Seriously. 35-14? Man. I don't think I can ever predict NU to lose again if I'm that creepily accurate.
- I think that game should end any speculation that Mike Kafka isn't a superb quarterback. Let it be noted, and marked down for Northwestern football history, that the 2009 Northwestern Wildcats offense is essentially just Mike Kafka. He's had his ups and downs, and he's got a tendency to come through with those weird picks from time to time, but, yesterday was shades of '08 Minnesota for a quarter and a half. No offense to C.J., who was also a good QB, but I think Northwestern is probably in a better place right now if Kafka had been starting since 2006, even if he clearly wasn't ready when he took the field back then.
- Now on to Dan Persa: you can't be mad at the guy. All things considered, coming out in your first real college football experience and going 14/23 against Penn State and busting out some 20 yard runs is pretty good. Unfortunately, he isn't ready to be a quarterback at this level, and it's sad that he looks bad for coming in in that exact moment. The offense sputtered because he's not Mike Kafka, but you can't blame him: that's a terrible situtation for anybody to be in. If Persa learns to be a little more comfortable back there (and learns how to consistently hit guys on five yard routes accurately), I'm not concerned for the future. But as of now, he seems unsure as to how to recognize where the pass rush is at any given time and he's 90% on our dink-and-dunks, and because those are such short plays, you have to be 100% on them. It would've been nice to see him show a little bit of the confidence in his arm he showed in the last five minutes of the game for his entire time in the game, but, hey, you win some, you lose some by 21 in the final quarter.
- No complaints with the NU defense. With Ricky Weina et. al. starting against a No. 12 opponent, the fact that we were somewhat dominant defensively for three quarters is really all you can ask. I'm not sure whether you attribute the complete falling apart in the last quarter to the fact that a) we sort of gave up after the first one b) Penn State adjusted to our defense and exploited it or c) our offense couldn't get a first down and left the de on the field for like 20 straight minutes, but whatever it was, I'll take it as a tragic anomaly from what was generally a good defensive day.
- I mean, think about it: our defensive line constantly had pressure on Daryll Clark. Evan Royster and the vaunted Penn State ground game didn't bust out a run of more than five or six yards for the entire first three quarters, and generally didn't get past the line. And only on their touchdown drive were they consistently passing downfield. And then came the flood.
- I wrote about this after Michigan State: it's absurd that there's nobody on this team capable of catching a kickoff. It doesn't have to be somebody fast back there. It just can't be Jeravin Matthews or Stephen Simmons. I'm not sure what happened to these guys, because they were both pretty good kick returners in years past, and Simmons busted out a good one today, but you need guys who can do the most basic aspect of the returning of kicks: the catching of kicks. I'd rather have an o-lineman back there catch it and sprint four yards to the 12 than a speedy RB who might bust out a 30 yard return, but might also drop it and have it picked up by the other team one in every ten times.
- I thought I'd never see Stefan Demos complete a pass after the sideways sprinting 10-yard shovel pass of glory against MIami of Ohio, but the fates had different plans. Demos' heroics under fire will go down in kicker/punter history as one of the finest fluke plays in bobbled snap history. Demos turned what would have been Penn State 1st and goal and a play that would've ended the game early for the Cats into an NU first down. We who are about to watch you continue to kick rugby style punts salute you.
Anyways, I'm out of things to say, and deeply sad. If Kafka's back next week for Iowa...