long. NU held Indiana to just 5-of-15 on third down conversions (3-5 in 2nd half), while Northwestern upped its 13th ranked average (53%) by going 10-of-17.

Deonte Gibson – I haven’t seem one guy get held more in the same game in quite some time. He actually got one flag as he was about to sack Coffman and he got blatantly pulled down from behind. He was the only ‘Cat consistently closing in on the IU QBs as Northwestern’s pass rush continues to fail when it comes to registering pressure.


Kickoff Coverage – We were brutal. It’s too easy to point to a fumbled return that goes for 96-yards like Indiana did, but that was just the exclamation point on a day when IU’s return team manhandled us. The Hoosiers returned 6 kickoffs for 219 yards, regularly spotting their starting position between the 30 and 40 yard line. Lots to clean-up here.

Ibraheim Campbell – The ‘Cats star safety delivered a crushing hit early in the second quarter that at first appeared to spring a fumble, but was ruled an incompletion. He appeared to be pointing to the base of his neck when he was being attended to, but no word on the injury and severity of it at this point. Campbell did not return and the combination of Hunter Bates, Jared Carpenter and Traveon Henry rotated in in his place.

Jugular Gene – Obviously up 27-0 Northwestern played poorly in stretches and Indiana played well to mount an all-to-scary comeback. The ‘Cats seemed on the verge of crushing Indiana’s soul when Stephen Houston and Sudfield stoked the fire. The ‘Cats had some trouble on their defensive contain and Kevin Wilson and crew exploited it with a few reverse fields.  Good teams win this game when they face adversity. Great teams put teams like this away.

Kyle Prater’s Hold – It turned out not to matter as we scored on this drive anyway, but Prater’s hold was unnecessary as Kain Colter had blitzed five yards past him when Kyle made it way too easy for the refs to throw the laundry.  Overall, the ‘Cats played a very clean game with very few penalties. This one could’ve really hurt.

Game Stats To Stew On

  • NU had 704 yards of total offense,  a school record – 394 rushing, 310 passing
  • Leading receivers – Colter 9 rec/131 yds, C. Jones 4 rec/68 yds, Lawrence 4 rec/52 yds, T Jones 2 rec/42 yds
  • Leading rushers – Colter 14 car/161 yds, 4 TD, Mark 29 car/131 yds 1 TD, Trumpy 14 car/89 yds
  • First downs – NU 36, IU 16
  • NU – 3 Turnovers!
  • Redzone – 7/7 – 4 TDs, 3 FGs
  • TOP – NU 36:14, IU 23:46
  • IU total offense – 425 yds – 266 passing, 159 rushing
  • Pittsburgh Wildcat

    Kain Colter is one of ESPN’s “Player of the Week” nominees along with the QB from Texas A&M, RB from Georgia and WR from West Virginia. Vote for Kain!

  • timc

    I would just add one more thing to the disappointing. Attendance. It makes me crazy and jealous when I watch bits of all the other games with their packed houses, and we can’t come even close to filling the smallest stadium in the B1G. Don’t know what the answer is but it just sucks. Anyway, most entertaining game of the year.

    • Look at it in relative terms, though. This was our biggest crowd of the year and was 9,000 higher than the last time Indiana made the trip to Evanston.

      • CatInTheHat

        Wow. Looked like a much smaller crowd than the BC game, but like I said perspective makes it difficult to tell. Good to hear the numbers are better than it looked.

        • VaWildcat

          33K isn’t great, but it could be/has been worse. The next home game is Nebraska. No attendance problem for that game.

      • cece

        this crowd was not much bigger than the Vandy or the BC game, and the attendance increase was probably because of the students. Student attendance was fantastic! inspiring. but that attendance is pursued through a whole other strategy than “Chicago’s Big Ten Team.” undergrad numbers are limited, but the entire NU community is a good well to be tapped.

