College Football Preview: The 2014 Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern looks for a rebound in the win column to make a run at a Bowl.
2014 College Football Preview
Pat Fitzgerald looks to turn an experienced squad in to a winner after a disappointing 2013.
Overview: Northwestern went 1-4 in one possession games in 2013 in varied and unusual ways with the offense fading after a strong start. A player's union trying to organize off the field magnified just how unusual the season was but will it be a distraction for a team trying to rebound from a 5-7 campaign?
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Offense: With Kain Colter gone the Wildcats lose 583 passing yards and 574 more on the ground which likely leaves Trevor Siemian as the top guy after he split playing time with the former. Siemian threw for 2,143 yards with eleven scores and nine picks on nearly 60% with minimal yardage on the ground. Tony Jones and Christian Jones lead the receiving corps with a combined 1,284 yards on 109 receptions while Treyvon Green paced the rushing attack with 736 yards and will get some help from Stephen Buckley while Venric Mark returns from injury after gaining 1,371 yards in 2012. The O-Line gets everyone back which hopefully translates in to a more effective rushing game.
Defense: The defensive line returns a decent amount of experience with plenty of players certain to see the field. Four ends make up the majority of the returnees so one would assume a decent pass rush. The linebacking unit loses leading tackler Damien Proby but Chi Chi Ariguzo and Collin Ellis were active tacklers and combined for seven interceptions. The secondary gets the top five back not including Daniel Jones who returns from a knee injury he suffered in the 2013 opener. This group has five recuits rated at three stars or better which should help in the depth department.
Special Teams: The punt game would benefit from a stronger leg and need a placekicker with Matthew Harris and Tony Jones handling kick and punt return duties respectively.
Outlook: The Wildcats should have enough experience (and talent) to see an improvement in the win column. How much improvement is the question. Enough to become Bowl eligible isn't out of the question.