2011 Northwestern Wildcats Football

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Northwestern Wildcats vs Eastern Illinois Football Preview


Northwestern merchandise Now is not the time for Northwestern to press its luck. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has just survived a road trip to New England and has seen his club rally ‘round its injured starting quarterback. With a Football Championship Subdivision opponent now entering town, there’s just no reason for NU to take any substantial risks.

After an impressive 24-17 win at Boston College last week, the Northwestern Wildcats will make their home debut on Saturday afternoon against the Eastern Illinois Panthers.

Backup quarterback Kain Colter, making his first career start in place of injured starter Dan Persa, completed 17 of 24 passes for 197 yards and ran for 71 yards. Persa, who ruptured his Achilles tendon last November, is still officially listed as day to day.   He is expected to miss Saturday’s game as well, and again, with Eastern Illinois as the opponent – not the University of Illinois – why would the Northwestern coaching staff try to rush No. 7 back onto the field? There would seem to be no real point in having Persa suit up for action. Not now. Not with Colter in position to gain even more valuable experience under center.


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Here’s a little more detail about the Cats’ conquest in the state of Massachusetts on September 3: Northwestern beat BC using a balanced offense.   The Wildcats had 227 rushing yards to go with their 197 yards through the air.   The Eagles struggled to handle Colter’s dual-threat capabilities and the Wildcats’ fast-paced, no-huddle attack. Northwestern didn’t always finish drives against Boston College, but the Cats clearly owned more resources and a generally more diversified offense. Another key plus is that Northwestern didn’t biff a pair of field goals the way Boston College did. The boys from Evanston, Illinois, were more efficient and made far more timely plays in the heat of competition. The Northwestern run defense was stingy in its 2011 debut.   After allowing a 69-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, the Wildcats’ D was able to hold BC to a field goal, and would give up just 35 yards on the ground the rest of the way.   However, Northwestern allowed BC quarterback Chase Rettig to throw for 375 yards.

Eastern Illinois, a member of the FCS Ohio Valley Conference, defeated Illinois State 33-26 in its opener.   Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 25 of 34 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. It is worth pointing out that Northwestern is not always convincing at home. The Cats barely fended off a depleted Central Michigan squad last season, 30-25, and then lost to lowly Purdue later in the year. If NU gets complacent, Garoppolo could exploit the Cats’ secondary. This is a time for NU to rest Dan Persa… but play with fury and focus against an FCS foe.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer


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