Hope springs eternal in Evanston after two disappointing 5-7 seasons. Hopefully, the team has healed from all the injuries and put the distraction from the union debate behind it. However, our Wildcats won't have an easy start to the season as they host the #21 Stanford Cardinal this Saturday at 11AM CST on ESPN.
Northwestern offense vs Stanford defense
Thorson and running back Justin Jackson will lead the Northwestern offense against the #21 Stanford Cardinal, in a very stiff test. Thorson tore up the DuPage Valley Conference and has only played against his teammates for the past year. Welcome to the big leagues, kid!
Northwestern now has a new quarterback, redshirt freshman Clayton Thorson! Thorson beat out sophomore Matt Alviti and true senior Zack Oliver for the job. Northwestern (should) only be using 1 quarterback this season. I personally hated the 2 QB platoon system since it probably gave opposing defenses a good key on what play is coming. Thomson is joined by returning stud RB Justin Jackson, and a new-look offensive line with 3 starters. This *might* not go well against a team that's traditionally built to run the ball and stop the run. However, Northwestern might have a chance since Stanford had to replace the entire defensive line and secondary from last year. Stanford's players to watch include DT's Solomon Thomas and Harrison Philips and tackling machine Blake Martinez. The success of Northwestern linemen Eric Olson and Geoff Mogus blocking against Peter Kalambayi and Kevin Anderson will be key if Jackson is to get any substantial yardage. Then JJ has to get past Martinez.
Stanford offense vs Northwestern defense
When asked what worries him most about Northwestern's defense, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan said his focus has been on the secondary. "They really work together well," Hogan said. "Whether it's the safeties coming up in the run game and the corners replacing over top, or the corners trusting their technique on the outside and sticking true to the scheme, they do a really good job."
I'll probably get bricks or broken beer bottles thrown at me for this, but I hope Stanford brings their wacky and irreverent Band to Evanston. I also believe that most of Jim Harbaugh's recruits have graduated, and it will be interesting to see how David Shaw's recruits do going forward.
Retro Program Cover Analysis
According to Wikipedia, Stanford used to be known as the Indians. This art-deco style program tastefully displays Native Americans, but as you'll see later this year, Northwestern had no problem mocking Chief Illiniwek