Offensive woes a cause for concern (Football)

Tania Ganguli

Offense hasn’t usually been the main problem for Northwestern football, but in Saturday’s loss, it was.

While there were times when the offense had chances to make big plays, the inability to execute when it mattered frustrated coach Randy Walker.

“There are some things you see that you’re doing really well and you say ‘Where’s this coming from?'” Walker said.

Walker found himself searching for answers to why his veteran-laden offense could not produce. He said scaling back the Cats’ playbook could help the team execute.

But an even bigger concern for Walker was sacks, which he considers worse than penalties because they include the loss of a down.

“The No. 1 reason sacks occur is usually the quarterback,” Walker said. “I believe most sacks are avoidable and Brett needs to believe that.”

According to Walker, it was one of many situations that gradually put the game out of NU’s reach.

Still, Walker and the team maintained that Brett’s performance was only one piece of the offensive collapse. The Cats attributed their dismal performance to a lack of cohesiveness and inability to get all 11 players to play well at the same time.

The Cats have also lost the fast-paced attack they used to have with the no-huddle offense. Walker said he has no intention of returning to the no-huddle. Not huddling intends to give the offense an edge, but it runs the risk of not giving the defense enough time off. A regular offense gives the defense more time to rest.

“I thought the advantage (of not huddling) had waned,” Walker said. “I think we’re playing much better on defense (this year).”

But even with all the concentration on the offense, the defense assumed some of the blame.

“The offense struggled a lot,” linebacker Pat Durr said. “But so what? The defense should have shut them out.”

Walker said he was going to give backup quarterback Alexander Webb more playing time, saying there were a lot of ways in which Webb could contribute to the offense. Webb led the first plays of several drives on Saturday.

“Brett just isn’t as fast as Alexander,” said running back Noah Herron. “Brett’s a more traditional ‘pass the ball’ quarterback. With Alexander, we can take it to him and he can do it.”

Walker emphasized that Basanez was still the starting quarterback.

Walker compared the team’s woes to a weightlifter struggling to bench press. While the lifter may be temporarily unable to move the weight, he’s still getting stronger.

“If you don’t put yourself in a position where it’s momentarily impossible, you can’t get better,” Walker said.