Last year I traded Q&As with Lake The Posts, the premminent Northwestern blog in all of the land. It was so much fan we decided to do it again. (Jealous?)
Read on below to find out more about these Northwestern Wildcats, what they're all about what we can expect from them on Saturday. And be sure to keep an eye on Lake The Posts over the next few days for updates.
Eastern Michigan, huh? Explain thyself.
Hmmm...not sure there is an explanation. Some things in the universe lack explanation - BUT, I'll try. Here's the concise thought: The 'Cats lack killer instinct. We were dominating up 21-0 and in full control. We had 3 TOs including two within our 30 (one at the 11). More importantly for the 2nd straight week we looked lackluster after halftime. Complacency was obvious. There is absolutely zero home field advantage as we make your attendance look enviable and the flat atmosphere was mirrored by the on-field play. The most scary part was EMU ran it right down our throats. Our D-line wouldn't have stopped a Pop Warner team. If I were Marrone, I'd run it for the first 20 plays right up the gut.
What's the big difference that Syracuse can expect from Northwestern this year from last?
Great question. We don't know what we have. NU fans are very frustrated that we've been keeping our play-calling so close to the vest. We need to have Kafka open it up on the run game as he's so good at it. The biggest difference is the names at WR. The offense has looked solid, which was the big question mark - but again, consider the opponents (Towson, EMU). Our "D" looks horrible and we (and Fitz) have been talkinga about this "D" being the best and possibly better than the '95 team that led the nation in scoring defense.
Kafka is a very solid QB. I hope we take the schackles off this week. Our RB game is suspect at best. Keep an eye on Andrew Brewer, our primary WR. We had high hopes for Jeremy Ebert who was great as a frosh, but he's been getting little playing time. Demetrius Fields has showed promise at WR.
You guys started last season 5-0 and ended up 9-4, losing a heartbreaker in the Alamodome. How do you look back on the season? How does this team stack up?
We look back at it as a great season. We had one bad loss - at Indiana, which is inexcusable and the next notch for us to get to the next level - we can't lose any games like that we're supposed to win. Yes, we had a soft non-conference schedule (sorry!), but we played well and improved nearly each week with two exceptions. Our win over Illinois at home to end the season was an impressive showing and our Alamo Bowl near major upset gave everyone high hopes -specifically on D - for this season. Again, we now have no clue. Consensus is anything less than 8 wins would be a disappointment as we have a soft non-conference schedule and rotate Ohio State and Michigan off the schedule. Talk to me after Saturday and I'll tell you what we have!
Northwestern is going to beat Syracuse because...
The "D" gets its collective head out of the sand and Mike Hankwitz actually opens up the playcalling and schemes. Corey Wootton, our all-american DE finally gets comfortable (he's been non-existent) with his knee which he blew out in the Alamo Bowl and regains his terrorizing ways to free up the rest of our line. We play mistake free ball on offense and we let Kafka open up the playbook and let him run, which is the key to making our spread work. Our special teams coverage on kicks actually makes an opponent start consistently at their 20. The line continues to slide in the Orange's favor and NU assumes its more favorable role of underdog.
Syracuse is going to beat Northwestern because...
The 'Cats D-line and secondary play like they did last week, which means "not well". Doug Marrone takes a play out of the Ron English playbook and runs off-tackle rushes for 20 straight plays in the 3rd quarter and the 'Cuse leverage Greg Paulus' winning instinct to pull out a win. Mike Williams runs amok and takes advantage of our star CB's injured wheel (Sherrick McManis). The 'Cuse continually take kickoff returns after FGs out to the 45. Marrone adjusts and continues to outscheme NU's coaching staff which has been out play called, and outplayed in the second half.
How many Northwestern fans can we expect in the Dome this weekend?
500. Tops. Despite the relatively huge alumni base in NY/Fairfield County, the trek to Syracuse is enough of a barrier for folks to not travel. Considering our current home attendance is dreadful, I highly doubt a strong travel game. Sad, but true.