Ryan: Can’t constrain Colter to quarterback

Dan Ryan, Sports Editor

I’ll admit I knew this was going to happen.

As a lifelong Bears fan, I’m well-acquainted with quarterback controversies. I expect it. Miller vs. Chandler. Orton vs. Griese. Grossman vs. not throwing interceptions. But it seems this nightmare followed me to college football in the form of Colter vs. Siemian, and I don’t think it’s necessary.

Kain Colter is a very good quarterback. He throws a nice pass and displays aboveaverage awareness and decision making and I’ve always liked his mechanics.

But he shouldn’t be throwing the majority of passes for the Cats.

It’s not that I believe Trevor Siemian is a better signal caller than Colter, nor am I some kind of Zack Oliver anarchist. I wish Evan Watkins would see the field more, but that’s only because I like winning by huge margins.

In fact, I think Colter is far and away the better quarterback. But he’s also the better player. And athlete. That’s the problem. Colter is so talented and versatile that he can line up anywhere at any time and have a huge game.

Take the Indiana game, for example. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that Indiana isn’t good at football, and anything done against them should be taken with a grain of salt. I couldn’t agree more, but what Colter did in that game was still exceptional.

He single-handedly wrecked the Hoosier defense while running the option and torched the secondary when lining up at receiver. Final tally: 161 rushing yards and 131 receiving yards. So pretty good. I could do better in Madden, but I don’t want to brag.

Fast forward to Penn State. Siemian goes 21-of-36 for 135 yards as the NU offense sputters. The Cats revert back to the whole “Oh, I thought the game ended after three quarters, let’s have a do-over” thing, and everyone notices that Colter didn’t attempt a pass. It’s reasonable to want to put the speedy junior under center more.

However, that’s not the best way to win games. If Colter is at quarterback throwing passes and leading the offense, then the Cats lose their most effective receiver and quite possibly their most dynamic runner. He’s not replaceable at either of those positions.

Venric Mark is ridiculous, and I like the depth NU has at receiver. But Colter caught 9 passes for first downs against Indiana on passes thrown by Siemian. He was unstoppable. He opened up the ground game while running the option as well. This is the blueprint for success the Cats should be aiming for.

And it’s not like Siemian is a bad quarterback. He’s not the athlete Colter is, but he showed against Syracuse that he can lead an offense down the field. He had a bad game in Happy Valley. It happens. We shouldn’t be ready to burn this whole experiment to the ground because the performance ruined our pipe dreams of going 12-0. The way it’s running right now, this offense has a chance to be something special.

I’ve already suffered through 15 years of quarterback-related depression and controversy. Maybe NU students can go more than one game before starting a new one. Put away your pitchforks and give it some time.