Northwestern football’s recent history is filled with terrible losses followed by big wins so I don’t want to write NU off just yet, however, the loss tonight shows NU has major flaws which existed in the first two games and have not been corrected. That is the mark of a poor team. Most notably, Northwestern’s defense can’t stop the passing game and gets very little pressure on the opposing QB. Considering this has been a problem against a MAC team and now a guy who has played 3 football games in four years, I think this a bid sign for the upcoming matchup with stud QB Adam Weber or Minnesota. It’ll also be a problem against most of the other Big Ten teams NU plays. I really don’t know what the problem is, but this season the defense has looked for like it did during the heyday of the Greg Colby era. That’s bad.
On offense NU can’t seem to get a running game going. I’d personally like to see more Arby Fields. He showed a brief flash tonight, but then disappeared. I’d also still like to see more of Mike Kafka running as I don’t think he can be counted on to throw the ball as well as he did tonight in future games.
Finally, NU’s special teams look terrible on kickoff coverage and punt return. These are key field position areas and NU needs to control field position to be successful. If Demos can’t kick the ball into the endzone in a dome he should not kickoff. On punt return, our outside blockers need to at least get in the way of the other team’s gunners or one of these days Smith is going to get seriously hurt.
Again, I’m not writing the season off, but right now Northwestern looks like the type of team who will have to battle to reach a .500 record and a big to a low-level bowl. They don’t have to stay there, but a very different team needs to show up against Minnesota if they don’t want to do so.