The Great, Good & Disappointing

Exhausted? I sure am. You know the trite postgame questions. “If I had told you before the game that we’d give up 99 plays, 455 passing yards, have no Kain Colter, very little Venric Mark and lose Daniel Jones you would have guaranteed me a loss” Truly, it was a crazy 44-30 Wildcat victory. It also was a gutsy win by the #22 ‘Cats who were carrying the weight of newfound external expectations and suffered wave after wave of adversity.

The ESPN telecast, in my opinion, was very poor. The two big storylines were injuries and, well, “injuries”. Kain Colter went down on the second play with what sure looked like a concussion (the wobbles usually give it away) and never came back, looking glossy-eyed with a steely stare the rest of the game. Venric Mark, who took a lick on the very first play of the game, saw extremely limited action, and came back at the end of the half for a series, yet ESPN did not comment or inform us at all about the All-American.  The Sun-Times’ Seth Gruen reported freshman DB Matt Harris was injured on the opening ‘Cats kickoff and did not return because of an upper body injury. No word from the Worldwide Leader on that one either.

Meanwhile, as Wildcats dropped like flies in the second half, Sonny Dykes and Cal fans were irate, implying that the ‘Cats were feigning injuries to disrupt the Bear Raid offense. Another miss by ESPN’s crew as they never followed up on the fact our best defender, Damien Proby, who went off the field, didn’t come back.  Where was the follow-up on the guys leaving and coming back in to support or refute the obvious hot-button story down the stretch?

My hat goes off to Jared Goff, who shredded NU for 455 passing yards (38/63) and looked razor sharp with each passing play. Two of his three picks were not his fault, and the pair of pick sixes (the key plays we’ll remember from this game) were lucky bounces that resulted in Collin Ellis’ game of his life. But, give credit to Northwestern. On the second play of the game, they took more than half of their playbook and threw it out the window when the elusive Kain Colter went out. A sold-out, pumped crowd and a clearly impressive athletic team were ready to have their big opening night party. Yet, Trevor and company took punch after punch and responded. There is in-game adversity and then there will be the Cal game. Bravo, fellas. Let’s get in to The Great, The Good & The Disappointing.

Update: Pat Fitzgerald took exception to Sonny Dykes’ accusations that NU was feigning injuries. You can read about it here in th Chicago Sun-Times. This storyline will go from simmer to heat between now and next year’s home opener vs Cal.

Before we do… a boxscore:

This boxscore resembles a 2005-type game, no?
This boxscore resembles a 2005-type game, no?


Team Composure – We mentioned it above, but there were so many reasons for NU to get off its game. Yet, we never lost our composure and despite a horrific third quarter, reversed the 2012 trend of losing late leads and stepped up to pull away when it mattered most. Think about all the major setbacks – Kain Colter, Venric Mark, Daniel Jones, Christian Jones. It was a M*A*S*H unit out there.

Trevyon Green – In the WGN postgame interviews, Trevor Siemian commented on just how amazing Treyvon was in fall camp.  Treyvon put up 129 yds on only 16 carries (8.1 ypc) and a pair of TDs, but those numbers don’t account for the clutch factor. Treyvon responded to the Cal gutsy fake FG that went for a TD with a 36-yard scamper that settled the frenzied Memorial Stadium. Of course, his 55-yard game buster late in the 4th (complete with the smart move of wrapping up the ball and staying in bounds) was really the backbreaker in the game. His extra effort on the 3rd and goal from the 6th, which sealed the win with a TD seemed to be a fitting end to his best game as a Wildcat.

The O-line – This line is used to the Kain Colter, run first, option attack. They adjusted quickly to the pocket passing of Trevor Siemian and in the first half in particular, gave him fantastic protection. Siemian kept his jersey clean all night long. NU also produced 209 yards rushing on an unexpected balanced attack.

Colin Ellis – Game ball. Sure, Collin got very lucky to be in the right place at the right time on his all-time NU record setting PAIR of pick six TDs. However, #45 was swarming all night long and had a stellar game in addition to the ESPN-worthy highlight package.

Jeff Budzien – Ho, hum. Just another perfect night as he went 3-for-3 on FGs (35,19,32) and continued his streak of never missing a PAT, going 5-for-5.


Trevor was solid, throwing darts in the first half.
Trevor was solid, throwing darts in the first half.

Trevor Siemian – When you consider the circumstances, you could argue Trevor was “great”. However, he threw a couple of late jump balls, including one that was picked, on a night that started very good and dipped in the middle of the game. Trevor went 18/29, 276 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs.  However, he was clutch in some key situations. Namely, 3rd and 3 inside our 10 with the game tied 27-27 midway through the 4th. He threw a seed to Christian Jones and then followed it up with a huge home run ball to Dan Vitale. Siemian’s TD pass to Tony Jones was a thing of beauty.

Tony Jones, Dan Vitale & Christian Jones – The ‘Cats WR corps played very well on Saturday night. Vitale finished with 5 rec, 101 yards, including that extra effort on a 55-yard bomb that nearly carried his defender in to the end zone. Tony Jones was just huge early, hauling in 5 rec for 70 yds, with that beauty of a TD in the first half. Christian Jones, who left for a bit due to injury, was clutch most of the night and racked up 94 rec yds on 5 catches.

