As you may have seen over at SB Nation, today the internets blessed us with a video of Northwestern linemen trying to catch balls from a jug machine. As I understand it, this is part of "The Wildcat Games" - the team divides up into teams and try to win silly challenges. Only I, however, am qualified to provide the analysis this video deserves.
Here, y'all, is the video:
The importance of this drill can't be stressed. Say Northwestern's top 50 punt returners get injured: Northwestern will need somebody to go back and shag kicks, and they need experience. No harm in getting some game scenarios knocked out in practice, regardless of how likely. Furthermore, EA Sports requires all programs and sports teams to do drills like this so they can accurately rank backup linemen's catch ratings. (Unfortunately, we don't have video of every player on Northwestern figuring out their "kicking power" and "kicking accuracy", which are the only two traits required for kicking.)
After the jump, a breakdown:
No. 1, Bo Cisek: Cisek actually works with the punt team as the punter's personal protector, and luckily not as the return man. Cisek uses a move many of his fellow linemen-turned-returners will use, the unnecessary dive.
No. 66, Brandon Vitabile: Northwestern's starting center. Vitabile's strategy is a favorite of little league outfielders in leagues the one time someone is actually strong enough to hit the ball to the outfield, the "run in violently, then realize the ball is going over your head", which fails, as the ball goes over his head. Another unnecessary dive, but without the rolling enthusiasm of Cisek.
No. 90, C.J. Robbins: Poor showing by Robbins, who just kinda runs a bit to the left and then looks disappointed.
No. 72, Brian Mulroe: Northwestern's starting left guard has hands! A nice catch. We know it's a catch because the word CATCH appears on the screen and Mulroe celebrates with a weird Karl Malone thing.
No. 59, Pat Hickey: The long snapper gets a hand on the ball, but unsure what to do with it besides throw it really fast between his legs, can't get a grip on it and falls backwards.
No. 97, Tyler Scott: A presumed starter at defensive end, Scott seems to know how to catch footballs, which explains how he had an interception against Rice this year. He is the only guy who seems to be able to catch a football without tumbling to the ground, as he has a pretty textbook grab.
No. 56, Will Studlien: I imagine the hardest part of catching a ball from a jug machine is judging its flight, which is backed up by the fact that nearly everybody screws it up. Studlien isn't fazed by that. He gets under the ball. But instead of catching it, he pulls the rare "bobble-and-simultaneously-fall-sideways-for-no-reason", and then lifts his arms in shame. Poor hands from the only linebacker in the competition. Surely this is a reason to formulate any sort of football opinion.
No. 75, Jack Konopka: You'd think Jack Konopka, who played Superback last year before converting to offensive line in the offseason and even had a reception, against Iowa, would have the catching thing down, but he really doesn't even come close to the ball. He mildly saunters after it, causing a coach to lift his hands up in confusion and disgrace.
No. 57, Matt Frazier: You'd think the basket catch would work, but, no.
No. 62, Taylor Paxton: Paxton gets under the ball for the most part, but then whiffs.
This leads us to one of the Northwestern football equivalent of Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen's playoff at yesterday's Masters: Mulroe and Scott, the only two linemen capable of catching, go head-to-head to the death. Mulroe appears to be shafted by an early punt which is like 20 yards away from him, while Scott shows little of his earlier catching prowess, misaligning multiple times. One would think Scott had the competition sealed after an easy catch on the third try, but Mulroe shows his patented "secure the ball while falling sideways" trick that worked in the earlier round to hang on. Scott later appears to snag one, but instead recoils and falls back while dropping it. Scott tries to steal Mulroe's falling-to-the-ground thunder, but Mulroe one-ups him by falling to the ground. All in all, they match each other with four catches before whoever was in charge of this stupid charade just goes "hey, just fight for the ball to save some time", a battle the taller, faster Scott wins with a box-out despite a late push from Mulroe.
What can we learn from this? Nothing. This was a waste of your time.