17 for 41.
0 for 1.
Those are Clayton Thorson’s passing numbers, Northwestern’s yards per carry, and Jack Mitchell’s field goal performance on the day. Illinois State bounced a 33-yarder off the upright and through, and now Northwestern is 0-2 with losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State.
Mercifully, not only could I not watch this game in person, I was also at a cabin in the woods of western Wisconsin for a bachelor party with no cell reception and only antenna TV. As a bunch of former D-III college football players gleefully checked for updates on the Badgers’ pasting of Akron, I would occasionally pipe up and ask the score of the Northwestern game.
When, at halftime, they explained we were down 6-0, I took a deep breath and walked outside to play sand volleyball.
After two or three games of drunk meatheads falling over in the sand, I remembered that I was supposed to be caring about my school losing to a DI-AA program. So I asked again.
There were :40 left. The Redbirds had the ball on our 18, and we led, 7-6.
I took a deep breath and realized it was my turn to serve.
After my service ended, I asked one more time. I was told we lost, 9-7. I took a deep breath and waited for the game to finish (we won and I actually hit the winning set, which was TOTALLY STUNNING because apparently any time someone who’s not a Division III athlete does something vaguely athletic, that sends shockwaves up and down barbed wire tattoo-covered arms).
I walked back to the (mostly-empty) cabin, silently walked to the fridge, and pulled three Miller High Life cans from the back of the fridge.
I walked out behind the empty garage and took a deep breath.
Each one of those fucking cans made a goddamn satisfying explosion against the fucking wall.
I took a deep breath and walked back inside to have some more of my friend Brian’s delicious chili cheese dip.
I went on with my day. There was, after all, a hot tub to enjoy and some lawn games to play and a bonfire which crackled until about 5 in the morning.
The ‘Cats can’t convert on 3rd down. They can’t get key stops on defense. They commit holding penalties at the worst times. The offensive line is a sieve that makes 2015 Penn State blush and has failed to push around, in sequence, a MAC defense and an FCS club. Justin Jackson has a “lower-body injury” because Pat Fitzgerald apparently has a boner for Blackhawks-level injury updates. Matthew Harris got his bell rung, too.
And on and on.
You know what the worst part is? I accept this. I accept this worse-than-Rutgers terribleness because the ‘Cats still average out to a decent team under Pat Fitzgerald. I accept this terrible, awful, no-good, very bad offense because somehow the defense has ensured that we’ve only lost by a combined 3 points, and maybe, just maybe that means we’ll actually rebound and play more lockdown D against Duke.
As usual, there are pieces there for this team to right the ship, but it’s looking increasingly unclear that Pat Fitzgerald is willing to make the staffing, personnel, or scheme changes necessary to win those games and work hard to put themselves in positions that the bounces go the right way.
As usual, there is a ton of money and institutional support behind the team which has shown that with bargain-bin talent dotted with occasional 4-stars, they can win a few big games and push themselves to the next level.
As usual, there is a talented quarterback who has shown glimpses of promise and a running back who’s a workhorse and some talent. There’s even a pretty good defense! That’s new to the last couple years, and pretty neat!
So yeah, I do believe that Northwestern could beat a Duke team that just lost to Wake Forest.
I strongly dislike myself for that.
I take a deep breath and step into a “New Article” on SBNation.
FIRE MICK FUCKING MCCALL
SHOOT ADAM CUSHING INTO THE GODDAMN SUN
SOMEONE GIVE PAT FITZGERALD ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY SO HE ADMITS THIS GROUND-AND-POUND OFFENSE IS NOT THE MOTHERFUCKING ANSWER BECAUSE HOLY SHIT HOW MANY MORE SHITBITCHINGASS LIMPDICK PLAYCALLS AND OFFENSIVE POSSESSIONS ARE ENOUGH BEFORE YOU ADMIT IT’S NOT JUST “EXECUTION,” YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A CHUCKLEFUCK OFFENSIVE FUCKING COORDINATOR AND A GODDAMN ANEMIC PASSING ATTACK WHICH, HOLY FUCK, YOU’RE GOING ON ALMOST TWO CONSECUTIVE YEARS OF NOW BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE LOSING TO A MOTHERFUCKING D1-AA PROGRAM IS GODDAMN FINE, HAVE YOU SEEN OUR NEW LAKESIDE FACILITIES AND YES THEY’RE GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL BUT FUCK ME IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO WIN MOTHERFUCKING GAMES OTHERWISE ANY RECRUIT WITH HALF A FUCKDAMN BRAIN WILL LOOK AT THIS HORSESHIT PROGRAM AND LAUGH BECAUSE THEY CAN GO PLAY FOR FUCKNOTREDAME AND ACTUALLY WIN OR illinois AND HEY LOOK IT’S LOVIE SMITH AND ANOTHER FORM OF A LIMPDICK OFFENSE BUT AT LEAST IT’S AN NFL COACH OR SOMETHING. THAT’S THE FUCKING ANSWER, JUST SHOW THEM A BIG FANCY LAKEFRONT FACILITY JUST OH GOD DON’T TAKE THEM TO THE GAME AND WATCH ETHEL AND CLIVE AND WHATEVER OTHER 78 YEAR-OLD ALUMNI DISDAIN ANYONE WITH THE FUCKING AUDACITY TO MAKE NOISE AS YOUR TEAM LOSES TO ANOTHER DIRECTIONAL MICHIGAN OR SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FUCKING BUILD AN OFFENSE TO SAVE YOUR CHUCKLEFUCK LIFE. BUT HEY DID YOU KNOW TREVOR SIEMIAN IS IN THE NFL AND OH MY GOD WE’RE REALLY PROUD OF THAT HE MUST’VE REALLY DEVELOPED AT NORTHW—OH WAIT MICK MCCALL FUCKING WASTED HIM TOO AND HE DIDN’T HAVE A SINGLE FUCKING WIDEOUT WHO COULD CATCH A GODDAMN BALL SO HEY THOSE TWO 5-7 SEASONS LOOK REALLY GREAT RIGHT ABOUT NOW MAYBE WE CAN GET ONE OF THOSE FUCKING EXEMPTIONS FOR GODDAMN PITIFUL PROGRAMS AND GO BEAT AKRON IN THE PIZZA CITY BOWL
I look down at my phone and see a text from my friend: “What time are you getting to Chicago on Saturday? Night game.”
I text back, “Flight lands at 9:30am at MDW, ready to go whenever.”
I am an idiot.
Go ‘Cats, beat the Blue Devils.