Ibraheim Campbell’s INT – That was fun to watch. Cal had the ball at the 50 with 3:43 to go and the ‘Cats up 7 after picking off Trevor Siemian. The very next play Campbell played under and VanHoose played over the top on the Cal receiver and Campbell made a sensational grab which set-up the game-winning drive.

‘Cat Crowd at Cal – The corner of the nearly sold-out (58,000+) Memorial Stadium was decked out in purple. It was loud at times on big NU plays and looked great on the wide shot. Well done, ‘Cats fans! The ESPN commentators repeatedly calling it a “smattering” of purple was insulting. It was loud on TV and looked fantastic.

Locking Down Bigelow – Brendan Bigelow is going to have a beast of a year. The Cal starting RB exploded on the season opening drive and just gashed NU’s “D”. However, credit NU, as they held Bigelow to just 65 yards (16 carries) after he amassed half of that on the opening drive.


Kain Colter – The all-everything part of our offense – gone – on play number two. I just felt so bad for the senior. You hope he can come back soon as his lack of presence instantly changes the entire gameplan for our offense.

Venric Mark – Huh? What happened? Can someone please explain why he played so little? I can’t believe how little it was talked about by the ESPN team.

Conservative Pass Defense Playcalling – I get it. New true freshman QB and brand new offense with all kinds of wrinkles that we have no clue about. So, you feel it out and keep the plays in front of you for a half. Well, our four-man rush was relatively ineffective and our defenders were giving pretty big cushions at the line. When we did show once-in-a-blue-moon pressure, it seemed to rattle Jared Goff, but we did it too infrequently. We gave up 548 yards of offense. 99 plays. 455 yards of passing. I realize you can’t bring the heat every down, but Goff was way too comfortable back there.

Daniel Jones – When you see him writhing in pain (on a BS pass interference call, by the way) and the cart comes out you start thinking bye-bye season. Jones was much-hyped coming out of fall camp and it is terrible to see that happen. RS freshman, Dwight White, immediately got picked on by Goff and we’ll have to regroup and grow up quickly at that corner spot.

Pass Defense – Execution – Man, how many YACs did we give up in that one? Granted, the loss of Daniel Jones had obvious consequences, but our DBs were playing soft coverage much of the night and there is no way to sugarcoat the fact NU gave up 458 passing yards on 38/63.  Now we know what it was like to be Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Get ready for Syracuse, because here comes the pass heavy gameplan.

Officiating – Inconsistent at best. For the record, while I thought Cal’s DE should have been flagged for the helmet to helmet, I didn’t think it was targeting. I also thought the refs missed a blatant horse collar on Venric Mark that was a sure TD (and cost us 4 points) and the Daniel Jones injury play pass interference was a miss as well.

All in all, it was a wild one, but it counts as a “w” and you take it and run.  Northwestern wins its 9th straight season opener and 8 under Pat Fitzgerald. The ‘Cats went in to a hostile environment against an obviously very athletic team and won. Just like a #22 team should do. There are a lot of positives to take away from this one and a ton of things that need to be worked on for us to continue to win and then compete against Ohio State.

Let’s hear it from you. Share your observations.


Treyvon impressed with a 129-yd, 2 TD, clutch performance.
Treyvon impressed with a 129-yd, 2 TD, clutch performance.

Game Ball: Tied. Collin Ellis & Treyvon Green.

Can you imagine what this 2014 season opener in Evanston might be like? Geesh. Here’s to Fitz scheduling it at 11 am to get back at the timing factor.

Final individual stats, per

Final individual stats for NU vs Cal
Final individual stats for NU vs Cal


What They’re Saying…


  • Brad May

    LTP — IC’s interception came with the Cats leading by 7. And the ensuing drive was the nail in the coffin, pushing the lead to 14.

    • LTP

      Thanks for the correction. Eyes were blurry at 3 am writing this!

  • DanMan1976

    Gutsy win by the Cats as they had ever reason to fold in the third. The first Ellis pick six was the play of the game as it completely reversed momentum. Really excited by the depth at running back as Green was fantastic and Trumpy had a few decent moments. Congrats on going 1-0 for this week! Bring on the Cuse!

  • Hank the Tank

    Glad we escaped with a win. Very anxious to get updates on Colter/Mark/Jones. I’d love to get the audio from the Fitz-Dykes postgame handshake. Looks like some things other than pleasantries were exchanged.

  • AlanG69

    Disappointing- The classless booing by Cal fans, especially given their history…. *cough* Oregon *cough*

  • Al

    A few thoughts: The ESPN2 announcers were clearly and openly rooting for Cal. They also described our very sizable fan support as a “smattering of purple”.

    This game reminded me of the Nebraska game, only difference is we managed to hold on to the interceptions, and the lead. The talking head on ESPNs wrap-up show with Holtz and May said the targeting call that lead to the ejection was a “textbook” example of the rule. Yeah. And speaking of that, was that Cal player the biggest d-nozzle ever for taking a bow while walking off the field? Lastly, we need more pressure on the QB. No more 3 man rushes. If you can’t get pressure with 4, bring 5.

    • David

      Chris Fowler called the D end out for taking a bow….he was indignant about the action.

      • LTP

        The bow was classless. Or the salute, or whatever it was.

