#22 Northwestern Football 2013 Preview

Northwestern Wildcats

Overall Rank: #22
#4 Big Ten

Northwestern Team Page#22 Northwestern Football 2013 PreviewBuy Northwestern Football Tickets

If this was anybody besides Northwestern, there would be a lot of talk about winning the Big Ten Legends Division. The Wildcats return plenty of talent from a team that went 10-3 last season, including a nice win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. The Legends Division will be tough with Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska all hoping for a trip to the conference championship game. The conference schedule makers were not too kind to the Wildcats either with Ohio State and Wisconsin as the two crossover games besides rival Illinois. If Northwestern is going to get to the title game, they will certainly have to earn it.

2012 Record: 10-3, 5-3
2012 Bowl: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State (W 34-20)
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald (50-39 at Northwestern, 50-39 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mick McCall
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Hankwitz

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Venric Mark, RB, 1,366 yards
Passing: Trevor Siemian, QB, 1,312 yards
Receiving: Christian Jones, WR, 412 yards
Tackles: Damien Proby, LB, 112
Sacks: Tyler Scott, DE, 9.0
Interceptions: Nick VanHoose, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: QB/RB/WR Kain Colter, RB Mike Trumpy, WR Tony Jones, WR Rashad Lawrence, TE Dan Vitale, OL Jack Konopka, OL Brandon Vitabile, LB Chi Chi Ariguzo, S Ibraheim Campbell, CB Daniel Jones, DT Sean McEvilly, K Jeff Budzien

Key Losses: WR Demetrius Fields, OL Patrick Ward, OL Brian Mulroe, OL Neil Deiters, LB David Nwabuisi, DT Brian Arnfelt, DE Quinten Williams, CB Demetrius Dugar, CB Quinn Evans, S Jared Carpenter

On offense the Wildcats will again be led by do-it-all Kain Colter. He threw for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed for 894 yards and a dozen scores and caught 16 passes for 169 yards. While Trevor Siemian is the passing quarterback, Colter is a very accurate passer who has mostly made good decisions. Coach Pat Fitzgerald will once again rotate quarterbacks depending on the situation and the hot hand. Colter will always be in the game somewhere, but Siemian will chuck it down the field more often to one of the many returning receivers. Christian Jones, Tony Jones, Rashad Lawrence and Dan Vitale all caught between 28 and 35 passes a year ago. Kyle Prater, a former Trojan of USC, did not make much of an impact during his first try with Northwestern, but he is the best receiver on the team when it comes to raw talent. It is just a question of when that talent turns into production. Running back Venric Mark had an amazing season, rushing for 1,366 yards and 12 scores. He is also one of the best punt returners in the country and a fine pass catcher out of the backfield. Northwestern has plenty of big playmakers on the other side of the ball too. Linebacker Damien Proby tallied 112 tackles and Chi Chi Ariguzo always seems to be around the ball. He recovered four fumbles and intercepted two passes. The secondary is led by safety Ibraheim Campbell and corners Daniel Jones and Nick VanHoose should be even better with a year of starting experience under their belt.

Northwestern rarely has big, tough or deep lines, at least compared to the rest of the Big Ten. On the offensive line, juniors Brandon Vitabile and Jack Konopka are the only returning starters. Those are two good players to build around and will man the center and left tackle spots, respectively, yet the rest of the line is young, inexperienced and still in the process of beefing up. Even if Coach Fitzgerald can find a few starters to support Vitabile and Konopka, depth will be a problem. The defensive line has talent, most notably end Tyler Scott. Last season Scott recorded 9.0 sacks and forced three fumbles. There are some promising options on the line, like 6-6 sophomore end Dean Lowry and tackles Sean McEvilly and Chance Carter. Yet, expecting this team to rank third in the Big Ten in rushing defense is going to be asking a bit much.

The Bottom Line:
Northwestern will make plenty of big plays on both sides of the ball and they have a couple stars with Colter and Mark. Managing through their tough schedule though will be extremely difficult without depth in the trenches. A conference title is too much to ask for, but Northwestern will make some headlines by knocking off a couple Big Ten powers.

Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 225.54 (19th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 169.08 (106, 10)
Total Offense: 394.62 (64, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.69 (42, 3)
Rushing Defense: 127.62 (21, 3)
Pass Defense: 250.54 (84, 12)
Total Defense: 378.15 (47, 8)
Scoring Defense: 22.54 (29, 5)
Turnover Margin: 1.08 (10, 1)
Sacks: 2.15 (50, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (22, 1)

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#245 Matt Alviti


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