We're passionate about the NFL Draft
By Dwayne Wilton
The Northwestern Wilcats may be the most underrated program in the country. When most people think of Northwestern they think of a team that year and year out has a losing record. The truth is that this program has been on the rise since coach Pat Fitzgerald took over in 2006. The team has been to 5 straight bowls and last year got their first bowl win since winning the Rose Bowl in 1948. Fitzgerald has this team headed in the right direction and Ohio State had to know that they were walking into a buzz saw when they traveled to Evanston, Illinois to face the Wildcats. Both teams were undefeated coming into the game. The Buckeyes were on a 17-0 run which is the longest active streak in the FBS. Northwestern is a scrappy team that plays tough and never gives up, so the Buckeyes had to know they would be tested.
Northwestern has one of the most unique offenses in the country. They use a two quarterback system with senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian. Many teams use two quarterbacks, but few use them like the Wildcats. Colter is the starter, but at times he and Siemian are on the field at the same time. Colter lines up all over. He plays quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He is very quick and athletic and the defense has to be aware of where he is on every play. Colter can throw the ball, but when he does it’s normally short, quick passes. When Northwestern wants to attack downfield, they normally bring in Siemian. It’s the kind of attack that keeps defensive coordinators awake at night.
The Ohio State Buckeyes started off like they might dominate the game. Quarterback Braxton Miller has made major strides in the passing game since his freshman year. Now, in his third year as a starter, he has increased his completion percentage every year and this year it is up to 65.3%. Miller started off the game with four straight completions to move his team to the Northwestern 8 yard line. The Northwestern defense then stiffened and on third down Wildcat linebacker Collin Ellis tipped away a pass to force a field goal attempt. Ohio State converted on the 27 yard attempt and took a 3-0 lead. The Ohio State defense force a punt on the Wildcats first possession, however the Buckeyes gave the ball back two plays later. Miller was sacked by Northwestern defensive end Tyler Scott who stripped the ball and then fell on it at the Buckeye 23 yard line. The turnover was the spark that Northwestern needed and 5 plays later Siemian hit Colter, who lined up as a receiver, for a 9 yard touchdown. The Wildcats had their first lead of the game at 7-3. Both defenses forced punts on the next two possessions; however the Buckeyes got a big play when corner Bradley Roby blocked a punt, taking it right off the punter’s foot in the end zone. The score gave the Buckeyes a 10-3 lead. Northwestern responded with a drive that took them into the 2nd quarter. They used a balanced attack to move downfield and the big play was a 25 yard pass from Colter to junior receiver Christian Jones. Colter ran the ball in from 2 yards out to give the Wildcats a 14-10 lead. It was Colter’s second TD of the night, one receiving and one rushing.
The teams traded field goals on their next two possessions, but then Ohio State made a bad coaching decision right before the half. Faced with a 4th and 3 on their own 32 yard line, Buckeye coach Urban Meyer rolled the dice and called for a fake punt. Northwestern wide receiver Mike Jensen made a good open field tackle on the fake and Northwestern was setup deep in Ohio State territory with 3:30 left in the half. The Buckeye defense did a good job minimizing the damage, holding the Wildcats to a field goal and Northwestern led 20-13 at the half.
Northwestern got the ball first in the 2nd half and they kicked another field goal to take a ten point lead at 23-13. Ohio State moved into Northwestern territory on their first possession of the first half, but Miller had his second fumble of the game. Senior middle linebacker Damien Proby poked the ball out and sophomore defensive end Dean Lowry recovered at the Wildcat 7 yard line. Northwestern was unable to get a first down and the Buckeyes got great field position on the punt, taking over at the Wildcat 36 yard line. The Buckeyes used five running plays and one pass to get their first touchdown since the 1st quarter. Senior running back Carlos Hyde began to chip away at the Northwestern defense and ran it in from four yards out to cut the lead to 23-20.
The score remained the same until early in the 4th quarter. With 12:53 left, Buckeye junior corner Doran Grant intercepted a Siemian pass to give Ohio State great field position at the Wildcat 16 yard line. Hyde got his second touchdown of the night, to push the Buckeyes in front 27-23. Northwestern, however rallied. Simien completed a 67 yard pass to senior receiver Rashad Lawrence which set them up at the Ohio State 7 yard line. After a holding penalty, Siemian completed a 12 yard touchdown pass to Cameron Dickerson to put the Wildcats back on top 30-27. The Buckeyes took over and Miller used mostly his arm to move his team downfield. Hyde got his third touchdown of the night to put Ohio State back on top 34-30 with 5:22 left. Northwestern tried to respond, however on 4th and 1 at the Ohio State 34 yard line, the Wildcats went for the first down and the Buckeyes held. Ohio State attempted to run the clock out, but Northwestern was able to force a punt with :21 left. The Buckeye defense made one last statement, sacking Siemian on 1st down. After clocking the ball, Northwestern had one last play. Colter completed a pass to receiver Tony Jones and they attempted to lateral the ball. The ball was tipped and rolled into the end zone where Buckeye defensive end Joey Bosa fell on the ball. The touchdown made the score 40-30, but the game was much closer than the final score indicated. Northwestern had a three point lead with 9:10 left before Ohio State was able to take control the game and escape with a win.
