Quick Thoughts On Northwestern-Syracuse

Sep 1, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Demetrius Fields (8) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Well, I had been hoping Northwestern's season opener would tell us a lot about a team that was difficult to gauge this offseason. Would a young, talented team be good this year, or bad? There's no worse way to answer that question than a one-point victory. Northwestern was massively outgained and earned a dubious penalty to keep the decisive drive alive, but got the W. The win is very, very nice, but the game leaves NU's fanbase with just as many question marks as we had going in.

Here's my bulletpoints after some reflecting, although I still haven't rewatched the game (that will come later)

  • I'd be up in arms about Northwestern's "quarterback controversy", but I suppose two talented quarterbacks is a good problem to have. My thoughts coming into the year were that Kain Colter was miles ahead of Trevor Siemian and that the coaching staff wouldn't shake Colter's confidence by benching him at times; that clearly was very wrong. Colter looked alright passing the ball, making most of the passes he needed, but Siemian came in and finished the job admirably. Let's not make it seem like Colter had a bad day - 14-for-21, two touchdowns, no picks, could have been better if not for some dropped passes - but he wasn't the star we expected. Siemian might be the guy.
  • The Cats, they are cardiac. NU actually was up 22 at one point, but we'll forgive anybody who doesn't remember that.
  • I drunkenly wrote and tweeted that Northwestern's got away with this one because of the late hit call that gave NU a fresh set of downs on their final drive. That call wasn't the one that you want deciding the game, but the real reason NU got away with one wasn't that call. Syracuse had 597 yards of offense, coming which is a few passes from doubling up Northwestern's 337, but 14 points off of turnovers and a special teams score made this a game. Sure, Syracuse got great field position early on the botched punt, but they didn't capitalize while Northwestern found paydirt on both Yakety Sax Orange turnovers. It's difficult to imagine Northwestern gets several touchdowns on sheer luck every week, but quite likely they continue to give up lots of yards defensively.
  • On that note, can somebody .GIF Chi Chi Ariguzo's scoop-and-score? The whole thing is really mesmerizing, from nobody knowing what was going on to Ryan Nassib's half-hearted attempt at making a play against seven Northwestern defenders to Chi Chi's extremely blasé reaction to a highlight TD most defensive players dream about.
  • The analysis that Northwestern's passing defense would be problematic was no joke. 470 yards passing! Holy smokes! Someone's gonna hit five hundo against the Cats this year. There was A bad pass interference call, but there were MULTIPLE legitimate ones, not to mention two plays where our guys just, you know, kinda fell over instead of defending passes.
  • Venric Mark, hoo boy. What a game from him, running, returning, receiving, the whole shebang. Nobody else even looked passable in the run game - in part because of poor blocking - but Mark was all that and more. I totally called his punt return TD, BTW.
  • I'd make a great Division I punter, because my leg isn't strong enough to outkick the coverage. DO NOT OUTKICK THE COVERAGE WHEN VENRIC MARK IS BACK THERE.
  • The right side of Northwestern's line needs some work. Jack Konopka and Chuck Porcelli weren't giving NU's quarterbacks much time and the running game was getting slaughtered for the most part.
  • Kyle Prater really isn't starting, huh? Only two catches for 11 yards.
  • Northwestern's uniforms look great, but boy, is it hard to pick up uniform numbers on those babies. I'm not the only one having trouble: the official scorebook credits Northwestern's only tackle of the day to Tyler Scott (97) when it was actually Sean McEvilly (67) and ESPN's box score gives defensive end Quentin Williams (88) a 12-yard reception that belonged to Mike Jensen (80), who actually plays offense.
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