For the past two months, we have speculated on and on about the possible outcomes of the 2019 season. We have given you bold predictions, confident forecasts and hopeful expectations. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but now we must give you a bit of the glass half-empty side of things.
Losing three starters in the offensive line is enough of a concern on its own. Combine that with a new coach and a new quarterback to protect, and there is bound to be questions surrounding the position. New coach Kurt Anderson has proven his worth in terms of recruiting, but it is still up for debate as to whether or not he will be able to replicate that success on the field. The transition that comes with replacing three highly experienced starters (Doles, Hance, Butler) will be difficult enough to handle, and it doesn’t help that their projected replacements have combined for only 14 appearances thus far.
Starting off the season with the likes of Stanford, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State would be tough on any team. Northwestern has a history of taking a few weeks to heat up, as we all saw last year, when the same team that later won the Big Ten West lost to both Duke and Akron at the start of the season. With so many important conference games right off the bat, the ‘Cats will be forced to prove themselves early in the season if they want to defend their shot at a conference championship.
A bad history of losing to beatable teams
Again, we saw Northwestern lose to both Duke and Akron at home last season, and in the past three years, the ‘Cats have recorded losses against Illinois State, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. In 2019, Northwestern has two non-conference home games scheduled against UNLV and UMass. If history repeats itself, the ‘Cats may be looking at a dent in their record that definitely should not be there.