Chris Johnson
By (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
Nov 5, 2013

There is no Northwestern game this weekend, and that’s probably a good thing for the Wildcats. It’s not so much that Northwestern is on a five-game losing streak, devoid of any trace of positive momentum and in serious danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2007. It’s that the Wildcats – victims of what seems like the most rotten injury luck of any Big Ten team – might not be able to find enough healthy players to field a team.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald read off a list of players Monday that, were Northwestern scheduled to play a game, would be considered “out” or “limited.”

Out: Defensive linemen Will Hampton, Tyler Scott, Dean Lowry and Sean McEvilly, defensive backs Nick VanHoose and Jimmy Hall, linebacker Collin Ellis, receiver Tony Jones and running backs Mike Trumpy, Stephen Buckley, Warren Long, Treyvon Green and Venric Mark.

Limited: Offensive linemen Jack Konopka and Brandon Vitabile, Defensive backs Ibraheim Campbell and Traveon Henry, tailback Tim Hanrahan and defensive linemen Ifeadi Odenigbo and Deonte Gibson.

Did you count up all the names? There are 20 (13 out and 7 limited)…which is kind of insane.

The good news for Northwestern is that it’s not playing this weekend. The Wildcats can use the bye week to rest, work with the medical staff and hopefully, for their sake, trim these lists to more reasonable numbers.

Some of these names probably don’t surprise you. Stephen Buckley and Venric Mark, for example, are unlikely to play again this season, and cornerback Nick VanHoose left Saturday’s game with what appeared to be a concussion. Others, like Tyler Scott and Jimmy Hall, are more surprising.

So in case you weren’t convinced the bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Wildcats – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, considering the tailspin Northwestern is enduring right now – surely you are now. The Wildcats were the healthiest team in the Big Ten last year. Now? If they played a game this weekend, they’d barely resemble the team that arrived in Evanston this summer for preseason camp.

Blaming Northwestern’s five-game losing streak on injuries misses the point – the Wildcats haven’t played their best football since the third quarter of the Ohio State game ended. At full-strength or not, there are plays the Wildcats didn’t make, missteps they committed, that help explain why this season has gone far worse than most expected it would.

Injuries may be one issue. They are not the only one.

  • Chairman

    Don’t know where else to ask this, but does anyone know whether Brandon Lee cleared admissions? I know he cancelled visit at last moment and I understand NU (maybe all schools) doesn’t host official visits unless the player has been cleared by admissions.

    • Chris Johnson

      I have no knowledge of that, sorry.

    • Mark Wheaton

      Seems like a moot point as he has eliminated NU from his list of prospective schools.

    • DepaulNU

      That makes a lot of sense as to why the sudden drop of a visit. Though on twitter be never seemed to high on the cats.

  • Henry in Rose Bowl Country

    Perhaps top programs get bigger, better, more durable athletes and schools like NU get what’s left. Everyone questioned whether Mark and Colter could last being used the way they were. If Mark was 30 pounds heavier and Colter hadn’t hurt his shoulder they wouldn’t even be at NU. When you’re basically undersized and thin things like this happen. And still after all this with a better coaching and execution we could be 7-2.

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