    • Elston Gunn

      Did the ESPN crew really not address the absence of Mark? (I was at the game and haven’t yet rewatched in on my DVR, but that’s what LTP indicated above.) If so, that’s terrible. I can sort of understand a coach’s decision not to run Venric so much, since I think he’s probably somewhat less effective as a complement to Trevor than to Cain. But no exploration by ESPN of why Venric also wasn’t returning punts? He’s an All-American punt returner! If ESPN didn’t address this, I’ll be very anxious to hear what Fitz himself has to say.

      • David

        They did not mention it….literally.

      • LTP

        They even showed visuals of him on the bike in the first half. I can’t remember the exact quote but they actually reference his lack of production. I was yelling at the TV “because he hasn’t been on the field – tell us why!!!”. The telecast got a C-

        • Elston Gunn

          nucats96 must be right in saying there was a hamstring issue. That’d explain the bike on the sideline — trying to loosen it up — as well as the limited action (and general ineffectiveness) on O, and total absence on special teams. In any case, the absence of investigation/commentary from ESPN is pretty pathetic—though unfortunately typical. (I do, however, generally like Mark Jones as a play-by-play guy.)

          • LTP

            I do to. Mark Jones is a “does his homework” kind of guy. It was out of character for him.

    • LTP

      The “smattering” comment annoyed the hell out of me. You could see the entire corner wrapped around with purple. And it was loud on TV.

      • Buffalo_Joe

        Other than the student sections, there was purple in every section and just about every other row.

      • Polymersci

        Before the game as we were walking into the stadium, I heard multiple Cal fans commenting on all the purple. It was a great turnout and when the players came over to sing the fight song after the victory, the purple throng went wild. Must have been a great moment for the players. Fitz was beaming! After the fight song, the team huddled up around Fitz, and then they turned around and sang the fight song again! You didn’t see that on ESPN. Priceless for all of us in the NU section. Go Cats.

  • ATL Cat

    Interesting to think that the offense run last night could be a foundation for next season. With Kain and Venric out, Trevor played all but those first few snaps. Treyvon could perhaps be our lead back next year, so it was good to see his effort. And all but 1 reception each for Jensen and Venric went to guys returning next year too. I guess the only way we continue a 2 QB system is if Alviti becomes our next Kain and runs options with Buckley or some of the other young RBs.

    • LTP

      Spoiler alert. 2014 ‘Cats post coming up this week. I’m very much thinking Alviti will be 1A as the Kain-like option, with Trevor getting the bulk of the snaps. But getting WAY ahead of ourselves.

    • Chasmo

      Green, like Trumpy, doesn’t have the speed a back needs to be a star in the Big 10. We saw Green’s lack of breakaway speed during his long fourth quarter run when he got caught from behind. Mark would have scored on that play.
      Did you see how Mark, when the hole up the middle wasn’t there, bounced outside and turned it into a big gain vs. Cal? Green doesn’t have the speed to do that and for that reason I really wouldn’t want to see Green be NU’s No. 1 back next year.
      Without Colter and Mark, our team speed will be taking a big hit in 2014. Unless an incoming frosh or redshirt frosh can step up, NU will once again be a “typically slow Big Ten team” on offense next year with Green and Siemian in the backfield and only one wide receiver — Tony Jones — with good speed.

  • Next Cat

    SF Chronicle columnist’s props to NU’s traveling fan base —

    Notwithstanding boos in the stadium after our defensive injuries had Sonny boy whining about stall tactics, the Cal fans were gracious, generous and good-humored hosts esp. outside the stadium pre-game — at least on the street leading into Memorial that had been transformed by purple tailgaters. Nice that the team busses happened to drop the players off right there in our midst as they headed into the stadium. Jim Phillips was kind enough to tell us “thanks for coming out”. . . which was my exact sentiment about them as a west coast alum thrilled to have my Cats finally playing in my state again for the first time since the Rose Bowl.

    One more good/great — the defense for the support it kept showing Dwight White who was clearly struggling with his confidence after getting beat twice upon replacing Jones. Have no idea if they showed any of that on TV but they were visibly rallying around the kid, bucking him up, and helping him get his head back on straight. Tyler Scott’s leadership really showed in that dangerous moment as did the strong support in the secondary for one another. Love when teams act like a team in the face of adversity like that. Very good sign going forward.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      Yeah, the defense and the coaching staff really picked him up and he came through in the fourth quarter. The TV broadcast showed Fitzgerald coaching him up. Wasn’t yelling or anything, was just talking to him. They were talking about the NU family atmosphere at the time.

    • jayrutz

      Yes, the Cal fans were mellow and nice! Other than booing the injuries. I don’t know, even with my purple glasses on, a few of the kneel downs seemed suspicious…

    • James Klock

      I was listening on WNUR, not watching the game– but my recollection is that the very first thing that Dwight White did upon coming into the game was break up a pass, right? Or, at the least, he was the cover man on a pass that was incomplete?

