College Football News Preview 2020: Northwestern Wildcats Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Northwestern Wildcats Offense
Start hitting a few downfield passes again. It was so, so painful.
The offense just didn’t go anywhere, especially after defenses had no fear whatsoever of getting burned deep. Northwestern finished dead last in the nation in yards per completion, hitting just nine yards per completion and a pathetic 4.5 yards per throw.
No one else in the nation averaged fewer than 5.2 yards per pass.
It’s not like the offense was all that great the year before with Clayton Thorson winging it around, but at least there was a wee bit of a passing game. The Wildcats went from getting over 3,000 yards through the air, to just 1,404.
How bad was it? The Wildcats failed to hit 100 passing yards in four of their last seven games.
Biggest Key To The Northwestern Wildcats Defense
The veteran defense has to come up with more big plays. The 2018 defense was a takeaway machine at times, coming up with 26 on the season with two or more in seven games.
Last year the defense came up with multiple takeaways in five games, but it only generated six turnovers in the final eight games and went through a four-game stretch with no turnovers. It only came up with one fumble recovery over the final eight games.
The program has won its last 11 games when it came up with three turnovers or more. Considering the offense isn’t going to be 2019 LSU all of a sudden, the defense is going to have to do its part to give the other side more easy chances.
Key Northwestern Wildcats Player To A Successful Season
QB Peyton Ramsey, Sr.
Or Hunter Johnson, or Aidan Smith, or Andrew Marty, or anyone who can get the miserable passing game working again. It was supposed to be Johnson last year, but he got banged around early and was never able to produce.
Johnson still might be the guy – he’s got the talent – but Ramsey is the veteran who has done it already hitting 66% of his passes for 6,581 yards with 42 touchdowns at Indiana. He also ran for 832 yards and 14 scores.
The problem? Interceptions. He threw 23 in his his three seasons, but he improved his downfield passing and was able get the team to a bowl game. At the very least, he provides a veteran option.
Key Game To The Northwestern Wildcats Season
at Michigan State, Sept. 5
This is a winnable game for a Northwestern team that has a whole lot of experience, should be far healthier than it ever was after Week One of last year, and should have a salty attitude.
Michigan State is in a rebuilding mode under new head man Mel Tucker, and in this strange season, this isn’t going to be your normal season opener, especially in the Big Ten.
The Wildcats were whacked 31-10 in last year’s meeting, but before that it won three straight in the series. Pull this off on the road, and it’ll be a big-time morale booster to show that 2019 might have been a bad aberration.
– Northwestern Wildcats Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Northwestern Fun Stats
– Passing TDs: Opponents 17 – Northwestern 6
– Punt Returns: Northwestern 8.29 yards – Opponents 2.82
– Northwestern Scoring First 3 Quarters: 118 – 4th Quarter: 78