    • CatInTheHat

      Agreed. I usually sit on the west side and have difficulty seeing/judging attendance, but I was on the east side yesterday and was appalled by how empty Ryan Field looked. The students are really showing up, which is wonderful. Otherwise, it was reasonably full between the 20s and sparse otherwise. I was with an Indiana fan friend who said that the atmosphere down in Bloomington–freaking Indiana!–is much better for football.

    • NULabMonkey

      As an alumnus who had trouble waking up in time for the occassional game myself (although Ftiz’s donuts made it a hell of a lot easier), during these 11am starts, my first reaction is to turn to the student section…but give credit to our undergrads, they showed up in force! Maybe if we remain perfect after our next two games, we’ll see more purple than red during homecoming…dare to dream!

  • Next Cat

    On the highlights at about 11:22 — check out the block by Prater on a run by Trumpy. Drives his man 12 yards down field. I love seeing that from big Kyle. Zero receptions (on zero chances?) but still contributing.

    • Same for many of our WRs. How ’bout Demetrius’ block on the final TD of the day by Colter – it is brilliant.

  • JimB

    I WANT THE STADIUM FULL OF PURPLE but, lets remember this, Dyche Stadium holds 47,130 if I recall but the undergrad enrollment is well less than a 1/4 of that. Michigan & OSU and others have huge sellout crowds but look at their undergrad enrollment relative to their stadium size. Their enrollments are about half of their stadium capacity with little else to do in the area they are in. NU alum base is much smaller and generally more geographically diverse. If we are ever going to watch a game on Ryan field in a sea of purple NU needs to have success attracting NON alums in the Chicago area. Lots of competition for the sports entertainment dollar in the Chicagoland area. Winning games on television helps as does being ranked for an extended period of time.
    You have to make a town that has been Pro focused for decades do more than notice you are having a good year. Fitz’s long term success on the field is beginning to do that. National Rankings and a bowl WIN along with the continued area marketing of the team will be a big step in that direction, in my opinion.

    • cece

      enough with the just undergrad students and alums talk. NU is a bigger community than that. all the students, faculty, and staff of all of the pieces of the NU puzzle in the Chicago area are to be considered. why do you think they have Northwestern Memorial Hospital day and NMH sponsoring? it’s right on the board behind Fitz at the pressers. if you know someone who works for any piece of NU, ask them to come to a football game.

      • Purple V

        If they want to attract fans from Chicago, the university really needs to do more to make it easier to attend games. How about setting up a ticket office and sports shop on the downtown campus? And how about running the intercampus shuttle on game days and allowing anyone with a ticket to the game to ride it?

        • NUMBSpiritLeader

          +1 Smart idea.

        • CrankyCat

          the shuttle would be especially useful this year. the Red Line is under construction and is an absolute nightmare for getting up to the game. it’s bad enough that I skipped the BC game because I couldn’t get a lift and didn’t want to deal with the delay. wonder if bars would want to sponsor buses to the game as they do with Chicago fire games?

          • byebyefitz95

            I thought Kendalls was going to this but I guess I heard wrong. I am thinking of seeing if Kirkwoods has a bus for the Nebraska game…I wouldn’t mind sitting in the bus with cornhuskers…I was in Lincoln last year and they seem to be nice people haha.

          • NU Alumnus

            Pssssh our old grouchy fans are going to help turn people away. I keep getting yelled at for standing up and cheering during 3rd downs because I’m being “disrespectful.” It is so frustrating.

          • Lsocmid

            @b8cf30b60da63586370e58e41f4c4e91:disqus Yea, I’m not really sure how to feel about this. Those fans went through so many of the bad years and have supported Northwestern for so long. But at the same time…its football and and I know that I’ve had a couple of really frustrating experiences with the same…that we needed to politely sit quietly as if we were watching tennis. Next year, I run out of eligibility for young alumni tickets and I don’t know where I can even sit and still be a rowdy fan?

          • We’ll happily have you in sec 131!

