The Great, The Good & More Great
UPDATE: TO VIEW GAME HIGHLIGHTS CLICK HERE. The password is “LOLHat2012″ . Thanks as always to our man, Northwestern Highlights for his great work.
Wow. What a day. Northwestern football opened the day by playing their worst half of defense all season and giving scare to the Wildcat fans, but Kain Colter and Venric Mark carried NU to a 27-14 lead. Then, Northwestern played its best quarter of the season, scoring 21 points and shutting down the Illini en route to a 50-14 laugher that enabled the ‘Cats to end the regular season 9-3 and secure a New Year’s Day bowl game. And, we never punted. How about that?
The ‘Cats were so out of character on defense in the first half you could read it on Fitz’s face as he was like one of us saying “what the heck is going on?”. The flow of the game just felt weird. It had that anything-can-happen kind of feel to it and dare I say we didn’t seem like we wanted to be out there? At one point on a kickoff return after the Illini had cut it to 17-14, one Wildcat player (who I won’t name) turned around to Tony Jones at the six yard line and signaled him to take a knee. At that moment you thought “uh-oh”. Thankfully Kain and Venric started putting on their clinic right about then. The gameplan was reminiscent of Walk’s 2003 second half when he ran every single down but one. We went with 19 straight run plays and the Illini couldn’t stop the two-headed monster that was just so outstanding today. As for the second half, well, wouldn’t you love to see a tape of what Fitz said and did at halftime? Holy smokes.
For those of you looking to double down on a wild day, you had the South Padre Island Invitational where Northwestern overcame a sloppy first half to win a streetfight against an incredible man-to-man D from Illinois State and one of the most incredible shooting performances you’ll ever see by an opponent as guy named Tyler Brown was draining 26 an 28 foot threes to keep the game alive, but the ‘Cats FT shooting won the day. We’ll be mixing The Great, The Good & More Great between football AND hoops as we offer up this double-dip of goodness.
There was really only one “Disappointing” element of the ‘Cats senior day slaughter and we’ll get it out of the way right now. The first half tackling was atrocious. I counted double-digit missed tackles as guys seemed to have their arms lathered in grease. Reilly O’Toole’s rushing TD highlighted a “what is going on?” sentiment from fans and coaches. Fitz addressed this at the half calling it the worst half of the season. Thankfully, corrections were made and NU came out on fire in the third. Let’s get on to the good stuff.
THE GREAT (Football)
Kain Colter - Game ball, my friend. Our relentless QB was simply dominating the Illini, seemingly toying with them at times.The junior QB rushed for 88 yards and went 9/11 for 102 yards and a career best three passing TDs. He accounted for 4 total TDs and the rushing stats – 88 yds on 14 carries – don’t do justice to how clutch he was, especially picking up first downs with his feet and making first downs on third down passing situations by tucking and running. Add his orchestration of a rushing game that saw Venric Mark dominate with 127 yards along with several option pitches and all in all you just sit there and say “what will 2013 be like?”
Venric Mark - For a guy who was dinged up enough we really didn’t know if he was going to play, it looked like someone shot Venric out of a cannon. The usually energetic #5 was in overhype mode and put on a show tallying 127 yards on 18 carries (7.1 ypc) and added a score. He was simply brilliant and carried the load when we needed it in the second quarter and then again on a punishing third quarter opening drive that essentially sealed the game. Had Mark played 4 quarters today, he would’ve been well north of 200 yards. He posted yet another 100+ yard game, his 8th of the season. Consider the fact he’ll enter the bowl game with the 7th best single season rushing mark of 1,310 yards and the second best all-purpose yardage season with 2,048 yards and you just say “wow”. How fun is he to watch? I’m calling it now, Venric should be on everyone’s preseason Heisman list for 2013.
The Offensive Line – With the exception of a drive killing clipping penalty on Brian Mulroe, this may have been a perfect game for the O-line (oh yeah, the one sack was a blemish as well). The stat line of the day is 67 rushing attempts for 338 yards, which is just silly. The line play of the starters was magnificent and continues to be one of the surprising storylines of the season. Even when Mulroe, Ward, Konopka, Dieters and company were long done for the day, the second and even third string guys pummelled the Illini starters. The 11- minute 4th quarter drive, where everyone in the world knew it was a run, yet we’d still get 5 yards per carry was unreal. It seemed only fitting that a former lineman, Paul Jorgensen, would get a TD catch as part of day when everything went right.
