Northwestern won their season opener against Towson Saturday, 47-14.
The Cats jumped out to a 30-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
Most of Northwestern's key defensive players were done for the day well before halftime, and numerous backups saw significant time.
While I realize that trying to draw any meaningful conclusions from a game against such an overmatched opponent is a flawed approach, I'm going to do it anyway.
- I was very impressed with the passing game.
Mike Kafka was highly efficient, putting nearly every pass right on the numbers. When they did choose to throw the ball, the receivers got separation and made the plays, especially Andrew Brewer.
It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that performance level against stronger competition. If they do, the Cats should have a potent offense.
I think they can consistently make plays given that they generally rely on timing and solid route running than superior athletic ability at the receiver position.
- Arby Fields looks like the answer at running back.
He showed good agility and burst, especially on his second touchdown run when he cut back to the left to find the running lane. His numbers would have been a lot better if he didn't leave in the third quarter with a minor injury (supposedly cramps).
The rest of the backs were less impressive.
Stephen Simmons got the bulk of the carries and he didn't exactly dominate. He was steady, but didn't really seem to get any more than the blocking gave him.
Scott Cancannon had an impressive touchdown run to the outside as well as their last score in the red zone, but didn't do much else.
Schmidt and Woodsum had a few runs inside the red zone.
I'm hoping that Fields gets more touches in future games, in my opinion he was clearly their most dangerous runner. While it was only one game, the other backs didn't show enough for me to trust them in bigger games.
- I was a bit disappointed in the pass rush.
Towson generally had enough time to get the pass away without much pressure. I realize that Wootton and Brown were done for the day well before the end of the second quarter and they didn't exactly bring the house on the blitz, but I thought they'd apply a bit more pressure to the overmatched Tigers.
I'm not going to panic because NU played backup linemen for the bulk of the game, but pressure on the passer was a big part of their success last year.
Hopefully in future games we'll see Wootton and Browne make a bigger impact.
-Jeravin Matthews suffered what appeared to be a major leg injury.
While I would rather not make conclusions considering that I am not a doctor, it did not look good. He was helped off the field and later left on a cart.
He did not return and I have heard that he will be getting an MRI.
If he does miss significant time, it will definitely affect the offense.
Matthews appeared to be a part of the rotation at both running back and wide receiver. He is an athletic and versatile player that would leave them with one fewer weapon.
Overall, I don't think the fans can complain too much about this game.
The outcome was never really in doubt and a lineup of mostly backups maintained the lead. There were a few issues, but they still have another relatively easy out of conference game next on the schedule in Eastern Michigan. This game was a nice start to a potentially strong season for the Cats.