Football: Defensive end Dean Lowry avoiding sophomore slump with stellar September


Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Dean Lowry gets a grip on Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski. The sophomore has had a very impressive campaign, nabbing one of Northwestern's pick-sixes in Saturday's game against the Black Bears. NU's coaching staff named him the Defensive Player of the Game for two consecutive weeks.

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

Sophomore defensive end Dean Lowry was in the right place at the right time during Saturday’s game against Maine.

Black Bear quarterback Marcus Wasilewski was simply trying to get rid of the ball while being chased by Northwestern defenders. But the signal caller could only muster a weak and errant throw that landed in the hands of Lowry, who strutted into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 21-0 lead.

It wasn’t the first time Lowry found himself in a prime position to make a momentum-swinging play. Against Syracuse two weeks ago, the Rockford, Ill., native snuck into a passing lane and picked off quarterback Drew Allen. A week earlier in the season opener at California, Lowry got his hands on a Jared Goff pass, which was deflected into the hands of junior linebacker Collin Ellis, who scored a crucial touchdown in the road win.

The Cats’ coaching staff has named Lowry the Defensive Player of the Game for two consecutive weeks.  He’s already passed the number of sacks he totaled last year.

Lowry credited his experience of playing a freshman for helping him succeed early on in his sophomore campaign.

“I definitely feel more confident out there having played 13 games as a back-up,” he said. “The game’s a little slower now than it was last year.”

Lowry was one of four true freshmen to see the line of scrimmage last year. It didn’t take him long to start stuffing the stat sheet: In his second game against Vanderbilt, he earned a fumble recovery, quarterback hurry and pass deflection.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said Lowry’s off-the-field work is the key to Lowry continuing to be a playmaker every week.

“He’s doing a really great job on his film study, great job on his preparation,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a guy that I think through the experiences he had a year ago is really starting to come into his own.”

Senior linebacker Damien Proby, who pressured Wasilewski into throwing the interception to Lowry, said he’s happy that the 6-foot, 6-inch defensive end has been playing well.

“We’ve just been amazed to see a young guy like that really step up and take over the position, switching from right side to left side at defensive ends,” Proby said. “It’s been a great thing to see him transition and perform extremely well at the position.”

Fitzgerald said he believes his star defensive end’s growth is only starting.

“He has a great grasp of the system, plays incredibly hard with terrific effort, and he’s just, in my opinion, continuing to get better and better,” he said.

Twitter: @John_Paschall