Northwestern does not have a copyright on winning, nor do we have a copyright on DJ Khaled's seminal hit "All I Do is Win". In fact, last week, I overheard Auburn playing that exact same song.
But, somehow, Saturday morning, I came into possession of a purple t-shirt that says just that: "All We Do is Win" - with the Northwestern N as the last letter. And sure enough, it's sort of true: the Cats are 4-0, and although the final scoreline showed we won by five, it was a game where we simply outclassed Central Michigan. Northwestern never trailed - although we were somehow tied at halftime - and had a solid double-digit lead for large portions of the second half.
Will the hits keep coming? With NU, you never know. So, as fun as it is to be down - we didn't finish as well as we could've, our special teams game is still special, and we have 387018392 running backs that seem to be equally good at nothing in particular. But we won. Because all we do is win, win, win, no matter what.
Hit the jump.
Dan Persa threw an interception! I think it was because he was tired of being so much better than everybody else. I sure would if I had the highest completion percentage in the country. The reason I think this is because it wasn't a pass that Dan Persa normally throws, by which I mean it wasn't to somebody without anybody within eight yards of him. In fact, it was directly at a linebacker and I have no idea how or why someone who has looked as good as Persa could or would throw it. I'm obviously not worried.
- A lot of people can and will talk about Stefan Demos being bad, and it's understandable. He had a great season last year, but this year looks to be bad even by your average Northwestern kicker standards. He struggles with extra points, field goals are crapshoots, he seems less accurate than last year and must be kicking at a lower trajectory because his kicks are getting blocked at an alarming rate. (Some of the blame for these things probably rests on snaps, holds, and the o-line, but it naturally falls on Demos to the casual fan/me.) But I can say this: be glad our special teams are not those of Central Michigan. Three blocked kicks, no made field goals, and one of the worst punting displays I've ever seen - four punts for 122 yards, aka 30.5 per kick, with none longer than 37. Anything that wasn't a shank was an acceptable punt. Meanwhile, we complain about our modestly crappy kicking game and have nothing to complain about in the Brandon Williams department. We've come a long way.
- By the way, congrats to Jack DiNardo on having one of the weirdest statlines a defensive tackle can muster: zero tackles, two blocked kicks. Not sure how that happened.
- Congrats to Niko Mafuli on having one of the weirdest statlines a backup defensive tackle can muster: zero tackles, one blocked kick. Less impressive, but you take what you can get.
- Jared Carpenter is going to have to earn back his starting spot, because Hunter Bates has looked great filling in for him at safety. I'm a fan of No. 7 No. 2, or as I'd like to start calling him around here, the Doppelganger.
- While we're talking about safety minutiae, I noticed something: today, for the first time, I saw a player with No. 16 on the field at safety, and I noticed that every play I saw him on the field, Northwestern gave up a play of over 15 yards, including the 31-yard touchdown run. Look, I'm pretty sure they all weren't his fault - the touchdown was to the other side of him, he couldn't have stopped it - but I'm pretty sure this Davion Fleming player is a bad omen or something. Poor guy.
- Let's talk running backs: today, coach Fitzgerald showed me he's devoted to searching for something that works. I was beginning to worry that he would sink into a mode where, dammit, Arby Fields would be our running back for better or worse. I know there's a lot that goes into a good running game, and it's not all the running back's fault, but Arby has had an insufficient sophomore campaign thus far. His greatest aspect his speed, and yet he doesn't have the speed to make it to the edge on carries to the outside and doesn't have the strength to cut it back into a tackler or to hit it up the gut. Is Mike Trumpy the answer? He looked great in his first meaningful performance. Is Jacob Schmidt the answer? He looked nice on the one option for a touchdown, but I won't forget the fumbleitis from two weeks ago. Could Scott Concannon or Alex Daniel be the answer? As soon as any of the coaches figure out what numbers they wear, maybe. But they're looking for answers, and hopefully they'll find one.
- That being said, MIKE TRUMPY. From nowhere, one of the finer rushing performances of the post-Tyrell Sutton era, and only in one half. He showed an ability to break out decent gains when given blocking that nobody else, save maybe glimpses of Scott Concannon late last year and Stephen Simmons whenever we play crappy teams, has shown. So he'll be in the mix.
- I'm pretty sure I've never seen Drake Dunsmore get tackled one-on-one. Just sayin'. I've seen him get forced out of bounds and I've seen him get gang-tackled after like four seconds, but has anybody ever one-on-one brought him down? I don't think so.
- If you told me that Quentin Williams and David Nwabuisi would be the two guys to pick off passes for Northwestern, I'd tell you you screwed up Quentin Davie's last name and that wait, David Nwabuisi, really? Huh, cool. Nwabuisi.
- While we're talking about Quentin Davie, he had a really nice forced fumble that will slip under the radar because it wasn't another two-pick day or pick-six or some other preposterous thing Quentin Davie has a habit of doing. They might want to block him next time, by the way.
- You know what's not good? Our pass coverage. It doesn't get beat deep often, but it gets beat all the time on 10-15 yarders, and those turn into 20 yarders after a quick move. Teams don't have 347 yards passing against you by chance. Our secondary is depleted, and the day Justan Vaughn and Jordan Mabin look good enough to stop two Big Ten receivers will be the first. The NU offense is good enough that they'll keep the team in games, but this'll cost the Cats games. Especially appalling is the 150 yards they gave up in the air in the fourth quarter when they needed stops and probably could've expected the pass anyway.
- Props to the gameday atmosphere - student section was rocking, 30,000 people, and the band learned "Bad Romance". I really liked that.
- Northwestern has started using backup defensive end Tyler Scott on short-yardage plays as a tight end - I think this is kinda awesome. I fully expect him to catch a pass on a trick play by the end of the year, which is my way of saying "can you please run a trick play for him to catch a pass by the end of the year" to the coaches.