Football: After his performance against Minnesota, quarterback Andrew Marty has a chance to start on Senior Day


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Andrew Marty runs with the football. The senior is listed as a co-starter with quarterback Ryan Hilinski for Northwestern’s Saturday night matchup against Iowa.

Drew Schott, Gameday Editor

Ahead of Northwestern’s game against Minnesota last week, senior quarterback Andrew Marty learned he would see the field for the first time since suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder in September. 

But there was a catch. 

“The game plan was if I created a spark, I’d stay in,” Marty said. 

His chance came in the second quarter when he replaced sophomore quarterback Ryan Hilinski near the Golden Gophers’ red zone. Marty led the Wildcats to the Minnesota six-yard line, setting up a crucial third-and-goal. 

There, he made sure to create that spark. Dropping back in the pocket, the Cincinnati native tossed a screen pass to sophomore running back Evan Hull, who raced into the end zone for NU’s first touchdown. 

Finishing the 41-14 loss with 93 passing yards, 28 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Marty gained the opportunity to be the Cats’ No. 1 option for the first time since Nov. 2019. The senior was listed as a co-starter with Hilinski on the Projected Depth Chart ahead of NU’s (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) matchup with No. 22 Iowa (6-2, 3-2).

“Andrew has worked hard since day one,” offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian told The Daily. “I think the injury gave him a little extra motivation and another hurdle to overcome, but he’s continued to work hard.” 

Marty spent the offseason battling Hilinski and senior quarterback Hunter Johnson in a quarterback competition, ultimately won by Johnson. Going into the season, it was unclear whether Marty or Hilinski held the backup spot.

Three weeks into the season, Marty was revealed as the next man up. He replaced Johnson after the starter’s three interceptions and lost fumble had the Cats in a 27-0 hole against Duke. In less than seven minutes, Marty led three touchdown drives nearing 200 total yards in the fourth quarter.

However, a 25-yard quarterback run proved precarious, as Marty not only lost the ball, but also left the game with an upper-body injury. Even though Hilinski came in and guided NU to a field goal, it was not enough as the Cats fell 30-23.

With 151 yards through the air, 48 on the ground and three touchdowns versus the Blue Devils, Marty had demonstrated his ability to lead the offense. However, the injury — which required his right arm to be in a sling — caused him to miss three consecutive games. 

“Your throwing shoulder, to have that injured, is not the best thing,” Marty said. 

During that time, the Cats went 2-2 and Hilinski threw for 725 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

After spending three weeks on the Inactive List, coach Pat Fitzgerald revealed that Marty was “really close” to playing against No. 6 Michigan. He said the Cats designed a package for the quarterback, but didn’t run it because of the game’s trajectory — which ended in a 33-7 loss. 

When NU last played Minnesota in 2019, Marty came in for an injured Johnson, becoming one of the few bright spots in a 16-point loss. He completed the first pass of his career, scored three touchdowns and led two scoring drives of 60 yards or longer. Marty then made his first career start against Illinois the next week.

A similar sequence of events unfolded nearly two years later. Hilinski completed just one of six passes for five yards. His single successful attempt to junior Malik Washington was promptly fumbled and recovered by Golden Gophers cornerback Justin Walley for a touchdown. A quarterback switch was then made. 

Following Marty’s touchdown march on the Cats’ third possession, Hilinski missed three consecutive passes on their next drive. Fitzgerald then chose to ride with Marty on the last possession of the first half, and eventually the rest of the game, 

“Quarterback’s got to No. 1, move the ball down the field and score points,” Fitzgerald said after the loss. “No. 2, he’s got to be able to make some throws and make some plays that are maybe off the script and (I) thought Andrew did a few of those things pretty well today.” 

In the final 30 minutes, Marty led two drives into Minnesota’s half of the field, including a late nine-play, 74-yard series that culminated with a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Berkeley Holman.

“Whenever my name’s called, I’ve been ready to go,” Marty said. 

Fitzgerald said he is looking for a starting quarterback who gives NU a chance to score points and gets the players around them excited. Bajakian prioritizes production, citing protecting the football and efficiency as keys to earning the nod against the Hawkeyes. 

According to Bajakian, both signal callers are highly intelligent and bring good skill sets to the Cats’ offense. Sophomore offensive lineman Peter Skoronski complimented Hilinski and Marty’s ability to manage the offense and see the field. 

Both also discussed the differences between the two. Bajakian said Hilinski’s strong arm allows him to “make all the throws,” while Skoronski discussed how Marty’s running ability allows NU to switch up the playbook. 

Only time will tell if Marty or Hilinski takes the field with the first team offense on Saturday night. But if one thing is clear, it’s that the senior earned his shot for a potential start on Senior Day. 

“We know the type of player Andrew is,” graduate linebacker Chris Bergin said. “He’s a phenomenal quarterback, he’s a phenomenal football player. He battled his butt back just to be able to play today. I have the utmost respect for him for coming back out and doing what he did.” 


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Twitter: @dschott328

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