Interceptions in the 2009 season: Twelve.
Number that occurred during the Outback Bowl: Five.
Of those, interceptions in the end zone: Two.
End zone receptions returned the length of the field for a touch down: One.
Those stats seem pretty bad, huh? Well, okay, seven INTs in the regular season isn't all that bad, especially when you have the likes of Ricky Stanz also holding the position of Big Ten QB. But five interceptions in ONE game? In a BOWL GAME? Two of which were the absolutely devastating shoot-yourself-in-the-foot instead of scoring type? Ugh. I mean, what kind of an MVP does that?
The kind of MVP who also throws for 532 yards and sets Outback Bowl, Northwestern, and NCAA records for most offensive plays (98), attempts (78), and completions (47).
I present to you the MVP of the 2009 season: Mike Kafka.
The funny thing about those numbers is that if I had told those to a group of random Wildcat fans in 2008, and then asked who set them, their response most likely would have been along the liens of, "Wait... did some good QB transfer to Northwestern before the 2009 season or something?"
It was mentioned by all three bloggers in our recent Northwestern blogger round-table, in 2008, Mike Kafka was simply not considered much of a passing QB. He was great at scrambling and rushing, but he just didn't have the ability to win games solely with his arm. When you combined that with the fact that the Wildcats were losing a bevy of experienced WRs coming into the season, things really did not look promising from a passing game perspective.
In retrospect, it's ironic then that it was our running game that was found to be our Achilles heel for 2009 and into 2010.
Well, some off-season workouts with new alum C.J. Bacher and a few breakout receiving performances from the likes of Zeke Markshausen, Andrew Brewer, Drake Dunsmore, and Sidney Stewart would make all the difference. Kafka was simply the biggest factor in every Northwestern victory of the 2009 season. When he played, Northwestern's offense hummed along like a finely tuned machine... when he was out.... well, that finely tuned machine suddenly looked like a vintage Ford Pinto. A Wildcat scoring death trap, if you will.
The keys to Kafka's MVP performance were his vastly improved arm strength and accuracy, and his retained scrambling ability. He was selected in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL draft, and will be headed to Philadelphia to play for the Eagles.
2009 season stats:
Mike Kafka, #13, QB:
|Completions / Attempts||319 / 492 (64.8%)|