Happy Wednesday morning Rivalry readers! Today's installment of Big Ten 2010 is a Northwestern blogger round table, with a special guests Rodger Sherman from the SBN Northwestern blog Sippin' On Purple, and LTP from the excellent Wildcats blog, Lake The Posts. Read on as we answer five burning questions on Northwestern in 2009 and 2010...
1. If you could pick one word to describe the 2009 season, what would it be and why?
3. Are you concerned about the departure of Mike Kafka (a surprise 4th round selection in the NFL Draft!) and the starting of Dan Persa, or no?
Rodger: Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. For stuff about Kafka, look above! Dude was good and stuff! Dan Persa, on the other hand, well, I'm not sold. Persa was forced into spot duty against Penn State and Iowa last year, and although he led us to victory against Iowa - sort of - he's not a thrower. Like Mike Kafka in 2008, he seemed speedy and mobile and all that good stuff, but straight up scared to throw, much more content to sprint headlong at the line of scrimmage after making a feeble show of looking downfield and pick up a four-yard gain than air it out, and I fear the reason is because, well, he can't. He's a short guy, never shown much of an arm, and to get the defense to open up enough for him to hurt him by throwing, he's got to QB draw our offense into oblivion first - which, admittedly, did work against Iowa. He'll be a work in progress. It worked for Kafka - not sure Persa can pull off the transition from scared backup to fearless leader.
Hilary: I am... but I suppose like a Cubs fan in April I believe that hope springs eternal. Er... make that, Fitz knows what he's doing. Rodger mentioned Mike Kafka in 2008 and I think that's an apt comparison. Prior to the 2009 season, Kafka was most well known for his crazy game against Minnesota in which he set all sorts of QB single game rushing records and led the Wildcats to an amazing victory. Passing? Not so much. While Persa didn't have an amazing game filling in for Kafka this year, he did look like the same sort of "run first, pass only if I have to" QB that Kafka sometimes looked like in 2008. Hopefully whatever transformation magic was pulled on Kafka can be done to Dan Persa.... Help us Fitz, you're our only hope!
LTP: See above. Based on the fact we just went through this not only at QB, but at WR (who knew Zeke Markshausen would be so critical a year ago - had one career catch entering last season and promptly posted the 2nd most receptions in a season in school history) I think many of us believe the offensive system is now a re-load scenario vs a re-build process. Persa is gutsy - he's got the Zak Kustok moxie gene and he looked solid in the Spring Game and has some big game experience under his belt. I'm cautiously optimistic.
4. What do you think of the now scheduled Northwestern-Illinois game at Wrigley Field this year?
Rodger: Indescribably pumped. A lot of people are making big deals about "what these means for Northwestern football," and, well, that's huge. If NU can use a Wrigley game to sell season tickets, get us some national - but more importantly, local - exposure, and win us a few thousand extra fans by playing an Illinois team we'll probably beat, that's great.
I believe the single biggest needle-mover for attendance and atmosphere is start time. An 11 am game with a heavily slanted family crowd is a killer. I've lobbied as hard as I can to NU for more night games and there is one major barrier to this - overturning an Evanston ordinance that limits NU to one night game per year. NU recently announced the October 9 Purdue game will be a 6:30 pm night game - the first Big Ten night game in Evanston in some 60+ years. I would have every Big Ten non-conference (the conference games are tough because of TV controlling start times) at night.