Entering this game, Hull had 8 carries for 15 yards on the season. Splitting reps with current starter Drake Anderson today, he finished with 221 (!) yards and 4 (!) touchdowns. Today was a coming-out party for the true freshman Hull, and with both Isaiah Bowser and Kyric McGowan out for what looks to be the remainder of the season, the freshman RB could play a significant role in the team’s final two games.
Northwestern tallied zero penalties for zero yards on the day, both season lows. While the game was far from clean at most aspects on the field, the ‘Cats were focused and disciplined, keeping their penalty yardage well short of their 58-yard season average. If this is something they can keep up, it will help a lot as the team looks to upset two solid opponents in Minnesota and Illinois in the final weeks of the season.
Northwestern held UMass to just 6 of 19 on third down, holding their own consistently to get big stops when needed. These stops included two red zone stops early on in the game, keeping UMass out of the endzone and forcing them to kick. The defense also forced two turnovers on downs to add to their strong day.
Honorable Mentions: Trey Finison’s kickoffs, freeing Jason Whittaker, Drew Luckenbaugh’s onside kick, UMass punter George Georgopoulos’s awesome name, winning, sneaking Malört into the press box, blocking kicks, Ray Niro
In the first quarter alone, the Minutemen had two takeaways, intercepting Aidan Smith twice. Northwestern’s turnover troubles didn’t stop there, as the ‘Cats gave the ball up in the third quarter after a botched end-around handoff to Berkeley Holman, along with two other fumbles that the ‘Cats were luckily able to recover.
Turnovers have seemed to be a problem for NU all season, and if they want to have any chance to win their next two, they’re going to want to limit them as much as possible — the next two opponents are going to be a little bit better than UMass.
Of the 217 passing yards the defense gave up against the Minutemen, 78 of them were in the first quarter alone. Offensively, NU had 86 yards of their own with nothing to show for it at the end of the quarter (due in part to two Aidan Smith interceptions). Although the ‘Cats were able to gain momentum with a solid second quarter, they came out very flat against arguably the worst team in the FBS.
Against a team that averages 164 passing yards per game, Northwestern’s pass defense gave up 217. While this isn’t an awful performance (they still held them to six points), it was still a bit lacking, especially given the standard set by the unit’s performances from earlier in the season.
Honorable Mentions: The spread, playing Hunter Johnson, the quarterback rotation in general, any receiver not named Riley Lees, the student section, UMass football