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Eastern Illinois Review and Army Preview

Wildcats Win Catfight With Panthers!

The Northwestern Wildcats had a dominating win. Quoting from my prediction “The Probable”:

Colter looks even more comfortable as the starter and does a good job. Watkins gets some valuable time as does QB1d. The O and D lines dominate, easily shoving EIU around. … Northwestern slowly adds to the lead and grinds the opposition down. The Cats look good... The Final Score: NU 35, EIU 17 - The Wildcats get the win, but the Panthers beat the point spread (which is ~31 points). Despite that, the game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.

I called it pretty close. The differences were:
Watkins was QB1d vice QB1c.
The final score was Northwestern 42 - Eastern Illinois University (margin was 21 vice 18). EIU did beat the point spread. But that was because Coach Fitz kept it classy.

My blood pressure at the end of the game: 140/90 - high, but not a Cardiac Cats moment.

I think there were some critical successes, including:
* The line play on both sides of the ball was dominating. Northwestern intentionally kept the ball on the ground to run out the clock and to avoid the appearance of running up the clock. The O-line still blew open enough holes to give the Wildcats a number of long drives.
* Conditioning. There is no substitute. NU once again ran the other side ragged.
* Running game looked really good. They got the most ground yards in years.
* Lots of subs got to play. Giving the 2nd/3rd/4th teams actual game experience will pay dividends down the road.
* Returns. Wow! Northwestern has some speed via Venric Mark.

But not everything was coming up roses:
* I still want to see NU have the longest long bomb touchdown pass in the entire game. The Panthers had a much longer touchdown pass than NU did.
* The defense can’t give up multiple 3rd-and-longs long plays. That will eventually haunt NU late in some game.
* I would really like to see Northwestern crush the point spread against teams they should beat.

I will also give the Eastern Illinois Panthers credit for playing with heart. They never gave up. That said, there were some cheap “spearing” type tackles. If the refs don’t want to call the personal foul then NU needs to take their own shots as a deterrence.

Sometime I’ll explain what deterrence was when I was on the Fencing team. It was effective.

Anyway, a good game by Northwestern. The margin of victory could have been much larger but Coach Fitz showed class, as did the rest of the team.


Army Preview!

First off - I want to say “Thank you!” to the young men and women at West Point. You’ve all chosen to put service to your country before personal gain, or even personal safety. You are bravely signing up to be warriors defending this country and its allies. I’m able to write this column and all the other things I do because there are men and women in the military who are defending America. Thank you.

That said - don’t take this the wrong way - I really hope that Northwestern cleans your clocks on the football field. Otherwise - Go Army!

And now for the scenarios.

The Good:

The battle is epic. Both teams play well. Northwestern finds that Army is the first team this season that can hang with them in the fourth quarter; Army’s conditioning is the equal of the Wildcats’. Persa makes a tentative return and riddles Army’s secondary with pinpoint strikes to Ebert and company. Colter spells Persa and does his own sort of damage.

Meanwhile the Cats’ defense bends but does not break too much against the Black Knights. The Wildcat defense gives up more points than the previous games, but manages to keep the issues manageable. The Wildcats finally pull away in the 4th quarter.

The Final Score: Wildcats 38, Black Knights 28. After the game everyone shakes hands and the gentlemen of Northwestern salute the warriors of West Point. Both sides show a lot of class.

The Bad:

The battle is epic for about the first half. Northwestern finds that Army is the first team this season that whose conditioning is the better of the Wildcats’. Persa is pressed into tentative service and isn’t bringing his A-game. It is not an auspicious start for Persa’s return. Colter doesn’t do any better. NU struggles to move the ball since Army’s defense against the run is better than NU’s run game.

Meanwhile the Cats’ defense gets run over by the Black Knights. The Wildcat defense gives up more points than the previous games; it isn’t pretty at all. You can bet that future Wildcat opponents will study the film carefully as the Black Knights lay all of Northwestern’s defensive weaknesses bare.

The Final Score: Army 38, NU 17… and it could have been far worse. After the game everyone shakes hands and the gentlemen of Northwestern salute the warriors of West Point. Both sides show a lot of class… but Army wins.

The Probable:

The battle is epic the whole four quarters. Both teams’ offenses play well. The defenses, not so much. Northwestern finds that Army is the first team this season that can hang with them the whole game. Army’s conditioning is the equal of the Wildcats’. Persa makes a tentative return and riddles Army’s secondary with some pinpoint strikes to Ebert and company. But he isn’t quite ready to go the full game. Colter does well, but he isn’t quite the passer that Persa is.

Meanwhile the Cats’ defense gets chewed up pretty badly in fits and starts. The Black Knights try to put the game away but cannot close the deal. The Wildcat defense gives up more points than the previous games but hangs close. The Wildcats finally gain and hold a lead in the final five minutes of the game.

The Final Score: Northwestern 38, Army 34. NU wins but Army covers the point spread. After the game everyone shakes hands and the gentlemen of Northwestern salute the warriors of West Point. Both sides show a lot of class.

Other Stuff:

Best of luck to the “Sailgate” crews over at LakethePosts. I hope you all have fun and help encourage the Wildcats to a win.

Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
NUMBSpiritLeader@gmail.com
Twitter: #nuspiritleader.

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