Well, I had been hoping Northwestern's season opener would tell us a lot about a team that was difficult to gauge this offseason. Would a young, talented team be good this year, or bad? There's no worse way to answer that question than a one-point victory. Northwestern was massively outgained and earned a dubious penalty to keep the decisive drive alive, but got the W. The win is very, very nice, but the game leaves NU's fanbase with just as many question marks as we had going in.
Here's my bulletpoints after some reflecting, although I still haven't rewatched the game (that will come later)
- I'd be up in arms about Northwestern's "quarterback controversy", but I suppose two talented quarterbacks is a good problem to have. My thoughts coming into the year were that Kain Colter was miles ahead of Trevor Siemian and that the coaching staff wouldn't shake Colter's confidence by benching him at times; that clearly was very wrong. Colter looked alright passing the ball, making most of the passes he needed, but Siemian came in and finished the job admirably. Let's not make it seem like Colter had a bad day - 14-for-21, two touchdowns, no picks, could have been better if not for some dropped passes - but he wasn't the star we expected. Siemian might be the guy.
- The Cats, they are cardiac. NU actually was up 22 at one point, but we'll forgive anybody who doesn't remember that.
- I drunkenly wrote and tweeted that Northwestern's got away with this one because of the late hit call that gave NU a fresh set of downs on their final drive. That call wasn't the one that you want deciding the game, but the real reason NU got away with one wasn't that call. Syracuse had 597 yards of offense, coming which is a few passes from doubling up Northwestern's 337, but 14 points off of turnovers and a special teams score made this a game. Sure, Syracuse got great field position early on the botched punt, but they didn't capitalize while Northwestern found paydirt on both Yakety Sax Orange turnovers. It's difficult to imagine Northwestern gets several touchdowns on sheer luck every week, but quite likely they continue to give up lots of yards defensively.