This week's Northwestern injury report is out, and it confirmed what we already suspected regarding the offense: Kain Colter will be available for Saturday's game, while Venric Mark is out. Colter was technically "day-to-day," but he insisted he was going to play and he was a full participant in practice. Mark didn't practice and Pat Fitzgerald had announced that he was out for the game.
Mark's absence hurts, obviously, but Colter is arguably more important for this game. Iowa has a disciplined front seven, but it has struggled with quarterbacks (i.e. Braxton Miller) that can make things happen on broken plays. Colter fits that mold. Plus, he's been the player that makes the offense go, so we should see a much-improved NU offense on Saturday.
But perhaps the biggest — at least the most surprising — news is on the other side of the ball. Sean McEvilly is not listed on the injury report, which means he's likely available for Saturday. McEvilly is NU's best defensive tackle and should help a group that has struggled mightily in his absence. The Iowa offensive line is still a step above the NU defensive line, but McEvilly's presence will be huge. With him gone, NU has not only struggled to defend the run, but also in play-action, as the linebackers and safeties have overcommitted to stop the run. Given Iowa's power running offense, combined with play-action (particularly the use of play-action in three-tight end sets) this figured to be a very bad matchup for the Wildcats. It still isn't a great one, but with McEvilly in, NU is much better off.
The full injury report is below:
Venric Mark OUT
Jaylen Prater OUT
Mark Szott OUT