Monday Football Press Conference (10/27/2014)

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald looks rested, coming off of the bye week.

— Fitz: Iowa is a pretty good rivalry for us. … It’ll be a challenge for us, no doubt about that.

— Injury Updates: WR Miles Shuler, WR Dan Vitale, WR Kyle Prater, S Ibraheim Campbell: Ran around today. Day-to-day. LB Collin Ellis: Out (concussion).

— Ellis’s concussion: More concerned long-term than about the week-to-week concern. It’s not his first concussion, so they are going to be very cautious.

— “We got a lot of work done last week. That was productive. It was a pretty tough month of football. I like the fact that I saw some guys moving around this week that I didn’t see practicing last week.”

— Fitz: We had to get some things cleaned up from a schematic standpoint. We had to figure out where their issues are.

— They don’t think about bowl-eligibility or postseason (shocker). “Trying to go 1-0 this week.”

— “I have a special place in my heart for linebackers. It’s not that I don’t love everyone else, I just love them more.”

— QB Trevor Siemian is healthier than he’s ever been, according to Fitz.

— On LB Brett Walsh (suspended for arrest over the weekend): “See my statement.”

— On the taste in his mouth from last year’s loss to Iowa: “We have a different team this year. … It’s been a great rivalry since we’ve gotten competitive.”

— On rivalry: “The biggest part of it is that we become competitive. We became competitive in ’95, and since then they have been some pretty good Big Ten football games.”

— On LB Anthony Walker: “He’s settled in. … [LB Chi Chi Ariguzo] has been a calming force for Anthony.”

— On the importance of the bye week: “We really needed it, based off of where we’re at. I wish we weren’t playing who we were playing, but it’s more about you than about your opponent.”

Kyle Prater and DL Greg Kuhar took the stand next.

— Prater: “I’m ready to go. I feel great.” He said the bye week came at the right time.

— Kuhar on losing CB Dwight White: “He’s a great kid, a great player. I realized he wasn’t practicing as much. I actually read the story online, that’s how I found out.”

— Kuhar: “Chi Chi knows how to fill the gaps. … He’s one of the leaders of the defense. Not only making tackles, but giving the calls.”

— Kuhar: “Iowa is going to be another smash-mouth team.”

— Prater: “We need to have that focus intensify. Last week, we got much better. I don’t think the focus goes down, if anything, it goes up.”

— Prater on missing the Minnesota catch: “Situation like that was tough. … I learned a lot from it. I have to get better. My focus intensified after that. … When you drop a ball, it’s just a lack of focus. Sometimes, you take your eye off for a split-second.”

— Prater isn’t worrying about last week, but he’ll use it as fuel.

SportsNight (10/23/2014)

Join Noah Fromson and Brandon Wilson for this week’s edition of SportsNight. Our fourth episode features Northwestern’s homecoming football game against Nebraska, an overtime women’s soccer victory vs. Rutgers and much more!

CB Dwight White to retire from football

Redshirt freshman cornerback Dwight White will retire from football for medical reasons, the Northwestern athletic department announced Thursday.

White played in 12 games last season, starting 6 of them. He replaced Daniel Jones, who has also since retired for medical reasons, in the 2013 season opener against Cal, but struggled and eventually lost the starting job to true freshmen Matthew Harris.

Northwestern News Report (10/22/2014)

The Northwestern News Report for October 22nd, 2014. Featuring stories about NU Homecoming, DM Registration, and a possible law to raise the legal age to buy tobacco in Evanston.

Politicat (10/21/2014)

Midterm Elections — Northwestern News Network political director Jamie Lovegrove hosts the March 21, 2014 edition of Politicat, NNN’s weekly political talk show. Sylvan Lane, managing editor of the North By Northwestern magazine, and Joseph Diebold, a senior staffer for The Daily Northwestern discuss midterm politics. With two weeks until election day 2014, Politicat examines the national political outlook and takes a closer look at the tight gubernatorial race in Illinois.

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WSOC: Northwestern Upsets No. 14 Rutgers On The Road

After playing more than 300 minutes without scoring a goal over the last four games, the Wildcats (6-7-3, 2-6-2 Big Ten) put one on the board — and it was an important one. 

At the 97’ mark, sophomore Addie Steiner drilled a 20-foot goal for her ninth goal of the season, and the ‘Cats defeated No. 14 Rutgers (11-2-1, 7-2-1 Big Ten) on the road by a score of 1-0. This game was the first home loss for the Scarlet Knights since October of last season.

After being taken down hard over the course of the game, Steiner received a yellow card at the 86’ mark, in what appeared to be a frustration foul. Head coach Michael Moynihan then removed Steiner in favor of Katie Landgrebe, but Steiner came back in to start the overtime period. 

The Scarlet Knights had a number of scoring chances, but the five saves of freshman Lauren Clem and some bounces kept the home side of the scoreboard empty.  

At 93’, junior Erica Sroski had a penalty kick opportunity for Rutgers. She kicked it to the right side, but it caromed off the post — and Clem had guessed the right side, as well. 

Northwestern now has notched its two wins in conference play in the last two weeks. After two road games, the ‘Cats now head back to Evanston to play their last three games of the season at home. They play Michigan this Friday at 7 p.m. 

Homecoming: Ohhh's and Ahhh's, a tale of two halves

By Mike Marut

On homecoming, Northwestern (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) started out strong, but fell in the second half to No. 19 Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten).

Northwestern looked so good in the first half. The Wildcats recorded 262 all-purpose, offensive yards. They controlled the clock with 17:15 of possession time. They held Ameer Abdullah, arguably the best running back in the Big Ten, to 46 total yards. This begs the question, where was NU in the second half?

