Prediction Friday(?) – 2015 Season Outlook

Will Justin Jackson be a big enough stud to bring NU's offense back to life?

Will Justin Jackson be a big enough stud to bring NU’s offense back to life?

Yes, I know. We should have probably posted this a few days ago. But hey – Trent got us started early with a great deep dive into his thoughts for the season quite a while back. Lets take a look at how the rest of the Warriors think the season will shake out.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
5-7 6-6 4-8 5-7 4-8 7-5 7-5

Average record: 5.43 – 6.57

Roger:

Season Summary: [Editor’s note: Roger wrote this before Thorson was named starting QB] It’s that time of year again! Hope is in the air…. West Lot passes are in hand, the van is fully operational (although our friends at the body shop in Glenview might not agree) and my annual summer pilgrimage to the Rose Bowl has been made. I even brought Grayhack along this year, so all signs point to success, right?

Right?!?!

Well…. not so fast. As has been well documented, no more than 2 years ago, the Northwestern football program was sitting pretty. Now, as the proverbial saying goes, shit has hit the fan. In fact, shit will be flying around the room this Fall. That’s how I see this season playing out.

This team is absolutely screwed on paper. Thankfully, games aren’t played on paper. But, I don’t think it matters where we play games this year.

Where to start….. how about in the trenches?

The defensive line should be fairly decent. However, the blow hards would have you believe the D line is the second coming. It’s not. Our defensive line, while one year older now, was one of the worst in Power 5 football last year at pressuring the QB. I expect that to improve somewhat and I expect us to do fairly well against the run, but this isn’t a 1990’s FSU D line here. It will be an average to slightly above average B1G D line. Generally, in the past decade, that would have been just fine with a potent offense anchored by a quality…..

O Line. Holy shit….. this is going to be a train wreck. Based on preliminary reports, the O line is playing musical chairs more often than Bag did in first grade recess. I’m not sure we’re dealing with the worst O line in the conference (simply because Penn State happens to be in the B1G too), but this will likely be the worst unit on the team and one of the worst O lines in Power 5 football. It will make the rest of the offense look brutal, especially the…..

QB. I’m actually cautiously optimistic that whoever wins the job here (yes… it’s a bit alarming that nobody has won the job yet) could at least be capable with a reasonable offensive line. That’s not going to be the case though. Rest assured, whoever starts the season at QB has a good chance of not making it to the end of the season due to the aforementioned unit. I expect to see a lot of sacks…. whether Snax, Thorson or even Alviti are behind center. All we can realistically hope for here is someone who manages the game and avoids turnovers.

At this point, you’re probably thinking “Shit, Roger. Can we even win a game against an FCS team? Is there any unit on the team that has a prayer?!” To that question, I am pleased to answer in the affirmative.

RB – Justin Jackson is no joke. He was no joke with a lousy offensive line last year. He’ll be less of a joke with just as bad of a line this year. There’s also a ton of depth at this position. I expect the ground game to keep us close in some B1G games later in the year. Will that, a shifty Jelani Roberts getting some late season PT as a true freshman, and a quality secondary be enough to win us more than 1 or 2 B1G games? That remains to be seen, but it’s doubtful.

I think we’re all in for a world of hurt this year. On the bright side, a 4-8 record means that we inch ever closer to staff accountability.

Whatever happens, we’ll still be rockin’ in the West Lot watching Paul do the Nae Nae. Let’s hope the ‘Cats surprise the shit out of us and Nae Nae alongside.

Record: 4-8

Player to Watch: Jelani Roberts. He may not see the field a ton this year as a true freshman, but my sources tell me this guy is very much a Venric Mark 2.0 playing receiver. I hope he gets some action returning the occasional kick and/or punt. If he does, look for him to house at least one.

Game to Watch: Duke. I’m essentially writing Stanford off and assuming that we’ll be able to knock off our FCS foe. If that’s the case, the Duke game may be indicative of the rest of the season. Our secondary is sure to be tested, but if they are the real deal then they need to keep this one competitive because, as will be evident very early on, we’re going to be a bit offensively challenged.

Warrior to Watch: Uh…. Doc Roche. Is this even a question? For those who don’t know, Doc is in his residency in Pennsylvania. While he will no longer be gracing us with his presence in the West Lot on a weekly basis, he will be delivering babies in place. While this clearly doesn’t take the same sort of commitment as firing up the grill and guaranteeing the cleanliness of our operation, it’s still impressive. Atta you, Doc!

Song of the Year: Silentó – Watch Me

Roche:

Season Summary: I’ll get to the prediction in a minute. First, ROCHE LIFE UPDATE.

As Roger alluded to above, I’m in Central PA for the next four years, completing my residency in ObGyn at Hershey Medical Center, which is affiliated with Penn State. Despite being several hours away from State College, I’m saddened to report that I’m deep within Nittany Lion territory, my friends. They have paraphernalia in the Medical College bookstore with JoePa everything. Crap like this is everywhere. And you know what the worst part is? I can’t say a damn thing. I’m the outsider. I’m the jackass who thinks Joe Pa was wrong and was complicit in allowing Sandusky to do what he did.

