Football: Siemian surges back to normal against Michigan


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Trevor Siemian winds up a pass Saturday. The junior quarterback showed some bright spots he had lacked in Northwestern's previous Big Ten defeats. He completed 16 passes for 137 yards but granted Michigan one interception.

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

Hidden somewhere in the frenzied field goal attempt that illustrated Michigan stomping on Northwestern’s bowl eligibility chances was junior quarterback Trevor Siemian.

He’s been quarterback 1B on the depth chart for most of the season and never received the attention his counterpart, senior quarterback Kain Colter, did when the team was firing on all cylinders last year.

So on Saturday, he went back to being his normal self, completing 67.9 percent of his passes and not making any momentum-swinging mistakes in Saturday’s loss. Sure, there was no big play element in the offense. But with the way the Wildcats’ offense has been functioning lately, a 26-yard completion to junior wide receiver Christian Jones in the third quarter felt like a game-changing play.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said he saw a lot of opportunities in the passing game on Saturday’s tape.

“We really felt like there were some things we could exploit with him in the throw game,” he said. “For the most part, he had a pretty darn good game.”

Through NU’s losing streak, Siemian was the poster-boy of the offensive struggles. The passing game was nearly non-existent, recording fewer than 200 yards in the past three games and only 1 touchdown. During that six-game stretch, Siemian was 74 for 139 with five interceptions. Two of those picks were returned for scores.

Although the Cats have become a run-oriented offense thanks to senior running back Venric Mark’s breakout season last year, the unit always needed balance in order to succeed. Siemian said the six-game losing streak hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been rough for me,” he said. “It’s been rough for everyone in the locker room and coach Fitz. It’s not fun. But we’re just going to keep working. There’s no quit in that locker room.”

If there is one area that Siemian and the rest of the offense could work on, it’s third down. With Siemian in the game, the Cats only converted once through the air for a first down. One of the ways NU could cure that issue is through creating big plays.

“Every offense needs a couple big plays,” Siemian said of Saturday’s game, noting the rain could have affected NU. “The weather probably didn’t help that out.”

The task of racking up six wins won’t get any easier for the Cats. Michigan State marches into Ryan Field on Saturday. The Spartans’ defense ranks fourth in scoring defense and second in third-down conversions nationally. Siemian said it’s tough to focus on just himself going into the final two games.

“Individually, just to gauge how I’m doing, I don’t think that’s fair to everybody else,” he said. “I’m ready to play. Everyone is ready to play. I’m just looking forward to next week.”

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