Northwestern Wildcats College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Northwestern Wildcats Biggest Key: Offense
More from the downfield passing game would be nice, but that’s asking for something out of character to the overall scheme of what the program does.
Seven. That’s how many pass plays went more than 25 yards. 95 teams had 12 or more and 18 had 30 or more.
More than anything else, the offense can’t afford to make mistakes. The offense got away with turnovers against Iowa because it got bailed out by the defense, but that didn’t work after giving it up four times in the less to Michigan State. It would’ve taken something crazy to get by Ohio State, but the three giveaways didn’t help.
No, the offense can’t take a slew of big chances, and this year’s team doesn’t have the veteran receiving corps to do it. Everything worked just fine last year only averaging 10.2 yards per catch, but …
It would be nice. The offense failed to average more than ten yards per catch in four of the nine games, but good things happen to this program when there’s a tinge of a downfield air show.
It’s not asking for the world to average over 12 yards per catch – . Northwestern is 9-1 over the last four seasons – and 5-0 over the last three. when it does.
Northwestern Wildcats Biggest Key: Defense
Get … off … the … field. Few teams in college football – at least among the Power Five programs – have to own the time of possession and turnover battle more than Northwestern.
Of course every team would like to be great at third down D. Northwestern? It allowed offenses to convert 41% of the time in 2019 and came up with 14 takeaways – and the team was miserable.
Last year? 19 takeaways in just nine games and teams converted fewer than 30% of their third down tries.
It all ties together. The offense doesn’t take chances and needs to capitalize on every opportunity, and the defense has to give the O those shots. That’s going to be harder for the defense to do without a slew of top defenders from last year, which means …
Northwestern Wildcats Key Player To A Successful Season
DE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Jr.
Northwestern has got to find more of a pass rush. That’s not necessarily the style of Pat Fitzgerald to sell out and make big things happen behind the line, but it’s not totally crazy – the 2017 D generated 32 sacks.
It would be a big plus to come up with more than 1.56 sacks per game, but the Wildcats need someone to make that happen with Eku Leota off to Auburn.
Rushing the passer isn’t really Adebawore’s game – he’s a big playmaker against the run who can occasionally get behind the line when asked to – but he’s the veteran on the outside. He needs to generate more than two sacks.
Northwestern Wildcats Key Game To The 2021 Season
Michigan State, Sept. 4
It’s not like one game will prove that 2021 Northwestern can keep it all going despite the loss of so many parts from the 2020 team, but beat Michigan State for the first time in three seasons – and at home, too, in the opener – and it would be a massive moment to kick things off.
Lose, and there’s an issue in the Big Ten with road games at Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois to go along with home dates against Minnesota and Iowa to worry about.
– Northwestern Wildcats Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2020 Northwestern Wildcats Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Northwestern 31:13 – Opponents 28:34
– Rushing TDs: Northwestern 16 – Opponents 5
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Northwestern 56 – Opponents 17