And while you shouldn’t get caught talking bad about Paterno here, it’s a minor offense compared to disgracing the name of Saint Milton Hershey, who established the town, the chocolate company and (among other things) The Milton Hershey School. With no children of his own, he established a vocational school for impoverished, healthy, Caucasian male orphans. Honest to goodness. Sure, the turn of the 20th century was a different time, but dude looks like he was running his own Neverland Ranch. Not one spot for orphaned healthy females, eh, Milt? Just healthy boys? No, sure, that’s a totally normal thing that no one thinks is totally weird and super messed up.

Yeah, sports and stuff. Look, the B1GCats aren’t gonna be that good this year. I’m not basing this on a lot. Previous years I’ve been reading blogs and staying up-to-date on the happenings in Evanston. But this offseason I’ve been getting my news from emails I receive from Rog, ZVon, Bag, Paul and Andy. I’ve been more of a passive absorber of SPROTZ news. That said, I’m very excited for Clayton Thorson to start at QB and grow, but I’d be shocked if he made it past the 5th game without getting hurt with the O-Line the ‘Cats are throwing out there. The defense will be mediocre to above average, but I don’t think that will be enough for most games. The offense is too unproven to trust, though JJ will be exciting to watch again this year. If CT can prove himself as a competent QB, JJ will go wild, and the ‘Cats have a chance at a bowl game.

I’m thinking we go 5-7 this year. The swing game will be against Duke, who suddenly isn’t a football joke anymore. In conference, I see wins against Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa and Illinois. Because, sure, why not.

Record: 5-7

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson. How will he do as a RS Freshman starting at QB? I love the fact that Fitz is starting him. Let’s be straight with ourselves: we’re playing for next year. We’re lucky to go to the Papa John’s Bowl this year.

Game to Watch: Illinois. Good God. The ‘Cats lost to them last year. What in the hell? They gotta beat the Illini this year. LOLHAT

Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin. How many handles of Fireball will he consume this year? Will he ever find anyone to help him properly align the satellite dish?? STAY TUNED THIS YEAR TO FIND OUT!

Song of the Year: Dion – Runaround Sue. Watched ‘Little Big League’ recently with Fetz. This song’s been rattling around in my head for weeks. Love this jam.

 

Paul:

Season Summary: My hopes are not too high for this season as the “we’re in a rebuilding year” soundbite will be coming out before we even get into Big Ten play. Our offense and QBs are still being led by Mick McCall who would’ve been fired by any other Big Ten coach, but Fitz’s loyalty has delayed that inevitability for a few years. The offense’s problems have been well documented by my fellow warriors. I just hope Fitz/McCall stick with Thorson at QB instead of crafting some ridiculously over complicated scheme to get everyone involved. If they do that it will be fun watching the redshirt freshman develop into a hopefully solid QB that we can rely on for the following three years.

I see the defense keeping us in a good amount of games this year, but ultimately the lack of offense puts a ceiling on this ceiling. I see NU taking the EIU and Ball State games at home, but see a blowout coming for the Stanford game this Saturday, followed by a heartbreaker in Durham against the Blue Devils. I think the Cats will have a tough Big Ten schedule and will be able to take wins from Purdue and Illinois, but will go down close to Minny and Iowa, but will get routed by the Huskers, PSU, and Wisco.

Record: 4-8

Player to Watch: Justin “JJ” Jackson. If the run game isn’t successful this year the Cats are going to be SOL as our passing game is going to have some growing pains. I expect JJ to have some breakout runs this season which will make some of the games interesting before breaking our collective hearts.

Game to Watch: Duke. I’m with Roger on this in assuming the Stanford game is a guaranteed L. Duke will be a make or break game and will have an effect on the West Lot and team psyche for the rest of the season.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin. After giving up his season tickets this year, Roger will have little excuse not to stay out in the West Lot drinking and yelling  at the TV. Will this finally be the year he has a heart attack on site?! One can only hope that if he does, Dr. Roche will be in attendance.

Song of the Year: Selena Gomez – Good for You

Z-Von:

Season Summary: Listen, the other Warriors have explained our faults – and trust me, I have to agree, however, I think this is the type of season the Cats live for. The Cardiac Cats aren’t supposed to win games this season and when the expectations are low, and we have nothing to lose (save for 12 games), we tend to do some miraculous stuff (See NU-Notre Dame, 2014: Cats 43, ND 40 in what was one of the most bizarre, exciting, and my personal favorite of any game I’ve ever attended). So, that was then and this is now….does that mean we will have any luck? Against Stanford, I don’t think so. However, I like ‘Cats and an on the job training Clayton “The F*cksaw” Thorson to pick up some confidence in the next three games. I like us against Duke and I think the ‘Cats will want to study up after they lose the first battle of the Nerds in our opener.

