In anticipation of Saturdays
glorified practice in front of about 38 people much-anticipated spring game in front of a packed Ryan Field, Sippin' On Purple will be taking a look at each position on the field.
First up, quarterback.
For most programs, losing a quarterback as good as Dan Persa would be cause for concern, but for at least a decade Northwestern has been able to find a new QB to succeed in the starting role. From Zak Kustok to Brett Basanez to C.J. Bacher to Mike Kafka to Persa, someone else is ready to go. And this year, Kain Colter appears to be the man for the job.
Before spring practices started, Pat Fitzgerald stated quite clearly that "if we're playing Saturday, Kain's starting" and when asked if Colter would see any time at wide receiver like he did last year, replied by saying "not in the spring. He's a quarterback."
So there you have it. It would appear, barring injury, that Colter, and only Colter, will be under center for the season opener against Syracuse.
As a true freshman, Colter showed promise as a runner but was a non-factor as a passer, completing just 3 of 9 pass attempts in the three games he appeared in. But last season his passing improved dramatically, as he connected on 67% of his passes and averaged more than 8 yards per attempt. His perfect downfield strike to Jeremy Ebert against Nebraska is the throw all Northwestern fans will remember from the 2011 season.
While there is cause for optimism in the passing game, where Colter really shines is as a runner. He ran for 654 yards and 9 touchdowns last year, and averaged nearly 5 yards per carry, an extremely impressive total for a college quarterback (sacks count against rushing yard totals). Colter was often inserted into games to give Persa a rest, and he was usually able to gain solid yardage despite the defense basically knowing a run was coming. Colter has excellent speed in the open field and the ability to gain an extra yard or two after contact, a skill that should prove useful in short yardage situations.
Trevor Siemian, who showed off a cannon arm in limited duty last season as a redshirt freshman, figures to be the backup. And let's hope he's ready, because between all of Colter's running and what figures to be a suspect offensive line, Colter may get knocked out of a game or two.
Redshirt freshman Zack Oliver and walk-on P.J. Carollo should compete for the third string spot.