      • Next Cat

        Correct. Just before the half — first play after Jones went down and the lousy interference call, they went right at White. He did an excellent job of covering Treggs tight so he had no way to stay in bounds along the side of the end zone. His trouble started in the second half when Treggs had room to run and could blow by White. I will say that one of the long balls White seemed particularly upset at himself for giving up had looked to me like just one of those things. Looked like good to great coverage w/ a jump ball at the end that the other guy just happened to bring down. Those things happen and the main thing is for White to be mentally tough so he can accept that reality. I agree w/ PRR that he looked better as the game wore on and played well in the 4th. I think he’ll be fine in the long run.

  • gounorthwestern

    LTP, i was at the game last night and was horrified by the boos for injured players. cal fans appeared to forget this

    can we get a story???

    • Elston Gunn

      I was at the game and wanted to strangle every person who was booing. I generally like the Cal fans, and have been to lots of games there, but the booing was outrageous and, IMO, made the Cal fans look horribly ignorant. As if we’d pick Hampton, Ariguzo, and Proby to fake injuries with at critical spots on the field during key drives. Duh–no, that wouldn’t happen. To say nothing about Fitz being one of the most hard-nosed, tough-minded linebackers ever to play, and someone who would obviously never support or permit that. If Sonny was among those who was dubious, then shame on him. Seriously.

      • Old Fat Bald Guy

        Maybe the fans were taking their cue from the coach? I mean, let’s face it, most Cal fans aren’t going to know Chi Chi Ariguzo from Chi Chi Rodriguez. I did think it was odd that the announcers were so on board with Dykes’ complaints when they’d tell you in the next breath that NU desperately needed some possession because the defense had been on the field forever. And it is August, for cryin’ out loud. Or at least it was when the game started.

        • LTP

          I agree with Old Fat Bald Guy. I’d like to say we as NU fans wouldn’t have booed, but if we saw the emotion out of Fitz like Dykes displayed, you can bet we would’ve been rallying behind our coach. I really felt this is where ESPN blew it. Star defenders going down and then no follow-up on when they went back in, what the injury was, etc…

          • Elston Gunn

            I was on the Cal side, and so couldn’t see Dykes over the Cal players on the sideline. So, I didn’t see that he was having a hissy fit over the injuries. I therefore amend my earlier complaint. Yes, it’s reasonable for fans to follow their coach’s lead. But Dykes, apparently, is a fool. It’s hard to imagine that he could actually think that we were faking injuries—at those times, in those spots, to those players, with Fitz as our coach. I can understand him being frustrated, but that’s different from him complaining. If he complained, then shame on him.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      That incident was not mentioned during the broadcast. Despite every Northwestern and B1G fan watching linking to it or mentioning it in their timelines.

  • Punit

    Pretty sure Proby came back after first “sit down/injury” and did it again later (Hampton twice too I think).

    • Elston Gunn

      Yeah, my recollection is that Hampton, Ariguzo, and Proby all went off the field with an injury and that all came back. However, Hampton and Proby each went down again, and I don’t think either came back on after that. Not 100% sure about that though.

  • Elston Gunn

    On the opening kickoff, Harris seemed to get his bell rung. I was at the game and saw it pretty clearly, He took a very hard hit down near the 10 yd. line, which sent him to the ground. He quickly popped up and headed for the sideline, but he never quite could get his balance or his feet entirely under him, and the coaching staff went out to meet him about 5 yards from the sideline, where they grabbed him and sat him down and seemed mostly just to be talking to him. Hope he’s okay, but if he didn’t return — and I don’t know if he did or didn’t — I’d say it was probably a concussion. Just my guess.

    • LTP

      Saw that too. Had all the signs of a concussion. he got whacked.

    • Chasmo

      This injury to Harris might have more of an effect on NU than one might think at first glance. IF Jones is out for the season with his knee injury, NU will need a backup for Dwight White and the fact that true frosh Harris was playing in the season opener means that Fitz expected Harris to play on defense this year because Fitz has stated over and over again that he wouldn’t play a true frosh just on special teams. So Harris, one might conclude, was expected to play cornerback at some point this season.
      Harris might bounce back from this concussion quickly — or he might not. Treyvon Green blamed his poor production last year on struggling from the aftereffects of the concussion he suffered when hit by Campbell in a preseason scrimmage. IF Jones is done for the year, let’s home Harris has a very mild concussion and can return to full strength very soon. The Cat pass defense might need him.

  • cardiac cat fan

    Defense: The motto of the Northwestern defense is “bend but don’t break.” After getting gashed on the opening drive, they really clamped down the east-west run game of Cal. It reminded me a lot of last year – they’ll give up a lot between the 20’s, but near the end zones they’re really good. Collin Ellis, WHAAAAT! Awesome returns for TDs. Dwight White will come around, he improved as the game closed out.

    Offense: I don’t think anyone expected the offense to be put in the position they were early without Venric and Kain, but Siemian played well. It’s tough to tell if they offense struggled early in the 2nd half or Mick McCall was doing just enough to win the game and not show too much. The pass protection looked really good, and the run blocking looked good as well.

    Special Teams: #BudzienForGroza

    1-0 for the Week. Bring on ‘Cuse! Go ‘Cats!

  • nucats96

    Two things
    1) Dwight White is a redshirt freshman according to the official NU football roster, not a true freshman.

    2) I was told earlier in the week that Venric was having Hamstring issues but was “good to go” but apparently he wasn’t.

    • guest

      THANK YOU!
      ESPN must have mentioned Dwight White 10 times, and they never bothered to look at his profile? Another example of a poor broadcast.

