2007 Northwestern Football Preview by BigTen-fans.com

Big Ten football fans

2007 Northwestern football preview

2006 Record: 4-8, 2-6
Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald

Players Drafted: None Drafted

Top Recruits:
Jordan Mabin – DB – 5’10” – 180 – Nordonia, OH
Josh Rooks – TE – 6’6” – 250 – Holland, MI
Bryce McNaul – LB – 6’2” – 240 – Eden Prairie, MN
Michael Brown – DB – 6’1” – 75 – Evanston, IL
David Arnold – DB – 6’0” – 185 – Copley, OH
Vincent Browne – DE – 6’5” – 240 – Lisbon, OH

Key Players Returning:
Tyrell Sutton – RB – Jr.
C.J. Bacher – QB – Jr.
Dylan Thiry – OT – Sr.
Reggie McPherson – FS – Sr.
Adam Kadela – LB – Sr.
Corey Wootton – DE – Soph.
Adam Hahn – DT – Soph.
Deante Battle – CB – Sr.
Ross Lane – WR – Jr.
Brendan Smith – SS – Jr.

Northwestern Wildcats 2007 Offensive Outlook

The Wildcats had a tough time last season moving the ball consistently and putting it in the end zone. The Wildcats ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring and total yards per game. The running game was not the issue as Tyrell Sutton had a nice year rushing for 1000 yards for the second time in his collegiate career. Sutton has the ability to break open any play, and he’s a threat in the passing game as well. Sutton had his best games after junior QB C.J. Bacher started running the offense.

In six games last season, Bacher threw for nearly 1200 yards and six touchdowns. He’s a cerebral QB with good size at 6’2”. The one area Bacher needs to improve is ball control. He threw eight interceptions last season, and the Wildcats cannot afford to put the defense in bad field position.

The Wildcats did not have any receivers top 500 yards last season. The loss of Shaun Herbert leaves a spot for a new receiver to emerge. Junior WR Ross Lane caught 30 passes last season for 401 yards and two touchdowns. There are capable receivers on the roster, but it will take a little time to see which players emerge as Bacher’s favorite targets. Rasheed Ward, Andrew Brewer, and Eric Peterman will all see plenty of action.

The offensive line appears to be set, but competitions are still waging. Three starters return including to key seniors. Center Trevor Rees and LT Dylan Thiry have experience and make to most out of their opportunities on the field. Junior G Joel Belding returns as a starter, and senior Adam Crum has shown the ability to be productive at the LG. The line has been productive the past two years in the running game with Sutton amassing 1000 yards each year. With Bacher settling in as the starting QB it is likely the offense will score more often in 2007.


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Northwestern Wildcats 2007 Defensive Outlook

The biggest improvement for the Wildcats this season should appear in the defensive line.
Sophomore DE Corey Wootton returns after leading the Wildcats in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (9) including two interceptions last season. Wootton, along with DT John Gill and DT Adam Hahn give the Wildcats a solid group up front. There is also some depth on the line considering senior Mark Koehn should start at the other DE, and Kevin Mims, David Ngene, and Corbin Bryant are above average players that can step in make plays.

Senior Adam Kadela will be leader of the defense from his LB position where he led the team with 80 tackles last season. Mike Dinard and Eddie Simpson will hold down the other LB spots and will step in as starters after seeing plenty of action last year. These two players will need to flourish in their new roles behind the defensive that should make the entire defense better this season.

The defensive backfield has good tackling athletes. Unfortunately they have had to make too many tackles in the past. With a stronger unit up front, the secondary should be able to focus more covering rather than run support. SS Brendan Smith was second in tackling last season (68) and CB Deante Battle finished third (67). Smith also led the team with three interceptions, and Battle had five tackles for loss in 2006. Reggie McPherson and Sherrick McManis will round out the secondary.

Northwestern Wildcats 2007 Special Teams

The kicking game isn’t necessarily as strong as Fitzgerald would like, but a competition between Stefan Demos and Arnado Villarreal will give him the opportunity to find someone to help the offense add points. Demos has a strong leg and will also be considered for punting duties along with Kyle Daley.

Brendan Smith will handle punt returns and has a knack for consistently getting decent returns. Sherrick McManis will be the primary kick returner after averaging 21 yards per return in 2006.

Northwestern Wildcats 2007 Prediction

The Wildcats have a nice group of underclassmen this season and there is definitely hope to improve on last year’s record of four victories. Pat Fitzgerald has his QB in place and that should help the offense move the ball more consistently this year. Behind a solid offensive line Sutton should cruise to another 1000 yards rushing. The Wildcats won’t see Penn State or Wisconsin this year which translates into more favorable opportunities against Minnesota and Indiana. There is hope for the Wildcats to reach a Bowl game in 2007.

Northwestern Wildcats 2007 Football Schedule

September 1 – vs. Northeastern
September 8 – vs. Nevada
September 15 – vs. Duke
September 22 – at Ohio State
September 29 – vs. Michigan
October 6 – at Michigan State
October 13 – vs. Minnesota
October 20 – vs. Eastern Michigan
October 27 – @ Purdue
November 3 – vs. Iowa
November 10 – vs. Indiana
November 17 – at Illinois



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