          • kinsella316

            We’re in section 131 and have actually started convincing some of the older fans to get up with us on 3rd down… pretty cool. I think the real attendance problem stems from the lack of NU Qatar alums showing up for the game. Are we not also Qatar’s Big Ten Team? Talk to Polisky, let’s see what we can do.

        • byebyefitz95

          I agree totally. Why can’t the CTA run the purple line into the city on game days as well. It sucks taking the red line (from Lincoln Park where I live) to Evanston on a game day. So many stops and then having to transfer to the purple line. At least they can run it three hours before and an hour after game time. It can’t be that hard.

          • Ron

            Because Evanston, or NU, or someone, would have to pay for it.

        • cece

          great ideas! they keep referring to three campuses, well, two of them are within an L ride to the stadium and the one with the medical school has LOTS of students and employees. they should be at games!

    • NULabMonkey

      University of Michigan
      100*(Undergrad enrollment/Big House Capacity) = 100(27407/107501) = 25.5%

      100(42916/102329) = 42%

      100(8637/47130) = 18.3%

      Just for the sake of substantiating your claims, those are the numbers according to Wikipedia/The Princeton Review

    • GTom

      I always felt we should make a deal with DePaul, Loyola, UIC, and anyone else who doesn’t field a team on Saturdays and give them their own student section (next to NU’s, of course) and same access to young Alumni tickets. If tickets are free to students today, give them free tickets. Give their organizations someplace to gather / tailgate. Hook them young. Make them feel like it’s their team as well. Not only would it do wonders for improving football attendance, but I think it would help build roots with the Chicago community at large.

  • Doug

    I think we could add Fields’ 2 drops and 0 catches to the dissapointing, as well as the predictability of our offense running every time Colter was in after the 1st quarter…

    • didnt matter because they couldnt stop us. i think going forward colter should throw a bit more, but on the day it was fine

    • NULabMonkey

      Demetrius’s drops were definitely disappointing (especially the one in the endzone), and unlike the BTN announcers, I don’t think they can be explained solely by the fact that he hadn’t established a “rhythm” yet. That being said, To put Fields on the “disappointing” list solely for his drops would be neglecting the fact that he made contributions with his solid downfield blocks (and no holds! Hooray!!). Considering that he was only passed to twice, I’d go ahead and chalk Fields’s performance in the non-existant “not enough data” column.

      As for our play selection when Colter was taking the snaps, was the Colter run predictable? Absolutely. Was the Colter run effective? Absolutely. Indiana’s defense saw Colter coming more often than not, but they couldn’t stop him (partially thanks to an insanely good option look which destroyed the BTN cameramen more than once). I don’t see why you’d stop doing what works for the sake of “surprise”; I’d rather have them on their heels than on their toes.

  • watching on tv, i thought vanhoose and evans were disappointing. did the IU receivers make excellent catches? yes. but evans and vanhoose, who were constantly in position, made it easier for them by trying to intercept the ball on several occasions where they should just get their arms out and knock it down

    • NULabMonkey

      I actually agree here. Vanhoose especially was guilty of keeping his arms out rather than up, even without safety support over the top (AHHH!!!!)

      However, based on the frequency with which it happened, I’d say it was a coaching strategy rather than Evans and Vanhoose just trying to make big plays. It’s definitely a strategy that I think will be critically evaluated this week as our secondary prepares for McGloin and Penn State.

    • There were some incredible catches where the IU receivers just leaped over VanHoose and Evans. @disqus_54pw79I49J:disqus is probably right that there are some more strategic things they can do to prevent those, but some of them were just spectacular catches. The important thing (compared to last year) was that they were in position to make plays and not blowing coverage. The VanHoose interception was a perfect play of communication between VanHoose and Campbell. VanHoose passed the receiver off perfectly to Campbell behind him and read the QB to get the pick.

