Its gut check time for the Northwestern Wildcats football team. Do they have the grit, toughness, and willingness to be relentless for 60 minutes of football? Only time will tell, and these should be the only 3 things to be overly concerned about for the development of this football team. We know this can be a good football team, but "can" is for losers.
You block, tackle, pitch and catch — it's a pretty simple formula to win football games. However, this week it's even more important. If the past three weeks have shown us anything, it;s that Northwestern has not been able to do any of these with regularity for an entire game. Everyone whined about the offensive game plan, myself included. Sure they weren't great, but Northwestern can still win football games with that game plan if they simply execute. In order for any Wildcat fan to have any hope or optimism for the remainder of the season, we have to see the Cats come out and just play disciplined, polished football.
2. Response to Adversity
We will know just how well this team is able to respond by the first respective drives of the offense and defense. If they're flat, its going to be a long, long miserable season. There should be no reason a team coming off of two losses comes out flat. They should be hungry and I full expect them to come out guns blazing. If we see a two-score lead at the end of the first quarter, things may be looking up.
3. Coaching Style
How aggressive of a style will we see? I know execution has been harped on a ton in the past two weeks, but sometimes the best answer to have guys make plays is to flat-out coach and play-call aggressively. I'm sure we wont see too many different wrinkles than what we've seen thus far in the season, but perhaps the staff plays a lot of defensive pressures and what little attacking offensive calling we've seen through two weeks of play. Be very cautious if we see play calling that looks like we are repeatedly banging our head against a brick wall expecting the next blow to pound through it.
As meaningless this game is on a national or even regional level, it should mean a lot for the development of this team. If they are able to execute better, catch and block, we might see a rout and by all means every fan should expect that, if you aren't, you're doing this program a disservice. All I want to see is a polished looking team ready to make some moves in the B1G schedule. If they cannot do that, they may turn into the "Sultans of Suck" in my book.