clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

One Less Day Til Football Season 2010, Post 1: Northwestern's Quarterbacks







I'll be busting out like two posts like this a week, outlining how our team looks for next year. I highly, highly doubt I had any readers last June, so, I'll break it down for you: I'ma preview how each position looks for next year. Last year, these posts were really long and allowed me to discover that some of our ex-players were professionally employed playing American football in Finland. 

So what I'm saying is, GET PUMPED. 

(by the way, the first few lines were supposed to be the breakdown from "We Won't Get Fooled Again". Anybody pick it up? If you have a better suggestion for how to describe the breakdown from "We Won't Get Fooled Again" in letters, please post it in the comments section.)

Days left until football: 66 (Thanks, Hail to Purple!) (Also, six less than when I started last year.)

One Less Day Til Football Season, Post 1: Quarterback.

Who did it last year: Mike Kafka. Familiar, yes? He's on the Eagles now. Last year I used these posts to eulogize exiting players, this year, I used these posts to eulogize exiting players. Basically, Mike Kafka shocked errbody in the club by ditching his patented AHHH AHHHH AHH ITS TIME FOR ME TO SCRAMBLE I'M REALLY FAST method of playing quarterback and became a really consistent thrower, good for about 300 yards, a TD, a rushing TD, and .75 picks a game. And his picks generally came in bunches, i.e. five against Auburn and three against Indiana, so it was more like .25 picks a game, then four some games. Really surprising, given what we saw from Kafka. 

Who's got next: Dan Persa. He's pictured above, getting his nonsense wrecked by some guys on Illinois. 


I'm tempted to say almost the Exact. Same. Thing. I wrote last year about Mike Kafka. Dan Persa played limited minutes last year: he played garbage time against Towson, and was forced to come in and be our No. 1 QB against Penn State and for about half of the Iowa game when Mike Kafka was injured. It's weird to say this after what we saw from Kafka two years ago, but, perhaps even more than Kafka, Persa is dependent on selling his ability to scramble to open up his passing game.

He's probably quicker, but a little less elusive, than Kafka was as a runner. And if you watch his first drive against Iowa last year, he didn't even try throwing the ball until he had already established himself as somebody who could scramble before attempting a shot downfield, which turned out to be a touchdown for Drake Dunsmore

The upshot of this is that I sense he isn't very confident in his throwing ability. He has a strong arm, kinda - he threw a 72 yards TD against Towson that went about 40 yards in the air - but watching him play in spring ball and practice, he trusts his wheels more than his gun. In scrimmages, the Cats would put him in a four-wide set with one running back to protect him, and maybe seven out of ten times, he'd just bolt rather than trying to hit a receiver, and the coaches would whistle the play dead because you can't tackle a quarterback in spring ball. The spread offense means that with a competent quarterback, there's probably always going to be someone open five yards downfield. I get the sense that given the option of making a semi-difficult throw a receiver along the right sideline for a four yard gain or running, he'll run every time. 

That being said, what he showed against Penn State and Iowa is that, with the proper playcalling and with a little improvement he can leverage that into an offense good enough to be competitive against the Big Ten's best.

And hey, the people at the Rivalry broke down his game film, and seem to think he's a pretty damn good passer. Agree to disagree. 

Is that an improvement?: Nahhh, son! Not a knock on Persa, but Mike Kafka was a fantastic quarterback. One of the best any NU-head can remember. Persa has enough moxie to make Pat Fitzgerald disturbingly happy, but that doesn't give him the physical skills Kafka had last year, in my eyes. (Then again, maybe he'll improve drastically like Kafka did.)

Kafka was an accurate enough quarterback to pepper the opposing defense with those little four-yarders, left, right, slot, middle of the field, wherever. He also had the arm to throw deep balls and the speed to sell his running ability. Persa, to me, won't trust his arm enough to make those little tiny out routes that make NU's offense click. He'll run. And as good as he is at picking up those same four yards along the ground, his insistence on running might be a bad thing.

Who else we got?: There's Sippin on Purple favorite Evan Watkins, a dashing, 6-foot-6 quarterback with a silky cannon, who I thought was really sick the one time I saw him in spring ball, but it turns out is just a sorta mediocre redshirt freshman. It's an old adage that the most popular player on the team is the backup quarterback. Persa didn't inspire golden prose round these parts last year as a backup, with Watkins, all that's changed. Watkins has a stronger arm than Persa, can run - as evidenced in the spring game - he's got a good ten inches on Persa and everywhere he walks, a bed of roses springs up by his feet. He also has THE BEST HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO I'VE EVER WATCHED.

Let's break down why this is the best high school highlights video I've ever watched:

1) Usage of "Move On Up", arguably my favorite song of all time, to come back from the weird, cheesy, AWESOME, channel-surfing motif used to start off the highlights video, along with the cheesy awesome "welcome back to the Evan Watkins show" screen.

2) The two slobbering high school football analysts discussing how he's the greatest human being of all time in the beginning.

3) Ridiculously high production values.

4) VICTIM #1.

5) The fact that every time he does anything, it gets rewound along with the beat of the song.

6) The fact that Evan Watkins is 2 billion times better than anybody else playing football in any of the clips.

That's about it. 

For depth, that's it. There are two decently highly recruited true freshmen - Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter - on the roster, but Pat Fitzgerald would rather choke out a small toddler than burn one of their redshirts, and that's because he hates burning redshirts, not because he hates children. (word on the street is he loves kids.) (not in a creepy way. in a Pat Fitzgerald is top five people of all time way, and therefore loves kids.)


Next up, running backs. Until then, one less day till football season.