Northwestern Wildcats Spring Football Wrap Up via Big Ten Nation


The Northwestern Wildcats made a solid run last season until Dan Persa suffered a season ending injury. The pesky Wildcats are looking to be more than just that this season–this is a team that has hung around the middle or bottom of the Big Ten for too long, and now they are primed to make the jump. If Dan Persa can come back healthy this season, this is a Northwestern team you cannot rule out.

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The Northwestern Wildcats wrapped up their spring practice last Saturday with their annual spring game. Many players did not play due to either injury or the coaches held them out, so it is a little tough to read into the teams strengthes and weaknesses after the spring game.  This team has the potential to be a force this season in the Legends Division.

While Starting QB Dan Persa did not play due to the fact he is still returning from an injury suffered last year in the upset of Iowa, the three QB’s all vying to back him up did.  My guess is that the number two guy on the depth chart this fall will be Kain Colter, due to the fact that he played  very good in the bowl game, and nearly led the comeback against Texas Tech, and is also more of a dual threat than the others.  However, Evan Watkins could also be in the mix for the back up job this fall.

At running back, the Wildcats must find a capable runner other than Dan Persa.  Persa took way too many shots last season as a QB, and a good share of those came because he was Northwestern’s best runner.

While I believe that sophomore running back Adonis Smith has the most potential of the Wildcat’s running backs, it looks as if fellow sophomore Mike Trumpy is going to get the nod for the beginning of the season.  A possible concern will be how Trumpy carries the ball, as he is coming off a fractured wrist which could lead to more fumbles this season.

Another possible wrinkle added this season is the pistol formation.  Northwestern practiced using the pistol during the spring in an effort to increase rushing production.  The pistol formation could really benefit a team like Northwestern, who has struggled to get much of a ground attack from its running backs in recent seasons.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald feels that the Wildcats will be better on defense this season.    Northwestern better hope he is right as they seemed to fade late in games last year, and playing in what looks to be a wide open division this year, they won’t be able to afford such miscues again this season if they hope to get to the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

Northwestern has a legitimate chance of making it to the championship game this year, because they return a ton of talent from last year, and nobody else in the division is without a ton of question marks.  If Northwestern correctly addressed their weaknesses this offseason, they have a chance to get double-digit wins this year, especially with a fringe Heisman candidate at quarterback.