In one of the best displays by the offensive line in ages, the Northwestern Wildcats gained 320 rushing yards versus Eastern Illinois, the first time they have topped the 300-yard mark since 2005—on 67 attempts, the most rushes in a game for NU since 2003 and 10 shy of the school record.
This gives them at least 200 yards rushing in their last three, including the 2011 TicketCity Bowl.
NU’s first 8 TDs came on running plays, tying them for the fourth-most rushing TD’s by any team in the country through two games. Forget the Golden Gophers, it’s the Wildcats who are the animal living on through the ground this summer.
QB Kain Colter ran for a career-high 109 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. That’s fourth most among all-time Wildcat single game QB rushers, tied with Dan Persa, who gained 109 vs. Penn State last season.
In that bowl game to conclude the 2010 season, Colter finished with 18 carries for 105 yards, and 2 TDs, 3-6 passing for 38 yards, 1 reception for 32 yards, accumulating almost 200 all-purpose yards. In his first real extended action, the then freshman QB Colter played multiple positions in a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Colter talked about the difference between that experience, and his opening day start/victory over Boston College.
“It was a little bit different in the Ticket City Bowl, I had some special packages that the offense had for me, and Boston College they kind of handed the reins over and said just take control of the offense, and opened up the playbook for me,” he told the media.
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald gave his impressions of Colter’s first start:
“I saw a lot of similarities between this game and Dan at Vanderbilt last year. There’s only so much you can do as a coach. There were a couple times Kain should have pitched it but didn’t. There were a couple times the concept wasn’t there, get rid of it quicker. It’s all part of the process, and he’s going to be better this week if his number gets called. For the most part I thought he handled it really well, I’m not trying to be overly critical of a true sophomore in his first collegiate start.”
Persa did suit up for Eastern Illinois, and is listed as questionable for Army tomorrow. I’m guessing we won’t see him until after next week’s bye, and he’ll likely start versus the Illini in NU’s 4th game.
You might notice two big changes with Colter this season: the jersey number switch and the muscle weight he gained.
“The biggest thing was I worked a lot with our strength and conditioning coach,” Colter said.
“The main thing we focused on was upper body weight, I had that surgery, so we were just working on trying to improve my arm strentgh and I think it’s helped a lot.”
The story of how Kain Colter got to Evanston is an interesting one, Coach Fitz articulated and detailed the recruiting process with Colter
“Obviously there were the ties with his dad playing at Colorado, Mick being from Colorado and his brother being at Cherry Creek, so we had some in-roads and we felt all along Kain was going to be a quarterback. We also told him, similar to what we did with Andrew Brewer and Eric Peterman, that if it didn’t work out, we definitely believe you can play something else offensively.
But we’re going to start you at QB until playing time or your role determines it to go to another place. I’m not quite sure what happened at the other school, nor do I really care, but I think you know my recruiting.
“We’re going to be brutally honest and if that means we lose a guy, so be it. I’m not really concerned with what other schools do just to get kids. But he got banged up and the other school made their decisions and I think that just shows the character we have in recruiting.
We’re going to stand by young men that get hurt. The only reason I’m going to drop a guy is if academically it doesn’t work, or socially they become a knucklehead. I’m not going to punt on guys that make a 17-year old mistake but if the mistake is so unbecoming of being a Wildcat then I’ll punt on them, I’m not going to put those guys in our program. We felt all along Kain would be a quarterback here and he can do a lot of things.
“We thought he was a playmaker. I was not concerned about the labrum or the surgery, that just takes time. Maybe I’m a little jaded because of missing the Rose Bowl and breaking my leg and my ankle but those come back. It’s a win-win, the young men that commit before their senior years, they protect themselves from injury. We’re going to honor their commitment and stand by their word.
Other schools punt on kids and that’s disappointing. It goes back to this whole verbal commitment thing and coaches always say it’s the kids de-committing, and that’s part of it, but it’s also coaches who punt on guys when they get hurt, it’s pathetic. It’s these kids’ futures.
If the young person can’t play, then we’ll redshirt him, and if he can’t play after his freshman year then he’ll be probably be medical’ed, we get the scholarship back and the bad news is he gets a Northwestern education. I’m not trying to be on a high horse or be holier than thou but that’s one of the darker sides of college football when we have coaches trying to play games that way.”
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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