      • Tom Maycock

        Those were great catches, but probably only possible because VanHoose was waiting for the ball to drop into his arms rather than knock them down. As frustrating as it was, I think the key thing to note is that Nick did most of the hard parts (playing the coverage correctly, having the speed, athleticism, and intelligence to be in the right position, etc.) really well. He just made judgement errors in trying to catch the ball rather prevent the other guy from catching it. That part is pretty easy to fix, and he will probably get many chances to practice doing just that this week.

    • I think this is a good point. The guys went for INTs instead of using their hands and arms as clubs to bat the ball away. This is a post topic in and of itself.

    • Richard

      The risk/reward is such that if my DB is in position to make an INT, I’d almost always have him go for the INT rather than bat the ball down (only doesn’t make sense in a last-play hail-Mary). Your complaint brings to mind the USC-Texas title game, where a USC DB was in perfect position to intercept a Vince Young airball, but he batted it down instead. While he celebrated, a couple of plays later, Vince Young got Texas a TD and the national title.

  • 22nd in the coaches poll, 24th in the AP. Yay!

  • Omar

    #22 in the Coaches, #24 in the AP…holla!

  • skepticat

    The “no lead is safe” syndrome is getting pretty old. I didn’t realize IU switched QBs, and there we some pretty amazing catches despite the coverage being there, but still….

    Nice to be ranked, but a week early, IMO. Take care of PSU next weekend, we’re look at 9 wins or more. Don’t, and it’s more like 7.

    • Jim

      Being ranked before the PSU game is the kiss of death. Whenever the expectations rise among the NU faithful, the destiny of the season changes. Maybe it’s karma ? There such significant challenges that will be so different for this team as it enters the B1G part of the season, that the ranking at this juncture is at best, a distraction from reality for the unsophisticated fan. As they say, enjoy it while you can…and flush it !!

      • AK

        forget that…be ranked, lets enjoy this. I hope the players embrace the ranking rather than shrink from it, like we have done in previous years.

  • WestCoastBuffaloJoe

    For all the discussion on here of Fitzgerald’s mistakes/limitations as a coach, we should all respect and appreciate that Fitz/McCall found a way to use the two QBs that is effective and dynamic and seemed to get everyone into a good rhythym/flow. AND, we look like a different (dominant?) offense with the wrinkle they added with Colter going to a system of read handoffs, rather than a straight option, that plays perfectly into the strengths of our O-line, Venric Mark and Colter’s running ability. Wow…
    As for the Defense–Indiana looked like they were a couple of missed executions away from putting up 10 or 14 points in the first half. But we held them. By contrast, we were close to getting off the field multiple times in the second half but got burned by incredible catches. The secondary had good coverage, but couldn’t make a play despite being in good position and got beat by receivers who did make plays despite good coverage.
    Penn State is exactly the test we need, exactly when we need it.

  • calling all toasters

    Our starting QB completes more passes to the other team than to teammates and is our player of the game anyway. It’s like we’re back in the 80s!

    • VaWildcat

      Colter had one completion and one interception. Even in the 80s that wasn’t “more passes to the other team than to teammates.”

    • David

      Also…we won approximately 5 games in the 80s….so this is a little different.

  • rhett

    That was a pretty convincing win! First home game since 2009 for me. Forgot how much more fun game day is in person.

    Favorite play: Trumpy’s big scamper late in the second quarter, around 4:52 on the highlights. 2nd and 12, an obvious passing down. They’d been lining Trumpy up in the slot frequently in the first half, with 4 wideouts and an empty backfield, and quite a few times Siemian would call Trumpy in to block when he sensed heat coming from the outside, but that didn’t stop the Hoosiers from turning their CBs loose over and over again. So this time, they had Trumpy motion into the backfield… for a draw play. And indeed it was a corner blitz off Siemian’s blind side. And Trumpy took the handoff and stood still for a second, as if he was blocking, and Siemian pumped toward the right flat, and I bet on the reverse angle you could see the IU corner’s eyes light up (“Whoa, nobody sees me coming! Free shot! Oh boy!”) and then his heart break. Result: wide-open 24-yard run. Always nice to see your team blatantly outfox the bad guys.