It appears our plans of getting the easiest four out of conference opponents possible so we're 4-0 in our non-conference slate, has, uh, backfired.
I admit, I have to take some of the blame: the lack of preview posts this week is pretty much the only difference I can think of between this week's loss and the wins in the first two weeks. I'll get on it this week.
First off, thanks to everybody who commented last night. I, sadly, didn't comment as much as I should've because my iPhone reception was spotty where I was, but, this will change next week. Trust me. Big things poppin around here.
This was an extraordinarily frustrating team. I'm not going to say we were the better team, because we weren't, but it was a very winnable game, and about 40 little things we should've done made it a loss.
Mike Kafka. The man played pretty much the best game I've ever seen from a college quarterback... except for one throw, at the exact worst time he possibly could've thrown that one throw. Look at his stats before his final throw of the game: 35-41 passing, 390 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, 5 sacks for -37 yards, then 8 rushes for 30 yards and a touchdown, and one reception for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, his stats turned out to be 35-42 with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Which came on the last drive of the game. Tragic, considering how great a game he had, that he's the goat. When after an entire game of beautiful precision passes for short yardage and the occasional strike downfield to receivers that just happened to find a seam in the defense - the man completed his first 16 freaking passes - and he proved he could run after a long hiatus where he refused to, and even more exciting, he showed his ability to do the Mike Vick in Madden 2004 play, which is running towards the line of scrimmage, forcing any linebacker and cornerback to cheat up a little bit and try and keep him from busting out a 40 yard run, and then dropping a pass to the receiver inevitably left open by that cheating up. However, all this is forgotten, as he threw a pick that ended NU's chances of winning the game in regulation, and pretty much sealed the loss.
Also, he needs to learn how to take a sack and not fumble, though. Desperately. That first play from scrimmage on offense really cost us the game.
Defense. Most football teams try to have one, but Northwestern has made a controversial decision not to have one this year, after an offseason of talking about how great our defense would be, no less. Yeah, I know two of our top four cornerbacks were injured and something called a Demetrius Dugar was left to cover Mike Williams, one of the best receivers in the country, at times, and David Nwabuisi replaced a proven linebacker in Nate Williams (and played pretty well, to be honest), but this was an abhorrent defensive effort. First off, Greg Paulus had our defense on SKATES. He pump faked, everybody bit. He faked a handoff, hey, everybody bit again. He ran a few yards towards scrimmage, hey, everybody's pretending the guy they should cover doesn't exist and just leaving that mofo as wide open as humanly possible. Whenever NU defenders had a choice to make, it seemed like they always, always made the wrong one.
Kicking. Earlier, I wrote a post about NU kickers, and how poorly timed NU's missed PAT's are.
Demos and Villarreal have combined to miss four extra points in the past two years. Not a lot, considering how many opportunities they have to shank them. Well, I'm proud to report that of five games Northwestern has lost in the past two years, three prominently feature missed extra points, and two - this one, and the Alamo Bowl last year - would have been Northwestern victories in all likelihood if not for shank jobs.
It's so frustrating. Demos nailed a game-winning 49-yarder last week, with enough juice on it to be a 55-yarder. This week, a 19-yarder essentially cost Northwestern the game. WHY CAN'T YOU MISS THESE WHEN WE'RE BEATING TOWSON BY 40?
Jacob Schmidt and Arby Fields actually played decently, especially Schmidt. But it's pretty freaking disappointing that the injury bug hit so hard at running back, where we needed some sort of spark just for an extra few yards here or there.
Great game by our receiving corps. Demetrius Fields had pretty much the only drop, and they were pretty much always open. Our superback corps looks like a talented unit, and if they can play like this, I'll be pumped.
I was so glad to see the Brewer pass, because I knew it had to happen eventually, after how we used Eric Peterman last year. That play can be devastating week after week. Worst comes to worst, it's just a screen to Brewer for a few yards. Best comes to best, it looks like it did yesterday.
The playcalling was a lot better this week, so that's good. We ran an actual offensive gameplan. That's good.
Basically, if we get healthy and our defense is half as good as it was supposed to be in the preseason, this team can still make a minor bowl. But it's looking bleak. Really bleak. Memphis Bleek.
We have Minnesota next week. I highly suggest you keep coming back to the site, because really, really, really cool things are going to happen in the next week. No hints, but, really cool things.