Fitz’s Bench Mob – A lot of coaches would continue to run it up against a rival, especially one that has been sqwauking so much. Fitz pulled every starter in the third quarter, went run every single down except for a passing third down to prolong a drive, and dished out playing time to every one. The highlight of course was the team character, Bo Cisek, getting two carries within the five yard line that turned out to be disasters, but it was all in fun. Tyris Jones was fantastic and even Doug Diedrick got double-digit yardage. Add in the fact Max Chapman registered a safety to get us to 5-0 and it was just fun to see so many guys who worked so hard get so many minutes.
Beckman’s Interference – I’m sorry, but how hilarious was Tim Beckman’s bench penalty where he got plowed over by the official on David Nwabuisi’s interception? It symbolized the football follies the Illini displayed registering eight penalties for 88 yards in the FIRST half. Several personal fouls and some calls I didn’t know even existed just showed how far this program has fallen. At one point, the men in stripes were pulling out a scorecard to call out the Illini for an illegal numbering penalty, on the 2-point conversion on their opening score.
Chi Chi Ariguzo – With Damien Proby out early with an injury, Chi Chi stepped up and seemed to be playing swarming D for the pair of them. He was everywhere and tallied 11 total tackles on the day including a sack.
Third Quarter - I challenge you to find a more dominating quarter of play in the Fitz era. The ‘Cats gave up a mere 43 yards of total offense, scored 21 points, racked up 150 yards of offense and had a pair of interceptions.
2nd Half D – The ‘Cats gave up 37 yards of total offense in the second half had two interceptions and a safety. Plus, the 11 minute 4th quarter drive was one of the most impressive drives I’ve ever seen considering a)the personnel b)the fact that everyone knew it was a run everytime and c)the Illini still had a bunch of starters in the game.
THE GREAT (HOOPS EDITION)
Sobo’s 2nd Half – If you didn’t see this game then you missed possibly the most tenacious D we’ll see all year. I mean Illinois State’s first half smothering full court man-to-man was intense. We could barely get a shot off and the ‘Cats had 11 turnovers in the first half alone. Sobo couldn’t get within 25 feet of the basket to even get the offense going. Yet, he persevered and in the second half hit three huge jump shots when it was a 1-point game including two threes. He played fantastic point guard and ball control getting the ‘Cats offense going and did a ton of little things on D. Oh yeah, he only played 43 minutes in the most physically draining game you could imagine.
Swopshire/Hearn’s Senior Leadership – Jared Swopshire is as cool as they come under pressure. His first half play kept us in it and then down the stretch, both he and Reggie stepped up in so many ways. Swopshire would have a huge put back on a miss, Hearn hit a huge three then stripped it and scored a lay-up and then Jared was just unreal hitting pressure FT after pressure FT (he went 8-8). It was an ugly game all around for NU, but these two stepped up.
THE GOOD (Football)
Jeff Budzien – This guy is a lock for the Lou Groza award. He went perfect on the year on PATs and again went perfect on a pair of FGs – 36 yarder and a 44 yarder. You can’t say enough about the most improved kicker in the country, who is now the best kicker in the country.
Tyris Jones – The former walk-on had a senior day to remember putting up 50 hard earned yards on the ground and scoring on a TD reception. It was fun to watch.
Christian Jones – He had another huge fourth down (4th and 6) catch and one that he tipped up in the air to himself that almost resulted in a TD. He deserved it since he was about to catch one from Kain Colter, when fellow Jones, Tony leapt in front of him almost intercepting the TD. Jones’ catch setup a Trumpy TD to put the game away 48-14 late in the third.
Tim Riley – I’m continually impressed with the senior who is becoming just outstanding on third down situations. He rushed for 23 yards on 3 carries and his play has me thinking “why have we waited this long?”
Spreading The Wealth - Eight different players scored – six different guys scored TDs, Budzien scored with his foot and Max Chapman scored with his D. Fitz deployed eight different rushers and eight different guys caught passes. That feat may never be duplicated.
5-0 Karma – Max Chapman’s sack got us to 50 points, a symbolic number in NU these days. The win was Fitz’s 49th, tying him for the alltime mark with Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf. Should we win our bowl game, it will be Fitz’s 50th career win and give him sole possession of with the most alltime wins. It seems predestined, no?
