Rapid Reaction: Northwestern 38, Western Michigan 17

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

What went right:

  •  Senior quarterback Kain Colter showed his tremendous playmaking abilities against Western Michigan when Northwestern needed him the most tonight. The dynamic signal caller used his legs to exploit the Western Michigan defense in the second quarter and lead three straight scoring drives for the Wildcats at Ryan Field.
  • Junior Treyvon Green did an outstanding job stepping in for injured senior running back Venric Mark. Green had numerous tough runs to help get the offense going in the first half. His 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter iced the game for NU. Green finished the match with 20 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

What went wrong:

  • Redshirt freshman cornerback Dwight White still has a ways to go to master his position. White was burned on a 75-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, putting the Broncos back on top. Sophomore Nick VanHoose also gave up a touchdown later in the game. The cornerbacks will need to improve when conference play begins if the Cats have any hope of making noise in the Big Ten.
  • The offense in the first quarter was out of sync. Colter overthrew a receiver, leading to an interception on the first drive. The following drive started deep in the Broncos’ territory, but the Cats only went backwards and punted. NU did not find the end zone until 8:46 in the second quarter.
  • Tackling continues to be an issue for the Cats’ defense. The mobility of quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen caused problems for the NU defense, as he avoided sacks and ran for 33 yards. NU will face some mobile quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and the defensive line will have to contain opposing signal callers.

What it means:

  • Barring a major upset, Northwestern will enter its big game with Ohio State with an undefeated record. The Wildcats should be heavily favored again next week against Maine. This game was a wake-up call for the Cats, who battled adversity early. Coach Pat Fitzgerald will look at the tape and make needed adjustments during practice this week to eliminate any inconsistencies with his team’s play. In the long run, it’s better that NU faced some challenges: It should force the coaching staff to push players even harder as Big Ten play approaches.

— John Paschall