The good news and bad news is that we’ve started looking ahead to the next week of college football. This is good new because obviously nobody associated with Northwestern’s program can be happy with last week’s loss. It’s bad news because the Wildcats need to make a serious mental change and have less than a week to do so. The good news, again, is I really believe NU’s problem isn’t talent. The bad news, again, is that sometimes making a mental change is harder than making a physical one.
The change I see NU needing to make is to relax and stop putting some much pressure on themselves while playing. NU came into this season with a certain amount of expectation and right now it looks like the Wildcats are feeling the weight of those expectations. Looking at NU’s sideline it appeared like everyone was on edge. Nobody seemed to loose and relaxed. This is a bad thing. The best players are their most relaxed and loose under pressure. They also have the ability not to let self-awareness of mistakes or high-pressure situations bother them. The 2009 Northwestern Wildcats seem to do the opposite. Whenever anything goes wrong it’s as if you can see NU’s players looking at each other going, “Oh Crap! We’re supposed to be good!” A great example of this was when Minnesota scored to take the lead in the 4th quarter, instead of NU’s sideline showing confidence, you could see them deflate and seemingly start to think “It’s just like last week. Here we go again.” And because they thought that, that’s right where they went.
This is dramatically different from past Northwestern teams, including last year’s group, who seemed to thrive when the pressure was on. The only difference I can think of is that people expected this year’s team to be good so every time they fail the weight of that failure is felt. Ever worse, it seems that because they feel that weight, they can’t let it go. I really believe guys like Cornerback Jordan Mabin seem to be spending a lot of time thinking about mistakes. Jordan and his teammates need to get back the ability to “Flush it” that they were so proud of last season. Eight games are left in the 2009 season and if the Wildcats can’t get over their failures in the last two then the next eight will likely be repeats of those because that’s what will be on the player’s minds when they take the field.
Let’s change that ‘Cats.
Go 1-0 this week against Purdue.