Acting Like We’ve Been There – I was glad to see no bush league retaliations to the Illini’s sophmoric antics last year via the PA system or the scoreboard. I like when we act like we’ve been there before.
THE GOOD (BASKETBALL EDITION)
Drew Crawford – It might have been the quietest 20 points of his career. Drew sank a few clutch threes, but this night was one I’ll remember for the half dozen or so bunnies he missed as it seemed like the rim had a lid on it for him. He didn’t get frustrated and played big on the boards, pulling down nine rebounds.
Mike Turner – Alex Olah was simply too slow-footed to play against the up-tempo ISU Redbird big men. Carmody went with Turner early and he played a solid game defensively and did a ton of little things while crashing the boards. He played 36 minutes and did a masterful job on their stud, Carmichael, most of the night, while hauling in 10 rebounds and many of them were in crunch time.
The ‘Cats finally gave us a game that we could relax in as fans. We not only finished the Illini in the second half, we demolished them. It seemed like the perfect way to end a regular season that was so close to being that impossible dream season. We started this journey hoping we’d be 7-5 at best (at least I did). Now, with nearly every team between #18 and #25 losing, we’ll likely finish the season as a top 20-ish team. We’re set up for huge expectations in 2013, but we all know it is now time to take care of business and get to the next level as a program by WINNING our bowl game. Once again, we’ll be playing a very tough opponent, likely a good SEC team in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year’s Day. Fitz had a great quote about playing an SEC team on their home turf and being “underdogs by 75 or so” like we usually are. We’ll spend much of this week looking at potential match-ups that would favor NU as I’ve already been claiming South Carolina as the team I’d want to face of the potential lot. It’s not going to be easy to get to win number ten, but we’re going to have a ton of fun over the next month firing up the fan base for a potential unforgettable New Year’s Day.
Also, the hoops team moves to 6-0 and returns home to face Maryland on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC challenge in what will likely draw a ton of national interest as the Big Ten team to be comes to Evanston. I’m fairly confident that Illinois State team will make it to the NCAA Tournament this year as I was really impressed by our ability to muscle out a win against a team that was incredibly coached. The ‘Cats shot just 34% and had 17 turnovers, yet won. You’ve got to hand it to Bill Carmody, he’s become much like Fitz in November – nearly automatic. NU won its third straight preseason tournament and this game was the toughest one yet. Overall, a great day for Northwestern. We’ll paste both the football stats and basketball box score below.
|NET YARDS RUSHING||126||338|
|Average Per Rush||4.7||5.0|
|Yards Gained Rushing||139||359|
|Yards Lost Rushing||13||21|
|NET YARDS PASSING||116||112|
|Average Per Attempt||6.4||7.0|
|Average Per Completion||9.7||10.2|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||242||450|
|Total offense plays||45||83|
|Average Gain Per Play||5.4||5.4|
|Average Yards Per Punt||42.3||0.0|
|Net Yards Per Punt||42.3||0.0|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||61.2||56.9|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||28.2||40.0|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Average Per Return||0.0||0.0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||9-152-0||4-132-0|
|Average Per Return||16.9||33.0|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||6 of 9||7 of 13|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 0||4 of 4|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||1-4||2-3|
Individual Statistics (Final) 2012 Northwestern Football Illinois vs Northwestern (Nov 24, 2012 at Evanston, Ill.)
Northwestern Basketball Box Score 72-69 OT win vs Illinois State (South Padre Invitational Championship)
|Jared Swopshire, F||40||3-7||1-3||8-8||4||10||2||1||0||0||0||15|
|Drew Crawford, G-F||41||6-20||3-8||5-6||4||9||1||3||0||1||3||20|
|Reggie Hearn, G||35||4-9||2-5||2-3||1||6||1||2||0||4||2||12|
|Dave Sobolewski, G||43||4-8||2-3||6-8||0||0||1||2||0||4||3||16|
|Alex Marcotullio, G||5||1-1||1-1||0-0||0||1||0||1||0||1||2||3|
|Mike Turner, F||36||1-5||0-1||0-0||3||10||4||1||0||4||3||2|
|Tre Demps, G||13||1-6||0-2||2-2||1||1||0||1||0||2||1||4|