Northwestern Recap 2021

Well, I tried to inform everyone of just how bad Northwestern was this year, but apparently predicting a 20+ point victory didn’t shed enough light on it. That may be the worst team i’ve ever seen Pat Fitzgerald put on the field. We were moving them around, and they were completely lost. Fordham looked better than they did. That truly was the worst team we’ve played this year. Northwestern only has two wins this year, one against Indiana State (FCS) and one against Ohio who is a bigger train wreck than they are.

I made mention in my tweet that if you were tired of the negative posts that this past Saturday would be for you. Remember the debate that our staff would say how great we are through fall camp, now our fans are seeing basically what our staff saw in practice. But take it even a step further, do we think that all of a sudden Prochazaka and Nouilli were the answers? Or Yant for that matter? What i’m getting at, is did we have absolute studs just sitting on the bench not playing resulting in us being 2-3 and having an inept offense? Or was it a little bit that we played a horrific team that was like going against our scout team? I digress.

But a lot of that had to do with Nebraska as well. For the majority of this staffs tenure, we would get our doors blown off by teams better than us, and basically play teams close when we shouldn’t. How great was it to not have to say “ya, well we just look better after a 52-17 blowout against Ohio State. Saturday was a huge step forward, and no matter how good or bad Northwestern in, 56-7 is a statement that you are a good football team. And we talked about how we needed that confidence heading into a showdown with top 10 Michigan, who will be a completely different animal. I talked in my preview about how teams defenses were really showing out this year due to the 6th year players, or seniors that got another year due to Covid. Nebraska has guys like Domann, Stille, Williams, and Dismuke which is why we are seeing lights out defense on our end. Northwestern basically lost everyone and have a bunch of new players trying to figure out how to compete against veteran teams.

And from one of the very first plays you could see it. Martinez escapes the pocket and hucks the ball deep between two defenders to our one WR and completely underthrows it, for whatever reason the one Northwestern defender tries to jump backwards and dive and catch it at his stomach while letting Toure just run in front of him and catch it:

Northwestern gets pressure, and a team like Michigan is going to pick that off if we throw into double coverage. While that play helps my “Toure will have a big day” prediction from my preview, it’s a losing play against a team that is decent. But let’s circle this back positive.

I want to give props to our staff with what they found in Brewington in the redzone. If you remember, I was really questioning if Hickman was the right person to be in the game down there, because he offers zero blocking ability and then a hint of pass catching. He was basically like inserting another WR to go block in the box. But watch what Brewington brings to the table as he’s in motion here:

But I also need to point something else out for us. Remember, not that long ago Kade Warner was Martinez’s security blanket and guys of his caliber were playing out wide. I don’t know what changed where we allowed guys like Manning and Betts on the field, but those are difference makers that even if the defense is played near perfectly, they can’t defend what our guys. This play is a great example of what i’ve been talking about the past 3.5 years with this staff. There is zero reason that a team as bad as Northwestern should be able to stay close with us. Check this play out that was defended decently by the Wildcats:

But to circle it back a bit… I just don’t understand how Northwestern got so bad this year. I get the Covid thing I mentioned earlier, but they should still have D1 football players out there. Take a look at this LB #32… where on earth is he going?

Michigan is the game where i’ll be able to know if “we were close” or not. Because this Northwestern team was basically Fordham. But it’s nice to finally take a P5 team to the woodshed and not play down to competition.

The ESPN FPI have been updated and we are not predicted to win 3 more, as they have moved Wisconsin to a probable win now instead of loss, which would get us to a bowl game.

My apologies for a short recap, but quite honestly it was tough to gain much from the film because it looked like we went against a team that didn’t prepare for us at all. They were so lost out there and when you couple that with our guys dominating them up front it made for a really long day for Pat Fitzgerald and his team.

I look forward to diving into Michigan.

8 thoughts on “Northwestern Recap 2021

  1. it was a feel good game for sure and badly needed for the confidence of the players, coaches, and even the fanbase I think. It was so good to not have to sweat out a close game..much more relaxing and enjoyable to watch for sure. This week will be a great test as the last time we played Michigan they physically abused us…will be interesting to see how we match up this time. If we can somehow, some way come out of here with a W, we might well be cooking with gas and have some momentum…but toughest game of the year for us IMO so far. GBR!

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    1. I think we match up way better not only from a personnel standpoint, but schematically. They want to run, but will they be able to? ANd they can’t throw as well. I’m excited to head to this one.

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  2. If we play clean, that is, few penalties and 1 or less TOs, we will likely win. That is a big ask against a solid team and a big ask for a team that rarely plays clean, but here’s to hoping we have some momentum and can keep playing aggressively and clean.

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    1. I’m not sure we will likely win in that scenario, but definitely gives us a great chance. I like our matchup against Michigan. But they have “better” players. Can Frost and Chinander outscheme the Wolverines? I like what i’m seeing doing some film review.

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  3. Thanks SSO. I’m really excited to see your take on the Michigan game later in the week.
    What is your take on Yant? And the RB rotation as a whole?
    Is there anything to see with Masker getting snaps instead of HH? Though I was happy for him, I hope we get to see Haarberg play this year.
    Do you think our offensive tempo directly reflects how confident SF is in beating our opponent? We played a more conservative game temp wise at OU and MSU – trying to “shorten the game” it seemed than Northwestern. Or is it home/away? Is identity more important or week to week changes based on the opponent?
    It’d be great to see another performance like this again but in reality I would just take the “not beat yourself” plays from this game. We will have a chance to win by just not committing undisciplined penalties, taking care of the ball and no glaring mistakes on ST.

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    1. I can’t figure out Yant. One of the things i’m interested in, is Yant, Prochazka, and Nouilli that big of an upgrade from what we had starting previously? Or if we would have started Piper, Benhart, and Stepp against Northwestern would it have looked similar?

      Masker getting snaps was a nice reward, I wouldn’t read too much into that. I’ve said before don’t read too much into who the #2 is right now either, what happens when the job is up for grabs is going to be the key.

      I think offensive tempo becomes a lot easier when your OL is able to move people and runs don’t get stuffed to make it 2nd or 3rd and long. Essentially, our staff couldn’t make the wrong play call on Saturday which really helps.

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  4. Nice win although I was on the road during the game so only caught the BTN 60 minute replay. Would have been so much more satisfying live but I digress.
    Michigan is going to be interesting. I’m with you I like how we match up with the Wolverines. If we can stop the run I struggle to imagine Michigan scoring points. Conversely I think our outside weapons plus 2AM’s ability to create makes us dangerous. I’m not sure they have a LB that is capable of spying like OU but if they don’t Martinez is going to give them fits. It will be physical that is for sure. We are also going to find out asap whether Prochazka and Nouili are the real deal. Should be a heck of an atmosphere. Would be a massive win for the program but damn we’ve been knocking at that door for awhile now. Would really like them to kick it in this weekend.

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    1. They’ve actually got two guys just like Oklahoma’s LB, and then their other OLB is the one that is going to be a beast to block for our tackles in Hutchinson. Their DLs lowest ranked starter is a 5.8 four star. It will be tall task for us.

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