    • LTP

      Indeed, thanks for the correction. Again, was listening to the ESPN announcers.

  • David

    Here are my comments on the broadcast…some negative some giving the benefit of the doubt.
    Brock Huard is a Washington Huskie grad, who grew up in Puyallup, WA. He has a local talk show on a Seattle sports station. No question he is PAC 12 guy… but He is typically reasonable guy.
    1) Some comments where he seemed to be rooting for Goff may have been misinterpreted. To me, Huard was communicating what the thinking of a true freshman QB needs to be. For instance before a play he said Goff can’t take a sack here. But, Huard was very complimentary of Trevor…he talked about the long throws, the darts and the tight windows. On this front, I think he is a QB being a QB

    2)Penalties- Huard immediately questioned the PI called on Jones. When Tony Jones was interfered in the endzone Huard again emphasized that this PI is clear….and the Daniel Jones PI was questionable. I thought it was comical when they discussed Campbell’s facemask. They pondered as to whether a facemask should be considered targeting. After the ejection….Huard said that the Van Hoose hit was not a penalty. They did not mention the no all on the horse collar on Mark.
    3) Real injuries- the lack of comments on Mark’s absence was surprising. I laughed at their comments following BB’s injury. BB goes down with 4 minutes left in the game…and they discussed what a devastating loss this would be to Cal. Here we had played the whole game without Colter and Mark.
    4) Fake injuries- This commentary was disappointing. It was funny when they went to the sideline reporter as the trainer was working on Proby and the Reporter talked about a player who came off the field and was not worked on.
    Still…in the PAC 12 they are more sensitive to this issue. Back in 2000 when A-Train dropped the ball against NU in the 54-51 thriller…my first thought was “point shaving”. That is because of our Lundy experience. I don’t believe that we were faking injuries…but I can understand why a PAC 12 guy might think that.
    5) PAC speed/Big 10 Huard’s comments on PAC 12 speed were silly. His comments came after White got torched twice. He neglected to include the fact that NU was beating Cal with out two fastest players on the bench.

    • LTP

      Great breakdown.

  • Jim B

    Wow I am glad we won but let’s be real here. Our defense was terrible most of the night. Our right cornerback position is VERY weak. Jones showed little improvement from last year and the backups we heard were have great springs and fall were EASY targets. Our weakness has been exposed. You can believe our coming opponents are going after that BIG time.
    Offense was a tougher read as Kolter was out. Think he will be back next week though. Fitz doesn’t take chances with players and rightly so. Concern I have is that V Mark got nothing really. If it is due to a mild hamstring pull then that is somewhat reassuring, but it might be a precursor to what we see all year. Defenses keying on Mark. I was impressed for the most part with our receivers and treyvon green’s performance. Mark not back on kickoffs leads me to believe we are trying to hide an injury.
    Also, we had a pretty physically mild fall training camp. It showed. Yes we won. Lots of injuries and I felt 8 months of optomism rushing away. Syracuse will tell us more about what we got.
    Good News: Ohio State did not look impressive, especially on Defense.

    • LTP

      If you think OSU wasn’t impressive, let me introduce you to Nebraska’s defense. Don’t overreact in one game. Same goes for every other team. The cliche of you improve most between week one and week two invites me to assess this team after the first four games.

    • J.R. McCullough

      I’m really interested to see how Ohio State handles Goff in week 3. Goff will have had two weeks to mature and Dykes will have a better handle on his team. I am not calling for an upset just yet, but it could certainly be a trap game for the Buckeyes.

  • David

    Kudos to Tony Jones! Last night I told my wife three times ” he dropped a lot of balls last year”. But he caught them all last night. He owned his inconsistency last season and said he was going to be reliable this year. He was!!!

  • Jim B

    I could not agree more with the overly conservative play calling on defense. 3rd and long and we rush three creating NO pressure, giving a true freshman all the time in the world. result after result – 1st down. Had it not been for the 2 pick 6’s we would lose that game. I’d rather be lucky than good sometimes and that’s was the real difference.
    I also wonder the impact the late start had on us? didn’t seem like much but hard to tell. Again, we will know more after the Syracuse game.

  • cece

    Blankin’ Sonny Dykes. Seriously. That guy. the master of the actual fake, who never shut up to the refs, who were, by my count, way in the pocket of Cal. Crying about the absolutely right on call that red carded the Cal defender out. Jeez. Berkeley is turning into Florida of the Spurrier years. Darn glad the ‘Cats beat the Bears.

    • cece

      oh, now I get it. it’s insider stuff, ESPNers….and probably refs….remembering Sonny’s dad, a college coach. “Spike Dikes and Tales from the Texas Tech Sidelines,” is the book written by Sonny’s daddy. Just amped up my ranking of Blankin’ for Sonny.

  • Robert Galliani

    Was at the game in Berkeley and can tell you the Cats overcame a hostile environment and an amped up Cal team. Had a perfect view on the Harris hit on the opening KO. He was absolutely leveled by two Cal guys in a hit that makes everyone around you stop and pause.

    Also Dwight White is a RS freshman. Might see some true freshman (Igwebuike, Watkins) burn their shirts in the coming weeks, depending on the severity of the Jones injury.

