Out with Player Grades and in with Three up, Three down, Inside NU's newest postgame evaluation. Rather than handing out grades to the different contributors, we'll give you three players (or position groups) whose stock went up and three players whose performances were disappointing. Here's the report from Week 2.
Thorson reached a career high in passing yards for the second time in three games, and was sharp throughout Northwestern’s dominant performance, averaging a whopping 12.3 yards per attempt. Thorson dropped a beautiful deep ball in to Bennett Skowrownek for Northwestern’s first touchdown and rolled from there, with nearly every pass on target and no truly bad decisions. Bowling Green’s defense isn’t great, but carving up any FBS team to this extent is impressive.
Dickerson had a breakout game, tallying career highs in receptions (9) and yards (150) against a Bowling Green defense that simply had no answer for him. Dickerson was a matchup nightmare all night, catching passes all over the field and even getting a goal-line carry (he didn’t score, but who cares). This impressive offensive performance bodes well for Dickerson’s usage in Northwestern’s all-important first two Big Ten matches, where he could be a difference-maker.
The defensive tackles
Tyler Lancaster impressed again, recording a sack and causing havoc all game. But it was Jordan Thompson who broke out, garnering a sack as well while blowing up at least two running plays. The true junior needs to continue to trend upwards for Northwestern to have a chance against either Wisconsin or Penn State.
Honorable mentions: Bennett Skowronek, Nate Hall, Paddy Fisher, the running backs, the offensive line, Charlie Kuhbander, Fitz’s shorts, the Class of 2021, Spoon University, Luke Otto
Flynn Nagel as a Punt Returner
Nagel struggled to field kicks from rugby-style punter Joseph Davidson, leading to two negative returns, a rolling 61-yard punt that sailed over his head, and four fair catches. Davidson had a good game, and it’s often difficult for returners to adjust to rugby-style punting. But Nagel is a veteran returner by now and needs to avoid being a minus for Northwestern’s special teams. Davidson is a really good punter, however, so hopefully things will get easier.
Northwestern’s ball security
Northwestern has turned the ball over frequently in the first three games of 2017. The first half was flawless, but Northwestern completely fell asleep in the third quarter and had two promising drives cut short by fumbles. On the second, Jeremy Larkin was streaking toward the end zone for an easy touchdown when he fumbled the ball at the goal line, giving Bowling Green a touchback. Northwestern absolutely has to cut out the turnovers in Madison.
Honorable Mentions: Intermediate pass defense