What went right:
The defense was Northwestern’s best offense today against Maine at Ryan Field. Senior linebacker Damien Proby and sophomore defensive end Dean Lowry recorded the Wildcats’ ninth and 10th interceptions respectively, which were both returned for touchdowns. Lowry continued his outstanding afternoon with a sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter.
NU continues to show its running back depth. Senior running back Mike Trumpy had the hot hand Saturday and led the Cats in rushing with 94 yards, including a touchdown. He showed some good burst when the offensive line gave him some room to run.
What went wrong:
Outside of the first half’s opening drive, NU’s offense looked somewhat out of sync for most of the game. The quarterbacks, senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian, could not find any rhythm. Colter missed multiple wide-open receivers, including a pass to junior wide receiver Tony Jones, which resulted in an interception. The Cats’ signal callers need to work on their accuracy heading into the bye week and conference play.
Junior defensive tackle Sean McEvilly was ruled out with a lower-body injury before the game, and NU missed his presence. The interior defensive linemen struggled to contain Maine’s rushing attack in the first half. The big guys in the middle will have to clog up more lanes in order to allow the linebackers to make plays.
Senior kicker Jeff Budzien seems to be in a funk. The Lou Groza Award watch list candidate has missed more field goals during the first four games this year than he did all of last year. The Cats will need him to make some clutch field goals if they want to win in conference play.
What it means:
NU comes out of non-conference play undefeated. The Cats can now focus on the matchup that all fans have been waiting for: Ohio State on Oct. 5. NU is fortunate to have a bye going into conference play. Coach Pat Fitzgerald needs to ensure his team is executing for four quarters if they want to beat a team like the Buckeyes.
— John Paschall