Breaking Down The Beat: The Daily Northwestern

September 14, 2012

For a closer preview of this weekend’s game at Northwestern, we asked The Daily Northwestern’s Editor, Josh Walfish, to answer a few questions about the Wildcats. Here’s his take:

The HeightsHow have the snaps been split between Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, and who do you see being more important on Saturday?

Walfish: Each quarterback so far has been given entire drives, but Colter always plays most of the first half. Siemian has come in late to save the day the past two weeks, but that by no means was planned pre-game. Colter will be the most important quarterback Saturday because his struggles in the passing game have been a factor in Pat Fitzgerald going to Siemian late in the game. In Fitzgerald’s ideal world, Colter would be leading that final drive and put all of the quarterback controversy talk behind him. If Colter can do a better job in finding his receivers and moving the chains through the air, he will make a major impact Saturday.

The Heights: How dangerous is Venric Mark, and how much of a game-changer is he?
Walfish: Venric Mark is a rare blend of top-end speed and bruising power. He may only be five feet and eight inches tall, but he is rarely brought down by the first defender. Mark’s most dangerous attribute is his incredible toughness and stamina, which will play a factor late in games as the Boston College defense gets tired with the speed of the Northwestern offense. If there is one game-changer on the Wildcats’ roster it is Venric Mark because of his ability to affect the offense and special teams. Mark is one of the best kick returners in the league and had two explosive returns against Syracuse two weeks ago. If Boston College isn’t careful, Mark will break a long return on them and give Northwestern a short field.
The Heights: Who stands out as a playmaker on the defense, and how will they try to disrupt Chase Rettig?
Walfish: The defensive playmaker Boston College needs to watch out for is Tyler Scott. The junior has made his presence known on the defensive line and is by far the most talented pass rusher Northwestern has. I expect a lot of four-man rushes to try and get pressure on Rettig, but the occasional blitz from the linebackers has been very successful for the Wildcats.
The Heights: Who is a guy that might not be getting a lot of attention, but BC should be watching out for?
Walfish: With all the attention focused on Colter, Siemian and Mark, I think the Eagles need to focus in on Demetrius Fields. The senior wideout is a reliable receiver and has made some of the biggest plays of the season. Northwestern has so many vertical threats on the outside that the threats in the slot get overlooked. Fields is a savvy receiver who can get open and be an easy target for the Wildcats’ quarterbacks. Defensively, look out for Dean Lowry. The freshman defensive lineman has been great in pass rushing situations and has played well beyond his years so far this season.
The Heights: How confident is this team, starting off 2-0 for the sixth straight season?
Walfish: Fitzgerald has made it perfectly clear, his team is confident, but also not very good at the moment. The coach has done an excellent job at humbling the players and the players reflect that attitude. Everyone is talking about where they screwed up Saturday and not what went well and they remain hungry to prove the skeptics out there are wrong. There is a sense of confidence that they are 2-0, but they are nowhere near satisfied with themselves. 
The Heights: Prediction?
Walfish: I think Northwestern is going to grind it out on the ground with Mark and the Wildcats’ defensive line will get pressure on Rettig. Northwestern has a propensity to have a letdown game, but I don’t envision that happening at home against a BCS opponent. Northwestern takes it 34-20.

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