While Northwestern won Saturday night, the Wildcats suffered major losses up and down the roster to injury. Godwin Igwebuike, Geoff Mogus, Garrett Dickerson, Kyle Queiro and Ifeadi Odenigbo all left the game with injuries, and while a couple returned later in the game, others did not. After the game, it was revealed that Queiro broke his arm and will miss significant time -- likely the rest of the regular season. In his Monday press conference, though, Pat Fitzgerald revealed just about nothing about the injuries to Igwebuike, Mogus and Dickerson. Some of the injuries will be harder to overcome than others. In order, here are the ones that hurt the Wildcats the most as they head into Big Ten play:
1. Godwin Igwebuike, Safety
Thus far, Godwin Igwebuike has been fantastic in both run and pass defense, and he's been one of the defense's top playmakers, forcing a huge fumble against Duke. More importantly, he has the speed at the safety position that Traveon Henry sometimes lacks. Overall, losing Igwebuike has major implications for the defense against both the run and the pass. That much was evident against Ball State, especially as the Cardinals running backs picked up chunks of yards at a time once he left the game. A terrific athlete who is currently considered "day to day," Igwebuike's absence would be huge against Minnesota and any other team moving forward.
2. Geoff Mogus, Left Tackle
This one's really close between Queiro and Mogus, but the fact that there's very little experienced depth at the tackle spot behind Mogus is why his injury ranks second-most important. On this week's somewhat updated depth chart, redshirt freshman Tommy Doles is listed as Mogus's backup, while Blake Hance, who has seen some playing time this year, is listed as backup right tackle. Both, though, are inexperienced options compared to Mogus -- a very experienced leader and perhaps Northwestern's best offensive lineman at the most important spot on the line. And, he has shown improvement at his new position this year. His injury seems to be more severe than Igwebuike's, as he was taken off the field Saturday night, but again, Fitzgerald told us very little.
Pat Fitzgerald press conference
Pat Fitzgerald press conference
3. Kyle Queiro, Safety
Though Queiro is listed as the backup to Igwebuike, the New Jersey native also sees a ton of time as a nickel back. He sealed the Stanford game by picking off Kevin Hogan in the end zone, and his versatility allows for guys like Igwebuike, Keith Watkins II and Marcus McShepard to rotate in and out and stay fresh. Part of the reason Northwestern has been so good defensively on third down this year has been their depth in the secondary and ability to put lots of solid defensive backs on the field in the nickel and dime packages. With Queiro out, that depth will be tested, and if Igwebuike misses time too, that means little-used reserves Jared McGee and Terrance Brown will have to step in and step up in a hurry.
4. Garrett Dickerson, Superback
This offseason, Dickerson was earning rave reviews out of camp, leading lots of people to project him as a breakout star this year. That hasn't quite come to fruition (Dickerson has just one catch this year), but the freak athlete has been solid in blocking schemes. With Jayme Taylor already out for the year with a broken ankle, this injury -- of which very little is known -- will put a lot of pressure on Dan Vitale to play basically every snap, but that's certainly not the worst thing that could happen to this team. Mark Szott, a senior, will see more of the field if Dickerson misses time.
A lot remains up in the air this week and into the future, as Igwebuike, Mogus and Dickerson all seem to have somewhat significant injuries that could cause them to miss no weeks or several weeks. Thursday afternoon's injury report will provide us with more detailed information, but may not give us definitive answers. One thing is for certain, though. The Wildcats' relatively clean bill of health to open the season has become littered with injuries, and those injuries are to four significant pieces of the puzzle.