Northwestern, which was picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the Legends side of the Big 10 in an unoffiicial media poll, is 2-0 and will be facing Boston College in Evanston on Saturday.
I’m hearing that the Northwestern coaching staff believes it has its best team in the last decade, though, so it’s hard saying what is going on here. The Wildcats beat Nebraska last year, though they finished 6-7 for the season. They lost six starters on offense and five on defense. They beat Syracuse and Vanderbilt the last two weeks, and if they would follow that with a win over Boston College on Saturday, the Coyotes would be playing a Northwestern team with emerging expectations. Higher than normal, anyway, based on beating three legit FBS schools in preparation what looks to be a down year for Big 10 football overall.
Quarterback Kain Colter is a returning starter though he shared time last week in the win over Vanderbilt with Trevor Siemian. Siemian led fourth-quarter drives in both wins so far.
Venric Mark, a 5-8 running back, has rushed for a total of 205 yards in two games for the Wildcats.
USD coaches would tell you the biggest issue would be dealing with the Northwestern defensive line. Usually the academic schools — Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern, etc., have much more success building strong offensive lines than on defense, but this year appears to be an exception.
The Coyotes will be receiving $325,000 for the privilege of playing the Wildcats.
This week USD has began official preparation for Northwestern, but with more individual scrutiny.
“We’re working to defend the plays that gave us problems against Montana and Colgate a little more this week because we have some extra time,” Glenn said Wednesday. “Individually on offense we’re going to be working on fundamentals. We’re really trying to analyze and make our kids see what they need to see — a picture is worth a thousand words.
“We’re looking at a lot of tape on the Wildcats, coming in at 7 and getting to work, but we’re spending a little more time in individual instructions this week. We’re working on getting better technique, especially on defense. Our tape of the last two games is out there. People are going to see it and think we’re not sound on defense. I’d say we’re sound, we just have to get things ironed out. We have some young kids.”
On defense Tyler Starr has been out of practice this week with a sprained ankle, though he’s expected to be ready to go by Sept. 22. Starting outside linebacker Ryan Hillier was wearing a shoulder brace, but was in uniform on Wednesday. He is not expected to miss the Northwestern game.