Rapid Reaction: Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

What went right

It wasn’t perfect, but senior quarterback Trevor Siemian probably had his best all-around game of the season. He completed 32 of 50 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown while only taking two sacks. Most importantly, he once again took care of the football by not throwing an interception until the desperate final play of the game.

But Siemian continued to have difficulty throwing the ball deep, causing far too many short completions that failed to get Northwestern adequate yardage for a first down. His receivers also continued to drop catchable passes, most importantly on the second fourth down during the Wildcats’ penultimate drive of the game.

True freshman running back Justin Jackson was once again stellar, carrying 23 times for 108 yards and also catching four passes for 50 yards. Part of his ongoing success is due to an improving offensive line, which also largely did a good job of keeping defenders off Siemian.

What went wrong

A kickoff returned for a touchdown. A punt that only traveled 12 yards. Two illegal formation penalties. It wasn’t a very sharp day for NU.

The defense struggled, limiting Minnesota running back David Cobb but also often failing to bring him down upon first contact. With both safeties often lining up in the box and the corners playing soft coverage, the Golden Gophers had ample opportunity in the play action passing game.

Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner only threw 15 times, but completed 10 of those passes for 153 yards, often to a wide-open receiver. Freshman safety Godwin Igwebuike, last week’s hero, had a particularly bad play where he was beat for a 52-yard reception and then called for a facemask penalty.

As a unit the defense simply couldn’t get off the field, allowing Minnesota to convert seven of the team’s 13 third downs.

Email: [email protected]northwestern.edu
Twitter: @BobbyPillote
See our full coverage of the 2014 football season on our Gameday blog.