Quarterback Trevor Siemian led the Cats to a 17-14 lead in the first half. He threw for 146 yards and helped NU convert four of its eight third downs. The Wildcats got to the red-zone three times and took advantage of all three opportunities with three scores: two touchdowns by running back Justin Jackson and a field goal by Jack Mitchell to end the half. Northwestern had the momentum.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald mentioned a lot of oooh’s and ahhh’s during Saturday night’s game, more oooh’s for Nebraska, ahhh’s for Northwestern. The first half told a different story for crowd reaction though. The Wildcats came out strong against the second ranked team they’ve faced this year.

Probably the biggest oooh for NU was freshman phenom Jackson. A highlight that will be remembered for at least this week is his Madden-esque spin move. Jackson stopped on a dime and shook off a Cornhusker to high-step into the endzone for his second touchdown of the night. Jackson notched 99 yards in the first half averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

Another oooh for the Cats was the defense. Limiting Abdullah to under 50 yards in the first half is no easy feat. In fact, NU is only the third team this season to achieve that. Besides one breakaway 50-yard carry, the Wildcats would’ve held the running back to under 100 yards.

The second half though was more ahhh’s. The offense could never really get started. There was one small spark after receiver Miles Shuler suffered a game ending head injury. It seemed the offense used the Shuler injury as motivation to continue forward. They did not get much farther, only about 20 yards or so after the injury and then had to punt.

Nebraska, on the other hand, turned up the heat and scored on nearly every drive, outscoring Northwestern 24-0 in the second half. The Wildcats only mustered 28 yards of offense while the Cornhuskers more than doubled their halftime yardage of 227 and finished the game with 471 yards.

One of the big ahhh’s in the second half was the fact NU only had more than a three plays and a punt twice out of their six second half drives. Nebraska only had to punt one time and that was after a deep 29-yard strike from Cornhusker quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to receiver Kenny Bell.

The defense cannot be blamed for everything that happened in the second half. Simply put, the offense needs to stay on the field longer than 10 of the 30 second half minutes. Comparing the first half to the second, it really is a tale of two halves. This theme may be all too clichéd, but it’s clichéd because it works well to define events like Saturday night’s loss to Nebraska.

Next week, NU does not have a football game. The team has two weeks to prepare for Iowa and in those two weeks, they will need to get healthy and figure out a game plan to earn the lead and keep the lead throughout the entirety of the game.

Nebraska vs Northwestern: Rapid Reaction

By Mike Marut

Northwestern and Nebraska traded blows throughout the game until midway through the third quarter when Nebraska scored its first touchdown of the final frame. The Cornhuskers forced the Wildcats to punt in every possession in the second half while Nebraska kept scoring . Most impressively, Tommy Armstrong Jr. nearly capped a 53 yard drive in the fourth quarter by hurdling some NU defenders. The original call of the touchdown was reversed and Nebraska had to put it in the old fashioned way: Ameer Abdullah 1 yard touchdown carry, his fourth of the night. Abdullah had one breakaway play for 50 yards and officially broke the 1000 yard marker with 146 yards making him the first running back in Nebraska football history to have three 1000+ yard seasons with the team.

Northwestern had trouble throughout the second half to get any offense going. Justin Jackson did his best to get the ball moving forward, but when the Wildcats were stuck in long third down situations, it became difficult for Siemian to hit his targets and convert.

Chris Gradone struggled to punt it away early in the game but increasingly set the Cornhuskers deeper until late in the fourth with a low punt that De’Mornay Pierson-El returned to the Northwestern 20 yard line. Despite the advantageous field position, the ‘Cats held the Cornhuskers to a field goal.

On the final drive for Northwestern, the Wildcats started at their own 25 and drove to their own 41 where the offense stalled. Cornhuskers got one first down then took to the victory formation and finished the game with 38 points.

Final Score: Northwestern 17 – Nebraska 38

3rd Quarter Recap

By Mike Marut

With both teams trading punts throughout the beginning of the second half, Nebraska finally broke the scoring barrier with a touchdown with 4:27 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Northwestern defense has struggled on 2nd and 3rd down, allowing conversions at crucial points in the drive. To respond, the Wildcats started at their own 24 yard line and marched down the field and seemed to pick up momentum after a long injury timeout as Miles Shuler was taken care of. NU gained two first downs and then stalled at midfield and were forced. Nebraska picked up at their own 23 and began to march down the field as the quarter ended.

Halftime Recap

By Mike Marut

The Wildcats looked to catch a break after a personal foul resulted in NU entering Nebraska territory early in the 2nd quarter but the very next play, quarterback Trevor Siemian threw to the endzone looking for receiver Mike McHugh who was triple covered. The attempt resulted in an interception. On the Cornhuskers first drive of the second quarter, they looked to be picking up momentum and ended their first second-quarter-drive in an Abdullah touchdown.
Northwestern had trouble picking up any offensive steam early in the second quarter but later in the quarter, running back Justin Jackson got the offense rolling. After a 88 yard drive, the Jackson spinned in for a touchdown. The Cornhuskers immediately retaliated with a deep 46 yard strike followed by a trick play for the touchdown. With 1:14 left in the half, the Wildcats drove back down the field to score a 29-yard field goal before ending the half.
Abdullah did not break away for any big plays but steadily racked up his rushing yards, quickly approaching the 1000 yard mark on his season. If he breaks that milestone, he will be the first running back in Nebraska football history to achieve three 1000+ yard seasons.

Halftime Score: Northwestern: 17 – Nebraska: 14