So, we roll into B1G10 play and we are 3-1, the Warriors are happy. NU fans are starting to get optimistic. That is a dangerous thing (see NU vs Ohio State, 2013 Homecoming Game. OSU 40, Cats 30 in what was the most heartbreaking loss of my Cats fandom). Still, we beat Minnesota (who is predicted to be pretty good but I still think their offense can’t score – that’s good for the Cats). Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska is a tough stretch, I think we get one (if we are lucky). We are 5-3 at this point. I think we beat Purdon’t and ILLANNOY but lose to Wisco and PSU. This is a 7-5 season. This is the best we could do (and not very realistic however I want somebody to be excited here!). Let’s go Cats. Make me look good (as much as you can since I’ll already be wearing that Purple suit).

Record: 7-5

Player to Watch: Clayton “The F*cksaw” Thorson – this guy is a RS Freshman with a lot of upside – so they say.  Was a beast in HS, let’s see if he can be the next Dan Persa.  If we can get a guy that can run the ball when pressured (and he’s going to take a lot of pressure) and toss the ball to the open guy, we could be okay.  Let’s hope he has a good first campaign at the very least and is ready to lead us as we continue.

Game to Watch: Minnesota – Oct. 3rd.  This is a huge game.  B1G opener against a solid MN team.  They should be coming in with at least one loss (they open vs. TCU) and we’ve blown it against them the last two years.  Let’s get a W and open strong.

Warrior to Watch: Pat Grayhack.  How many games will he make it to?  Will he stay alive at the tailgate?  Has he become some Southern Snob or is he a Southern Gentleman?  Time will tell.  The color of his hair and Fireball are so similar – it’s truly a sight we need to see at many-a-tailgate this year.

Song of the Year: Omarion – Post To Be

Andy:

Season Summary: This is the year folks! The year the people finally start to wake up and and take Fitz off of his pedestal where he can do no wrong. People are going to be wondering why the hell Mick McCall is still employed by Northwestern and why a team with some solid offensive talent can’t do anything with any sort of consistency. Blowout losses to Stanford and Duke will set the tone for the season early, and any glimmer of hope from the uncertainty of what this team is capable of doing will be long gone. Despite an upset win over Nebraska and a win in the last place bowl, coaches will be fired and Fitz will finally be where he deserves – the hot seat.

Record: 5-7

Player to Watch: No brainer. Clayton Thorson. If he can be successful from the first snap, this team has a chance to make me look foolish. Please do hoss.

Game to Watch: Stanford. If we don’t get slaughtered that could honestly be a minor victory and give us some confidence that we can win football games. A big win the next week could bode well for Duke and the rest of the season.

Warrior to Watch: Paul Huettner. With myself out of town and likely only attending 3-4 football games (which includes a “road game” at Solider Field) will anyone help Paul organize? How many shaming emails will he send over our listserv? Will he lose it and decide to quit? Only time will tell.

Song of the Year: It’s going to be sad, but also nice to finally see some changes in Evanston. Bingo Players – Cry (Just a little).

Grayhack:

Season Summary: [Editor’s note: I have no idea what any of this means] Ladies and gentlemen, here we are once again. The promise of a new season is upon us, however, I let the chains of despair shackle the hopes of my beloved ‘Cats before a ball was even kicked off. Yet in my despair I thought, “before we write off this Northwestern team, let us consult the augurs of pop culture”. Luckily for us, the VMAs were last night, so the stars were readily available for all to see.

First, we saw a the quashing of a beef between the godess of America and the woman who has a small moon instead of a butt. At this point, the signs for Northwestern’s season were looking up, as after two years of disaster once again peace and a bowl game would return to Evanston. However, the hope I gained was soon crushed. Mere minutes later, as the lady of butt based plastic surgery was lifted onto the stage a rebellious Wilson. Then Old Lady Roundness started a new beef with Hannah of Montana. Tears streamed down my face, all goodness had surely left the world. The sign was clear, while old wounds would heal a new problem would lay low the Cats. As I sunk into what was sure to be the deepest depression of my life, a light appeared in the darkness. This was no man, but someone transcending his mortal status and becoming something more. Like mighty Hercules as he approached the end of his labors, he strode forth with weight of the world firmly attached to his back and he lifted us all up. As we all know, Kanye the West declared his intent to run for President, and there was joy in my heart once again. This man, no demigawd, is father to North the West and he had claimed his mantle. The sign was clear, this was the year, we were going to Pasadena, huzzah. Then, I crashed back to Earth, for sadly he would run in 2020. The message was clear this would be a decent season, but one with an upward trajectory on the path to the top of the mountain. Our time is delayed my friends, but take heart for the future shines brighter than those flashing lights.

Record: 7-5

Player to Watch: Christian Jones, the 5th year senior was our best WR two years ago, but a preseason acl tear took away what I thought would be a breakout season for him. Will he provide the much needed safety blanket for a young QB or has the cruel tendrils of the injury bug ruined yet another promising career.

Game to Watch: Illinois: Could this be the game where we beat our “hated rival” so badly that they give up on football once and for all?

Warrior to Watch: Trent Stafford. With Andy Day out of town and Roger refusing to enter the games until Mick McCall is fired, the time is nigh for a new warrior to rise to lead the Purple People in a rousing chant of “Let’s go ‘Cats”. Will Trent be that man?

Song of the Year: Taylor Swift – Bad Blood

That’s all folks. Hopefully we’re all in for a big surprise.

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