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It's hard to take away much from an easy-as-expected win over an FCS opponent, in which second and third stringers got lots of playing time in the second half, but here are a few stats and nuggets that were somewhat interesting.
- Northwestern's offense had a turnover-free game for the second time this season. But it was close. Trevor Siemien, hit after he threw, nearly had an interception, one of several close calls he's had this year. And there were a few fumbles that could have turned bad. It certainly wasn't the sharpest performance, and the Wildcats will have to clean things up for Big Ten play.
- Speaking of another area that needs some clean-up, NU got flagged five more times on Saturday. The Wildcats are averaging six penalties a game for an average of 60.5 yards. That ranks NU ninth in the Big Ten. But hey, at least we're not Indiana, which averages almost 9 penalties a game for 91 yards.
- Ok, enough negative. Shout-out again to the special teams. Seems like a broken record every week. Hopefully this keeps up all season. Jeff Budzien got the day off from kicking field goals, but kickoff specialist Steve Flaherty nailed his one attempt, a 39-yarder that had plenty of distance and split the uprights. Nice to see what he's capable of. In the punt game, Brandon Williams had a stellar day, albeit wind-aided somewhat, booming punts of 61, 55 and 54 yards, one of which was downed at the 1-yard line. Good stuff.
- Attendance was a solid 28,641, the highest NU has drawn for an FCS foe. Remember when we drew 16,199 against Northeastern in 2007? Yeah, hopefully those days are long over. We've had good crowds against Boston College and Vanderbilt so far this season. Will we break 35k against Indiana in our Big Ten opener? Here's where being ranked might have helped with the marketing.
- The defense is giving up just 72.8 yards rushing per game. That's good for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan State. We'll see if that holds up once conference play starts.
- Rashad Lawrence, who came into this season the second-most experienced wide receiver behind Demetrius Fields, has been having a real quiet year. He recorded just one catch for 12 yards against South Dakota. For the season, the junior has eight catches for 102 yards. Ok numbers, but I thought he would have been a lot more involved in the offense to date. But this might say more about the emergence of guys like Christian Jones, Tony Jones and Cameron Dickerson, who are pushing for more playing time.
- Mike Trumpy, after rushing 16 times for 106 yards and a TD against Boston College, got just four carries, all in the second half, for 10 yards. Fitz said after the game that Trumpy had been "a little banged up," and was held to limited duty. In Trumpy's place, former walk-on Tyris Jones, who has been mostly playing a fullback-type position and came into the game with just five carries, had eight rushes for 43 yards and a TD. Trevyon Green, whom we thought would be a key part of the running back rotation but has seen limited action with just nine carries coming into the game, also had eight rushes for 48 yards.
- As you would expect, a lot of guys who mostly see time on special teams or on the scout team got to play. Running back Tim Hanrahan, who mostly serves as Venric Mark's lead blocker on kickoffs, got eight carries for 31 yards in the 4th quarter. Doug Diedrick, a walk-on superback, got his first career reception on a pass from third-string quarterback Zack Oliver.
- On defense, true freshman Traveon Henry built on his solid special teams performance against Boston College, logging some time in the secondary at safety. He recorded one solo tackle and one assisted tackle. Another DNP for hyped freshman defensive end/linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo. Would have thought he'd get to see some time on the field in this game.