Yeah, yeah, yeah, enjoy the first and last Mike Kafka pun in the history of this blog. I needed to have at least one, and I needed to do it fast. Unless dude gets arrested, and I have to bust out "The Trial", there ain't gonna be no more, so, let's get this out of our system. Hey, everybody! I got jokes! We're smart and go to Northwestern, and we like high-brow philosophy humor!
Anyway, moving on, I needed to bust out my Kafkaesque humor in a relevant fashion, and I don't think there's anything more metamorphos-y than a generic preview of a football team losing a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and like, our long snapper. (Pour some drank out for Phil Brunner, folks.)
I mean, change happens constantly in college football, we all know that but NU loses a ridiculous amount of experience, and it just so happens to be at the three positions where your average casual football fan can judge talent: we lose our third-year starting quarterback, and his entire corps of starting wideouts, and our senior running back who had been busting out 100-yard days since he got to Evanston as a true freshman. (And his backup, but, nobody really cares.)
And now? Well, some people are worried. NU optimists are getting to the point where they're starting "NU should expect a bowl game every year" talk, and, to be honest, in a world where the top 7 teams in the Big 11 go south (or to Detroit) every Christmas, and all you need is six wins, and folks like Towson be showing up on the schedule, we probably should be talking like that. And these same people see a huge blip on the NU bowl radar in a team missing veteran experience at the most noticeable positions on the field.
I, for one, am not worried. This post is going to be really vague, because, damn, I just founded a college sports blog in June, and have three months of detailed content to come up with and can't use up all my good analysis in one post, but, I'm optimistic about this season. I think this team is bowl bound, fingers crossed, pencil us in for 7-8 wins. As the summer goes on, I'll break down the schedule, and go position by position, but for now, let's just keep it basic.
We return 8 of 11 from one of the better defenses in Northwestern history, and the fact that one of them - Kevin Mims - is leaving just means that Vince Browne, who, for the record, is a freakin monster, will be unleashed full-time upon opposing front lines. This leaves us with returning talent at the corners, the safeties, a speedy, young linebacker corps, and although our defensive line loses two of its four, including likely Detroit Lion John Gill, we still have, like, Corey Wooton and Vince Brown at the ends. What I'm saying is, get your weight up, Miami of Ohio.
As for offense, if nothing else, Mike Kafka will be way more entertaining to watch than anybody in recent Wildcat history. I mean, come on. He's got a stronger arm than CJ Bacher, runs like a mofo, and plays with approximately 8 times the reckless abandon that anybody should. If we use him as a true, dual-threat quarterback like we did against Minnesota, and not like a "HEY HEY EVERYBODY HE'S THE QUARTERBACK AND HE'S TOTALLY NOT GOING TO RUN A QB DRAW THIS TIME LIKE HE DID THE LAST SIX PLAYS" like we did against OSU and in bits against Michigan and Illinois, I'm tentatively excited about our chances. Sure, Steph Simmons/Jeravin Matthews/Alex Daniel is a big dropoff from Tyrell, but, that's not going to be the most integral part of our offense anyway. And, for the haters, you have to remember that a team without Bacher and Sutton beat a ranked Minnesota squad last year, and a team without Sutton womped on Illinois. And although, yeah, Steph Simmons didn't bust out 140 yards in any of those games, nobody complained, because, you know, we won.
This year, we have a ridiculous defense, Mike Kafka and whatever happens on offense, and our out of conference schedule consists of Syracuse, Miami (OH), and rumblings from inside the athletic department tell me that we've replaced Eastern Michigan and Towson on the schedule with home dates against the surviving members of the XFL's Los Angeles Xtreme and a lucky co-rec intramural flag football team to be named later. Not to get cocky, because as NU fans, we really should never go into a game expecting a win, but, we really shouldn't drop any of those games. If we hold our own against our Big Ten opponents, or even do a little bit less than holding our own, this team should end up with 7-8 wins.