    I was disappointed Venric didn’t return punts or kicks last night. Tony Jones let a ball bounce 20 or so yards instead of making a fair catch and Buckley had the fumble/doesn’t look confident enough to handle the pounding. If Venric’s only going to get a dozen carries he’s got to be back there doing what he does best.

    • LTP

      Venric must have health issues. We’ll learn more this week. Yes, knew Dwight White is RS frosh, just was brainwashed by poor ESPN crew repeatedly calling him true frosh.

  • David

    Here is a toast to the first of dozens on Ifeadi Odenigbo sacks we will enjoy. He was so fast on that play.

  • Catatonic Joe

    I was trying to read Sonny Dyke’s lips during the post-game handshake. I can’t say for sure, but after all his whining, maybe he was quoting Hayden Fry to Fitz, “I hope we didn’t hurt any of your boys.”

  • Scott Feeney

    I generally agree with your “Great” and “Disappointing” comments. Overall, the Cats responded to a hostile bowl like environment, so I can’t complain too much. I am just glad we had Cal on their opening game and that they did not have one game of experience under their belt. If they had, we might not have come away with that win. Did anyone notice that Mark was not back for punt or kick returns? On punt returns, Buckley did not even try to catch the majority, if not all of the punts, giving up crucial field position. Had Buckley not have coughed up that one ball on the kickoff, the game might have been a bit easier. I don’t understand why Fitz doesn’t have his most dangerous weapon (i.e. Mark) in the one situation where he can do the most damage. I realize the guy is 170 pounds soaking wet, but are we going to protect him to the point of never using him. Also the Cats’ kick coverage was very suspect and very close to giving up some big run backs. We need to get that turned around.

    • LTP

      Clearly there is something wrong with Venric. He wasn’t getting handoffs. He played the opening series and the final series of the first half. He was on the sidelines the rest of the half.

  • dbcats

    I have to believe that Cal is going to score a lot of points this year. They’ve got speed, and as Goff matures he should turn into a pretty good QB. That was a very impressive first game for a true frosh. Keep in mind, NU gave up a whole chunk of yards through the air last year, but kept the run game down. That happened again last night. Same result, a win. Can’t argue with the formula if it works.

    For all the issues with the broadcast though, they hit one NU positive on the head: good teams take advantage of mistakes, and work to get the breaks. As the final score came into focus, they mentioned that NU got touchdowns off of every turnover, and capitalized on opportunities like a solid well-coached team should. In my opinion, if they can keep up that kind of play, they should be able to hang with just about anyone.

    • LTP

      The best text I got was from my bud Rob, who said “we continue to win games between the ears” and it was so true. Mental fortitude played a huge role last night.

      • polymersci

        I was at the game Saturday and was watching #2 White progress as the game wore on. After he got beat for the TD, it was clear he needed to get his head screwed on right. Kudo’s to the coaches and his other team players for pumping him up. He played with an attitude in the second half and put some mean hits on Cal’s #1 (probably not visible on the TV coverage). Getting beat was probably the best “education” the young man could have gotten. I agree, it’s the “game between the ears” and the Cats proved they are pretty good at this game. Go Cats!

    • chitown2424

      and we hurt ourselves when we had the ball inside the 5 yard line twice and settle for field goal and also gave up a fake field goal too. Otherwise I don’t think it was that close.

      • David

        Mark had a TD were it not for a horse collar. But given our situation last night…I would have brought in Trumpy and slammed it up the middle 3 times.

        • chitown2424

          I agree or maybe Green too. we should of pounded it in

          • charlie watts

            Or maybe now bring in Colin Ellis for a few up the middle. Probably could handle the job.

          • chitown2424

            He was a Running Back coming out of highschool!

  • Scott

    While I share the oft-expressed disappointment with the handling of the injury issues during the ESPN broadcast, I am equally or more disappointed with Adam Rittenberg’s game story on ESPN’s Big Ten blog, in which he refers to “a few injury flops” and, later, “injuries…both real and (possibly) imagined.” Medill doesn’t teach innuendo journalism, and those kinds of references, with only Sonny Dykes’ eyerolls as apparent corroboration, do an injustice to the game and to the players and coaches involved.

    • David

      I have made my position on AR clear numerous times. I am not surprised he took the position he did. He tries to hard to show that he is not a Cat fan.

  • LTP

    To @NextCat’s point on SF Chronicle article giving NU fans props for traveling. Here is the quote:

    “Walking the streets of Berkeley before Cal’s football opener Saturday night, I felt suddenly disoriented. Underhill Field, at the corner of Channing and College, had been transformed into a full-blown Northwestern headquarters.

    This was no fly-by-night operation. It was organized with great precision, complete with an elaborate buffet, cocktail bar, big-screen television and enough tables and chairs for at least 500 people.

    The place was packed with alumni, a festival of purple and white. I asked one of the revelers if this was a common on-the-road scene, and he said, “We’ve got a lot of alumni in the Bay Area – but, yeah, pretty much.”

    When San Jose State hosted Sacramento State on Thursday night, there might have been 38 people who made the drive down from Sacramento. Northwestern, just outside Chicago, brought its own restaurant.”

  • LTP

    Dan Persa will be checking in in the next 48 hours with a Monday Morning QB feature. It’s a short week, but man is it going to be a packed one!

