Welcome to in the inaugural edition of what I am currently calling the ZHK, Zero Hand Knowledge. Its everything you have the ability to know but are too lazy to hunt down yourself. Consider me your zero hand!
With the football season on the horizon, I want to start with some incite on our upcoming opponents. As we all know, this is really a make or break season for Coach Robinson. The fan base has already witnessed the tearing down of the program. We knew that the talent had declined in the later part of Paul Pasqualoni’s career, but no one invisioned 1-10, 4-7 or 2-10 for this program. Robinson now has 3 recruiting classes in house. What can we expect this season as fans? More than one win in conference? A bowl appearance? I’ll try and pick apart the schedule and see how our opponents are looking. In this addition, the ZHK will break down our opening game foe, the Northwestern Wildcats.
What we know:
# of returning starters O – 8
# of returning starters on D – 7
Northwestern’s record last year was 6-6. Many experts rated their schedule as one of the easiest in the nation, yet they did not go bowling. They did not play Wisconsin or Penn St. They pretty much beat who they were expected to beat minus losing to Duke at home. Wins: Northeastern, Nevada, Mich St, Minnesota, Eastern Michigan, Indiana. Losses: Duke, Ohio St, Michigan, Purdue, Iowa, Illinios. Their best win was against Michigan St on the road.
This is a pass first team. They return their core group of skill players. CJ Bacher led the Big 10 in passing last season. He has an experienced cast of receivers in Eric Peterson (66 catches), Ross Lane (49) and Rasheed Ward (46). Running backs Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh combined for 50 receptions as well and split the carries evenly also on the way to a combined 1000 yards. Sutton has the potential to be a big time back. He rushed for 1500+ yards as frosh and 1000 as a sophmore but missed 7 games last season. How well Sutton returns will dictate whether the Wildcats will have balance on offense or rely on Bacher to direct the attack.
Key Spring developments:
Northwestern must replace 3 starters on the line and it looks like redshirt frosh Al Netter will be manning the all important LT position. They have an new O Coordinator like we do in Mick McCall. He is looking to install a no-huddle offensive to help turn the Wildcats offensive yardage into points.
On the D side, Mike Hankwitz takes over as D coordinator and will be looking to improve on a defense that gave up alot of yards via the air and sacked opposing QBs only 18 times. The secondary is undergoing some position battles that will be decided in fall. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
The NU spring game pretty much followed the breakdown of their team. The offense scored TDs in 3 of its first 4 series. And get this, they were able to pull off a 75 play scrimmage! That’s like a double spring session for us Cuse fans!
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald played during the Gary Barnett era, won Nagurski/Bednarik awards as LB.
Why we can win:
It’s the opener. The Cats will be unveiling 3 new starters on the line. Their secondary weakness could be exploited by our biggest strength in Mike Williams, aka Instant Six! We will learn alot about our team in the opener. Last year we played a mobile QB in Jake Locker and were horribly exploited. Bacher is a throw first qb in the lines of our Andrew Robinson. Hopefully that means easier assignments for our D, which will have to put pressure on and limit the running game. Their Dline did not pressure the QB well and if we can get time to throw that will be to our advantage. Having a healthy stable of RBs in Hogue/Carter and Brinkley will take pressure off of ARob. Mitch Browning’s experience with having seen Northwestern will be a plus.
Why we can lose:
It’s the opener, duh, and its on the road. We are also trotting out a new offensive system and our weaknesses on the Oline will still be unknown as to any or how much improvement. NU’s strength is on offense and if their new no-huddle starts clicking we could be in for a long day, as they have the experience needed to make it work. This aspect scares me more than any other development. If Sutton runs well we will be in trouble. Our LB core, while it got some experience last year, is not a strength at this point. Our young secondary will be tested as well. Northwestern could be a sleeper this year in the Big 10. This will not be an easy game.
Areas of note:
We will probably be a team that gets better as the season progresses. If we want to entertain any thought of going bowling, this game is a must win. On the other hand, it may be alot to expect a win given Northwestern’s offensive experience. We can probably hang with them, but their ability to move the football will be a big factor, especially at home. I pencil this game as a loss.
Next ZHK: Akron
Now, talk to the Zero Hand!