Ohio State won their 18th in a row and maintained their #3 ranking in the polls. Many people criticize them for their soft schedule, but you can’t deny their success in the Urban Meyer era. Braxton Miller has become the leader of this team and it may not always be pretty, but they always seem to find a way to win. The good teams find a way to win even when they don’t play their best and this team does that. I’m not sure they could win against Alabama or Oregon, but it sure would be fun to watch. The Buckeyes have a home game against the Iowa Hawkeyes this week. It should be a winnable game, but it may not be easy since the Hawkeyes come in with a 4-2 record.
Northwestern dropped two notches to #18 in the polls with week. A loss to Ohio State is nothing to be embarrassed about. The Wildcats scratched and clawed the whole game. This week they will have another tough game, travelling to Madison, Wisconsin to face the Badgers. Wisconsin is coming off a bye week after losing to Ohio State two weeks ago. You can bet they will be ready to play this week.
Here are my notes on the draft eligible players that played in the game. I will start with the winning team.
Braxton Miller, QB, Jr: 3 year starter. Very much improved as a passer and has become more accurate each year. Has matured in the pocket and become more patient. Has improved at reading defenses. Big arm. When flushed from the pocket, he keeps his eyes downfield looking for a receiver. Powerful runner that can also make people miss. Great field awareness. Needs to work on ball security. Completed 15 or 26 for 203 yards and 1 INT. 17 carries for 68 yards and 2 fumbles.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Sr: Workhorse. Big, powerful inside runner. Great in short yardage and goal lines situations. Strong lower body and great leg drive. Gets stronger as the game goes on. Good safety valve receiver. 26 carries for 168 yards and 3 TD. 4 receptions for 38 yards. Dominated late in the game.
Jordan Hall, RB, Sr: Sat out 2012 with a foot injury. Missed this game with a tweaked knee. X-factor of this offense. Contributes as both a runner and receiver. Used similar to how Percy Harvin was used at Florida.
Devin Smith, WR, Jr: Extremely athletic. Has the ability to make acrobatic catches. Slips tackles when in the open field. 3 receptions for 31 yards.
Corey “Philly” Brown, WR, Sr: Leads the team in receptions. Good footwork. Finds soft spots in the zone. Gives great effort. Willing blocker. 6 receptions for 127 yards including a 38 yarder.
Michael Bennett, DT, Jr: Quick and athletic. Active and disruptive. Able to play outside or inside. Would be good as a 3 technique. 2 tackles, ½ tackle for loss, ½ sack.
Ryan Shazier, LB, Jr: Tackling machine. Always around the ball. Has the athleticism to spy on the QB. Pursues well. Tackles well in space. Good blitzer. Good special teamer. 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hurry which led to a punt.
Doran Grant, CB, Jr: Does a great job jumping the out route. Tackles well. Had 9 tackles and an interception that set up a TD.
Bradley Roby, CB, Jr: Was considered the top corner going into the season. So far has had a disappointing season. Good speed. Good special teamer. Able to return punts. Had a fantastic blocked punt, taking the ball right off the punter’s foot in the end zone. Had 7 tackles and was beat on a 67 yard catch.
Kain Colter, QB, Sr: Dual threat. Moves all over the field, playing QB/RB/WR. Throws well on the run. Very smart player that is pre-MED. Extremely athletic with quick feet. Candidate to convert to a slot receiver at the next level. Completed 12 of 12 for 98 yards. 8 carries for 16 yards and 1 TD. 1 reception for 9 yards and 1 TD.
Trevor Siemian, QB, Jr: Likes to attack vertically. Distributes the ball well. Accurate with good zip on the ball. Eludes the rush and extends plays. Completed 13 of 18 for 245 yards 2 TD and 1 INT.
Venric Mark, RB, Sr: Explosive. Dangerous in space. Quick through the hole. Small, but not afraid to lower his shoulder. Former receiver that can help out in the passing game. Able to return kicks. 17 carries for 60 yards. 4 receptions for 43 yards. Had a 36 yard kickoff return.
Mike Trumpy, RB, Sr: Power back. Good in short yardage. NFL bloodlines. Nephew of former Bengals tight end Bob Trumpy. 3 carries for 7 yards.
Mike Jensen, WR, Sr: Good special teamer. Had a great special teams tackle on a fake punt short of the 1st down. Had 2 receptions for 37 yards.
Christian Jones, WR, Jr: Comes back to the ball well. Had 2 receptions for 37 yards, including a 25 yarder.
Tony Jones, WR, Jr: Leads the team in receptions. Had 3 receptions for 23 yards.
Rashad Lawrence, WR, Sr: Monster game. Dangerous after the catch. Slips tackles in space. Had 8 receptions for 149 yards and a 67 yarder.
Jack Konopka, LT, Jr: Good movement skills. Able to pull and trap. Tough player that injured his knee in the 3rd quarter, but returned in the 4th quarter.
Brandon Vitabile, C, Jr: Mobile player that can pull and lead the sweep.
Tyler Scott, DE, Sr: Pursues straight down the line of scrimmage. 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 QB hurry. Made a great play on a sack/strip/recovery.
Will Hampton, DT, Sr: Active. Sheds blockers quickly. 1 tackle
Damien Proby, ILB, Sr: Great pursuit angles. Very smart. Reads his keys and stays at home. Always around the ball. 12 tackles and 1 strip in the red zone.
Chi Chi Ariguzo, OLB, Jr: Speedy. Former safety. 6 tackles, 1 QB hurry and 1 interception.
Collin Ellis, OLB, Jr: Team leader. Former safety. Gets off blocks. Good instincts. Has the speed to go sideline to sideline. Drops well into coverage. 10 tackles, ½ tackle for loss. Pass breakup in the red zone that led to a field goal rather than a touchdown.