  • James Klock

    I was definitely saddened by the poor sportsmanship of the Cal players (taking a bow), fans (booing potentially injured players) and coach (making reference in his post-game press conference to his surprise that our players weren’t getting off the field faster).

    *Every* team should *always* be cautious about potential player injuries. A team that has a starting QB go out with a concussion on the second play of the game can be reasonably expected to be particularly sensitive to further injuries.

    A coach who has a player ejected for executing a hit that has been deemed unreasonably likely to *cause* injury has absolutely *no* leg to stand on, in commenting on the other team’s management of potential injuries.

    Total loser talk, to the point that I’m really not looking forward to seeing Cal for the rematch next year. Bunch of whiners.

    • David

      We will beat them again next year…it is the opener after all. We will give them the 9:00 am treatment. Cal started classes 8/22 this year. It will be similar next year. They do not have as much flexibility to tinker with the schedule. I am glad we will be done with Goff before 2015 & 2016.

      • cebpd

        what about the Rose Bowl?

    • NUMBalumDave

      I shared this sentiment in other posts. There was a lot of talk about how Sonny Dykes was such a quiet, soft-spoken gentleman. Well, if he sent his boys out to go a-headhuntin’ then I call b.s. on that narrative.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      Pat Fitzgerald said it during his postgame. He coaches his players to stay down when they are injured rather than trying to run off the field. It benefits the team to do it that way because the refs will stop play and there is no potential for a penalty if he cannot get off in time. I don’t know what else you are supposed to do.

      • James Klock

        As something of an amateur athlete myself, I can say that it *also* reduces the risk of worsening an injury. NU, like *every* NCAA football program, has a staff of trainers, who are highly skilled and have a solid background in diagnostic sports medicine, whose job it is to know what sorts of injuries are likely to occur, to know how to recognize injuries based on patient presentation, and to know how to minimize risk and maximize recovery potential in the event of an injury. Players do *not* have that training, and while I do believe that ultimate people (and especially athletic people) should be the experts on our own bodies, at the level of play that occurs in FBS, it makes sense to leave decisions about any potential injury to a professional.

        I can’t remember the last time I saw a player limping off the field *without* having a consult from a trainer first– and I would expect that ANY player on ANY NCAA team who did so should get a good talking to on the sidelines.

      • nucats96

        I was wondering if you guys could/would post links or transcripts from Fitz’s new conferences. Post game and Monday especially. Is that possible?

  • David

    Let’s see….
    SEC – check Vandy 2010, 2012, MSU 2012
    Big East – check Syracuse 2012
    ACC- check BC 2011, 2012
    PAC 12- check Cal 2013
    Big 12- ahhhh…It seems there are no academic peer institutions in the Big 12.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      Baylor? No reason why we shouldn’t try to go into Texas and play Tech or UT-Austin. Set up a 2-for-1 with Texas with one of the games at Wrigley or Soldier Field or something. We could be ready for a series like that and it couldn’t hurt us as we try to move into Texas more.

  • NUParent

    Bryce Treggs, Cal’s receiver, acknowledged in his press conference after the game that he recognized the injured NU players accused of faking injury were cramping. End of story. Maybe Dykes should talk to his players before questioning our team’s and Fitz’s integrity.

    Cal and Dykes will never become a successful program as long as they make excuses for losing.

    • James Klock

      Good on Treggs, for rising above his coach’s level.

    • LTP

      I need to go find this quote. Thanks for sharing!

  • bandcat

    Thank the football gods for the Deflectsixes….Really proud of Treyvon Grenn and nice to see Mike Jensen snag one..Cal was a large fast and hardhitting not the Little Sisters of the Poor…kudos to the staff and team for playing smart and under control.

  • disqus_bCM6AUkl4T

    What I was really confused about is that the ESPN commentators started hypothesizing that NU players were faking injuries and then they would just show Dykes getting pissed off. Why didn’t they play any replays? I was only able to find replays of about 3 of the injuries late in the 3rd/early in the 4th, but to me they looked legit. The first time Proby went off the field he had just been slammed into the ground and immediately appeared to be in pain.

    One time when Hampton went down, he was going around a group of blockers and Proby (I think) was coming from the other direction and they slammed into each other (you could hear it on the broadcast) and both of them immediately went down and were both slow to get up. In fact, the play even went on for a few more seconds and they were both unable to get up. It was just a couple plays later is when Proby got injured and went off the field (this time I think it was for good). I think he had some pain that might have been kicking in from that play.

    • LTP

      Or, track the ‘Cats they were commenting on. No mention of when Proby or Hampton would go back in. No talking about the time elapsing. No sideline report during this stretch.

  • David

    Don’t forget who was at the game last night. BossMan4, Brandon Lee. Maybe watching Dykes cry on the sideline as NU overcame adversity will work in our favor. It also can’t hurt that a LB took 2 to the house…can it?

  • Wildcat86

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned but thought was very impressive (much like the MSU game last year) was the final drive. Our o-line was able to create holes for Green. And while the play calling wasn’t super agressive, it also wasn’t as conservative as it could have been. Really liked the poise we had to drive the length of the field after Campbell’s INT.

