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Northwestern Snippet and Stat 9/24

by Jonah Rosenblum (@jonahlrosenblum)

SNIPPET OF THE DAY: Setting Their Goals High

There was a subtle change in the auditorium of the Nicolet Center on Monday, one that went virtually unnoticed by the dozen-odd reporters that filled the room for Northwestern’s weekly press conference. A polished sign, which displays the team’s goals for the season, had a new addition. Where before there was simply the line, “Consistently Prepare for Victory,” there was a newer goal tacked on, a more concrete goal: “Win the Legends Division.”

Redshirt junior linebacker Damien Proby hardly seemed fazed by the change.

“That’s our goal as if anyone wouldn’t know at this point anyway playing in the Big Ten is to win our division,” Proby said. “We’re all competitive and we’re all trying to win.”

Who uncovered the goal or why it was uncovered this week remains a mystery, perhaps to be revealed later this week, but certainly the Wildcats’ chances of winning the Legends Division have never seemed greater. Iowa has looked horrendous, perhaps never more so than in its loss to Central Michigan. Michigan also has two losses. Michigan State and Nebraska each have a loss, and the Spartans looked particularly shaky against Eastern Michigan. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers will play for the division in Evanston on October 20, giving Northwestern a decided home-field advantage. Of only two umblemished teams in the division, the Wildcats are the far more trustworthy commodity.

More to the point, Northwestern’s goal not only remains unchanged, but its way of getting there remains unchanged as well. The only way to win their division is to win in the Big Ten, and that begins with a home game against Indiana on Saturday.

“The fact that the goal was uncovered means nothing to us honestly except that we’re going to focus on this game here,” Proby said. “Our first step to winning our division is going through Indiana, so that’s what we’re going to plan to do this week.”

STAT OF THE DAY: Does Size Matter?

Indiana boasts a noticeably small offensive line, particularly when compared to the gentle giants that make up Northwestern’s offensive line. All five offensive line starters for the Hoosiers weigh in at fewer than 300 pounds, and Indiana has only one 300-plus-pounder in its two-deep, compared to the four 300-pound-plus men holding up the Wildcats’ offensive line. Northwestern’s far bigger offensive line includes three 310-pounders in Brandon Vitabile, Brian Mulroe and Patrick Ward and a 315-pounder in Chuck Porcelli. In contrast, Indiana’s heaviest starter, Charlie Chapman, weighs in at just 299 pounds. The Hoosiers’ linemen are also much shorter, with their three interior linemen each standing in at 6-foot-2. All of the Wildcats’ starting linemen are at least 6-foot-3, with Patrick Ward standing in at 6-foot-7. Whether or not Northwestern’s defensive line will be able to exploit this size difference and bully Indiana’s diminutive offensive line remains to be seen, but defensive tackles Brian Arnfelt (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) and Will Hampton (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) are both significantly bigger than any of Indiana’s interior linemen. Expect them to rely on their strength to try to get to the quarterback. In other words, expect a hard shove or two.