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Wildcats Squeeze by Orange; and Vanderbilt Preview

Northwestern Gains Lead; Blows Lead; Comes Back in Last Seconds; Causes a Zillion Heart Attacks

Let’s cut to the chase - Northwestern’s performance was flat out alarming and it’s getting old. Jump to a 22 point lead then blow it, falling behind. Not cool. By the end of the game my blood pressure was 160/110; I thought I might start bleeding from my nose (again).

As the last 2:40 in the game was ticking away I was hurriedly scribbling a will whilst I was screaming at the Cats to at least win the game as I tweeted my death. And then something amazing happened - Colter did the right thing and took a bullet for the team.

Colter earned “All-American Teammate” by manning up, telling the coaches that he was badly dinged up and that Trevor Siemian would give the team the best chance of winning as QB. That took guts.

Siemian cooly took the team down the field and got the touchdown with 0:44 left in the game. After the successful PAT made it 42-41, the NU D then hung on for the last few seconds of the game.

Classic Cardiac Cats. And it’s going to kill me one day. Could we just blow out someone? I know that Coach Fitz is a classy guy and doesn’t want to be accused of running up the score on anyone. So could we all agree that 40 points is considered an adequate lead? Maybe 45…?

Commodores Ahoy! Nerd Bowl Ahead!

The home opener for Northwestern is tomorrow. The Vanderbilt Commodores are coming for a visit. Being from the SEC and ticked off that they lost a tough game last week to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Commodores have a bit of an attitude.

A diversion - the University of South Carolina (AKA “USC the Lesser”) has a very large and angry chicken as their mascot. Make what you will of that. Anyway…

The game is a night game and Coach Fitz is 0-career in night games. Last week the defense ran hot and cold as did the offense. (Only Venric Mark consistently ran hot. Do you think the Commodores noticed and will be keying on him?) NU blew a 22 point lead. I think they walked under ladders or something. Etc. It isn’t looking good on paper for Northwestern, who is the underdog.

But, Coach Fitz says that the greatest improvement occurs between Week 1 and Week 2. We’ll work on that as a theme for this week’s The Good, The Bad, and The Probable.


The Good:

The Northwestern Wildcats know they had problems the previous week. Defenders must turn around and actually defend, vice committing Pass Interference. The O-line has to keep the QB safe for at least 3 seconds. The team has to keep everything in gear and not mentally check out of the game after getting a double digit lead.

The Sun sets; the opening kickoff occurs and the battle is joined - Wildcats versus Commodores.

The Wildcats pounce on the Commodores starting with intercepting an attempted long bomb. That interception is followed by a solid and long offensive drive in which Colter has all day to throw the ball. Northwestern jumps out to an early lead.

And these improvements continue throughout the game. The game is never in doubt as the Wildcats bat around the Commodores until they gain a 40 point lead. Even the subs are doing damage to Vandy. For every point scored by Vanderbilt, Northwestern scores one and tries to keep the 40 point cushion until the end of the slaughter.

By the end of the game, everyone knows that the Wildcats learned their lessons well from the Syracuse game. Wildcats 45 - Commodores 10.


The Bad:

The Northwestern Wildcats know they had problems the previous week. Defenders must turn around and actually defend, vice committing Pass Interference. The O-line has to keep the QB safe for at least 3 seconds. The team has to keep everything in gear and not mentally check out of the game after getting a double digit lead.

The Sun sets; the opening kickoff occurs and the battle is joined - Wildcats versus Commodores.

The Wildcats attempt to pounce on the Commodores, but miss out on an underthrown ball because the cover doesn’t turn around. (Wildcat fans worldwide do the “facepalm” thing.) The Commodores are relentless in their drive down the field to their first touchdown. On the first NU possession, Colter attempts to toss a couple of passes but is up to his eyeballs in Commodores. It is a quick 3&out. The Commodores respond quickly. And again. Things quickly go bad.

Northwestern bravely fights back over and over again. Things like Penalties, O-line like a sieve, and a D that can’t turn around quickly on pass routes means that there is no improvement over the previous week. The Commodores sink NU. And being a very frustrated SEC team, Vanderbilt unloads on NU. The final body count: NU 17 - Vandy 48. Coach Fitz hopes that the *real* biggest gain is between week 2 and week 3; if not it will be long (bad) season.


The Probable:

The Northwestern Wildcats know they had problems the previous week. Defenders must turn around and actually defend, vice committing Pass Interference. The O-line has to keep the QB safe for at least 3 seconds. The team has to keep everything in gear and not mentally check out of the game after getting a double digit lead.

The Sun sets; the opening kickoff occurs and the battle is joined - Wildcats versus Commodores.

The Wildcats attempt to pounce on the Commodores starting with intercepting an attempted long bomb. That interception results in a drive in which Colter attempts to toss a couple of passes but is up to his eyeballs in Commodores. However, he does the magic scramble thing and keeps the Cats moving downfield for a FG. The Commodores respond pretty quickly. The game quickly turns into a back and forth affair with no team gaining more than a 14 point lead on the other.

Northwestern keeps going back into the fight over and over again. Things aren’t always pretty - there are still penalties, sacks, and blown coverages, but the Wildcats keep it close enough to where they enter the 4th Quarter driving for a go-ahead TD. After scoring at the midpoint of the 4th, the Wildcat D tightens up and forces a timely turnover. Some lessons have obviously been learned by Northwestern. Vanderbilt folds and the Cats get another quick score. By this time, Vanderbilt is playing desperately. But it doesn’t matter - the Wildcats are on cruise control by the waning seconds. And being a very frustrated SEC team, Vanderbilt storms off the field after coming really close to winning, but loses. The final score: Northwestern 33 - Vandy 24.


Other Things

Did you see the beatdown that Alabama laid on Michigan? Ouch. Now the Wolverines finally understand the comfort one can get from chanting “Our SATs are higher!”

Alabama put on a clinic in how to play like a blood-thirsty team - they never really slowed down. With the game out of reach of Michigan, Bama *still* did things like kicking FGs and pushed their subs to score. Northwestern has to learn that kind of “step-on-your throat” mentality.

Go Cats!

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

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