  • Nate

    NU ran the ball down Cal’s throat when it mattered most and put that game away with Trey’s second TD. That was the most refreshing thing to see. Happy for Trey and the o-line.

    • Mark

      Totally agree. Looked like early in game our running inside the tackles on straight handoffs mostly were stuffed. As game progressed there were alleys for running and yardage was made.

  • PurpleHayes

    A good win….not a great win….but for those who say “we haven’t improved”, etc., remember how we felt about our team after squeaking by Syracuse last year. If we can get healthy again, I think we’ll be fine in 2013. It was definitely a game of team character, as evidenced by big plays when we badly needed them. I’ll cite three:
    * T Green’s big run right after the opening TD. Great work by the OL, too. That game could have gotten away from us early. Instead, we went down and tied it up.
    * Siemian’s 3rd-down completion from the end zone for a 1st down, I believe on the same play where Cal’s hot dog pass rusher took his bows. Punting in that situation with a gassed defense would have been disastrous–add to it the distraction of the penalty and ejection, and it may have been the biggest play of the game. But it started with a clutch throw by Siemian under pressure.
    * Campbell’s INT. Did an NU safety actually have the moxie to bait a young QB? Either way, it was a game-changer to be sure.
    As for all the talk about biased announcing, I don’t necessarily agree. Or maybe it was because I was so frustrated with the INCOMPETENT announcing I didn’t notice. Seems like the crew got handed 2-3 index cards of story lines for each team and had nothing more to say. (I think Kain was one of their index cards, and when he went out and we lost half our playbook, they lose half their script!) Their announcing was repetitive and inane. Case in point on how bad the crew was: how seldom did they even mention who made tackles? Almost never, as if they didn’t even learn defensive personnel (on either side). We had some very good, and very bad, defensive play, and much of it went unmentioned. Oh well, keep winning and we’ll get stronger announcers.
    Could be another fight on our hands Saturday, but I like this team’s approach and attitude. Go Cats!

    • maryland cat

      This is why I listened to the game on WGN (lying in bed) with the sound off and occasionally looked up at the screen for key plays. (I was in a hotel room with wife trying to sleep). I figured with a freshman throwing 99 times I would hear Eanet shout Intercepted By The Wildcats a few times and I did. And anytime a QB throws that many times he will get 400-plus yards, so honestly, this defensive performance was fine. I was at the Sun Bowl and I think Brett Basanez is still in El Paso throwing. So let’s not start spiffing Goff for anything yet.

  • aaron

    We won because of these two factors: Trevor, and a pair of lucky pick-sixes. Our defense gave up way too many points and yardage to such a team to be credited with a good game. The fact is we won despite Kain and Venric being out because of Trevor’s arm and some lucky bounces of the ball which were returned for touchdowns. This is not how championships, or for that matter, big games are won. If our defense doesn’t step up we are looking at a 7-5 or 8-4 season. Trevor played pretty well and so did Greene and Vitale but if we’re really honest I think we got lucky last night. Keep in mind Cal had a lot of mental errors and miscues which again, was lucky for us. I’m elated we won but really concerned about our defense.

    • cebpd

      you create your own luck. you say we had lucky bounces, what about our fumble which Cal turned into 6 in short order? take that away too if you discredit Ellis.

      • chitown2424

        and fake field goal! that’s quick 11 points. The problem I have is we were in the 5 yard line twice and settle for field goals

        • cebpd

          harder without Kain

    • David

      You sound elated.

    • Mark

      Definitely missed Kain and Venric – the zone read and about 80% of running game out the window without them. But I did see the O line get better or at least more successful in the power running game as it went along. Luck on the interceptions? Well I remember lots of “lucky” incidents over the year to help teams win. The thing I was impressed with was Ellis’s speed. You train your DL to raise arms and jump when pass is coming out and you do tip drills for a reason. Ellis was a running back in high school – 1,800 yards in last two years – and also ran track. So do I see this as a pair of luck pick-sixes? Mostly not.

      • LTP

        I should’ve mentioned Ellis’ speed in my recap. That was really impressive, especially beating out so many Cal skill players on the 3rd quarter pick.

  • Jon Vander Woude

    Venric Mark sent this tweet this morning: Venric Mark ‏@PurpleBlaze_5


    Control what you can control in life then let go and let God do his work and in the end the rest will come to u.

  • El_SupaKat

    Bryce Treggs talks about our players cramping at around 1:30

    • David

      Impressive young man….he represents his school well.

  • Dave B

    If I am not mistaken the first of Ellis’s TD’s occurred when an NU defender tipped the ball. When a receiver tips a ball it is the receivers fault. When a defender tips a ball the QB threw it where he could tip it. So I respectfully disagree with the comment that two out of three were not Goff’s fault. Tipped passes are generally put on the quarterback shoulders. Glad for the victory and GO CATS!

  • David Plunkett

    If the injuries were faked then our world-class theater department did a tremendous job teaching those young men acting.

    In all seriousness, when you ask kids to play an incredibly physical game, against your offense that is DESIGNED TO TIRE YOUR OPPONENT, in a game that ends at 1:30 a.m. their time, they are going to get winded and cramp.

  • Mark

    Oh, and by the way it does look like Michigan State could be worse this year on offense than last year. Their defense outscored the offense. Lots of time for them to find a QB before the Cats game.