Monday, June 20, 2011

Northwestern Wildcats 2010 Review

Northwestern Wildcats
2010 Record: 7-6 (3-5), Tied 7th Big Ten
2010 Bowl Game: Ticket City Bowl, Lost to Texas Tech 45-38

     The Wildcats are a frustrating bunch. They had an outstanding offense, but there was no balance and the defene was an open barn door. The Wildcats have now made it to three straight bowls, and Pat Fitzgerald has the Wildcats running in the right direction. Northwestern may never compete for a ntional title, but there is a certain level to which they can aspire, and there are certain expectations to which they should be held to.
     Dan Persa was another in the line of really strong Wildcat QBs. Persa connected to pass for 2581 yards on the season, and he tossed 15 TD passes, but the real story was that he only threw 4 picks all season long. He also completed a very nice 73.5% of his passes on the season. He did miss two games, so health is a concern with him. Persa also was second on the team with 519 yards rushing, and he scored a team leading 9 TDs on the ground.
     Mike Trumpy led the team (barely) in rushing with 530 yards and 4 scores on the year. Trumpy only carried the ball 10.55 times per game, so there was not much that you could expect of him in that game plan.
     Five different receiver caugh at least 20 passes last fall. Jeremy Ebert was the leader, having posted 62-953-8. He was by far the best receiver on the roster, and looks to come back for a strong senior season. He was followed by Sidney Stewart (40-454-0), Drake Dunsmore (40-381-5), Demetrius Fields (25-291-2), and Trumpy (20-182-0).
      Northwestern on defense was like watching a bullfight, and the bullfighter loses every time. The Wildcats were easily trounced on defense, having given up 415.7 yards per game. Teams passed for an average of 230..5 yards per game, while rushing for an average of 185.2 yards per game. Obviously, this was a huge problem area for Pat Fitzgerald.
     Northwestern had five defenders average 5 tackles or more per game last fall, and they were led in this area by junior DB Brian Peters. Peters collected 107 tackles (8.23 per game), and will return to anchor the unit next fall. He was followed by Nate Williams (96, 7.38), Quentin Davie (71, 5.46), Bryce McNaul (62, 5.64), and David Arnold (42, 5.25). McNaul missed two games last fall, while Arnold missed five games.
     DE Vince Browne was a wall up front for the Wildcats defense, as he collected 15.5 TFLs last season, and was the only Wildcat to hit double figures. Nate Williams came up just short, as he finished with 9.5 on the season. Corbin Bryant came in third with 8.5. Northwestern came up with 79 TFLs as a team, but the offense gave up 91. Browne also led the team with 7 sacks, but nobody else had more than 2. The Wildcats collected only 17 sacks, but the offense gave up 40. Huge issues here.
     In the secondary, one DB stood out amongst all others for the Wildcats, and that was Jordan Maybin, who defended an incredible 14 passes last fall. Maybin will return this fall as the anchor of the secondary. Justan Vaughn had five, and was the only other defender on the roster to hit that mark. Brian Peters and Qunetin Davie tied for the team lead with 3 picks per player last fall, and the Wildcats picked off 15 passes total, while giving up only 10 on offense. Davie, a LB, also led the team with 7 QB hurries on the season, as the Wildcats created 40 total QB hurries as a team. They also forced 10 fumbles last season.
     Stefan Demos had a rough season last year, which was his final for Northwestern. Demos, the PK, only hit on 16 of his 23 FG attempts, finishing at 69.6% for the year. He also missed 4 PAT tries, hitting 34 of 38. Freshman punter Brian Williams has some work to do coming into his sophomore season, as he only averaged 39.98 yards per punt. He should advance past 40 this season, or Fitzgerald will have to find someone to push him. Freshman Venric Mark was very good on kick returns, averaging 26.19 yards per return last fall. Mark had his best game against Wisconsin, and he returned a kick for a score that day in the loss. Mark collected 273 yards in kick returns in the 70-23 loss to the Badgers. Mark also averaged 12.89 yards on punt returns.
Final Notes
     The Wildcats had some serious issues last fall, especially on defense. If Dan Persa can come back like last season, and the Cats can find some semblance of improvement and depth on defense, the Wildcats could be a middle tier bowl team next fall. If the defense continuees to fail, the offense may be no longer able to keep up. Fitzgerald, a former LB, needs to find a way to slow the bleeding, or else the Cats could get buried alive in the new format.

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