Through five games, the Northwestern offense is putting up some of its worst numbers in modern program history. The unit has battled its fair share of injuries, but it’s safe to say that not many of us predicted this poor of an offensive showing with all the preseason hype surrounding five-star transfer QB Hunter Johnson.
Here are some numbers that paint the picture of just how much this Northwestern offense is struggling thus far in 2019:
1. Points per game (129th/130)
Let’s start with basics. The Northwestern offense is averaging just 14.4 points per game, second to last in the country behind only...Rutger (14.2). Take away the 30 point outburst against the bottom-tier UNLV defense, and the ‘Cats are scoring just 10.5 ppg against the four Power Five opponents they’ve played this year. Even factoring in UNLV, the 14.4 ppg scored so far this year are by far the worst numbers NU has put up this decade. A Mick McCall offense hasn’t averaged under 20 points per game since 2015, when the team finished 114th in the country with 19.5 ppg.
2. Points off turnovers (6)
Six! Six points off of eight total turnovers forced by the Northwestern defense/special teams this year. The only time the NU offense has capitalized on a game-changing play from its defense was in essentially garbage time against Wisco when Ray Niro fell on a muffed punt and Drake Anderson punched it in six plays later. The Wildcats failed to capitalized on all five of their combined turnovers against Stanford/UNLV, and who could forget the goal line stand after Michigan State gave NU a golden opportunity by muffing a punt in the first quarter.
Pat Fitzgerald said in his postgame press conference from Nebraska that the defense needs to force more turnovers to give NU a chance in these games. While that may be true, Mick McCall’s offense doesn’t seem capable of capitalizing on them regardless.
3. SP+ offense (125th/130)
I’ll just leave this here.
This type of gap is very nearly unprecedented. Has only been matched by 2015 Texas Tech in the last five years https://t.co/oBT4Chfxff— Inside NU (@insidenu) October 6, 2019
4. Yards per game (126th/130)
At 293 yards per game, Northwestern is the worst statistical Power Five offense when it comes to moving the football down the field. Rutgers and UMass are averaging more yards per game than Mick McCall’s offense. Since the start of the decade, Northwestern has only had one offensive season in which the team failed to crack an average of 350+ yards per game (2015). For the most part, they’ve actually spent most of the decade closer to 400 YPG.
5. Total passing offense (121st/130)
Northwestern has by far the worst passing offense in the Big Ten averaging just a mere 140.4 yards per game. This is by far the worst in the conference as Illinois comes in next at 190.6 ypg.
6. Passing touchdowns (127th/130)
Army, Navy and Air Force all have more passing touchdowns than Northwestern this year! Yes, three teams that run triple-option offenses have more passing scores than the ‘Cats.
7. Completion percentage (127th/130)
The Wildcats are one of just five other teams with a completion percentage below 50 percent on the season as NU quarterbacks have connected on just 80 of their 162 attempts. The stat is particularly alarming given how many short passes and slants this Northwestern team runs as opposed to taking shots down the field.
8. Yards per attempt
Last but not least, we have to thank our friend and beloved commenter MountainTiger for sharing this one on one of our post from earlier this morning. Northwestern’s refusal, inability, whatever you want to call it to throw the ball down the field is historically bad not only for past seasons in program history, but the entire FBS.
And on that final note, happy Monday, folks! Mick McCall is still employed at Northwestern University!