Friday, November 9, 2007

Blog exchange with Lake the Posts.

Northwestern blog Lake the Posts posed some questions to me earlier this week, and I did the same. Here are his answers to my questions. Be sure to check out LTP for my answers to his questions and other coverage of the game.
1. Tyrell Sutton. You and other NU fans have been critical of the decision to go away from Sutton at the end of the last two games, Sutton's first games since September. Has Fitzgerald or anyone else shed any light on that decision this week? What do you expect from Sutton against IU (I have to admit, dangerous runners have killed IU this year)?

Unfortunately no. Fitz, although I love the guy, is too much coach speak for NU fans' liking. He repeatedly points to "pressing" as the reason for not winning - the lack of execution - not the fact that in the past two fourth quarters - AFTER establishing a rushing game with Sutton that yielded extremely positive ypc, we went 0 rushes and 2 respectively in the Purdue/Iowa 4th quarters. Iowa could not stop Sutton - he had nearly 100 yards (96) at halftime, yet we go to the chuck when we've got teams tired. Inexplicable really. Sutton should be getting 30 carries a game unless the defenses can prove they can stop him. I expect Sutton to put up good numbers again. He is arguably the best receiving RB in the nation ( actually gave him this honor heading into the season). The dual threat of Sutton running/catching screen passes is what opens up our WRs. I expect him to run for at least 125 yards and have 50 yards receiving vs Indiana.

2. As an IU fan, I'm usually in no position to criticize anyone attendance, goodness. It's not usually that bad, is it? Sub 20,000 crowds during nice weather? Less than a full house for Michigan? Is this typical, and if not, why this season? What can be done about it?

This has been the soapbox that LTP has been on all year long. The crazy part is the regular readers are not sick of me yet. It is the worst attendance year since pre 1995 and they are on track to have the worst attendance in 25 years. No, it is not usually this bad. We have had 7 home games for the first time in 61 years - and while that sounds good - the first 3 home games are before the students are on campus (trimester system). However, when you only have 7400 students that really is a weak argument.

If you really want to see, just scroll down the topic bar on LTP as we've had numerous discussions about NU marketing in Chicago. The alumni base is extremely small -especially considering NU alums tend to flee to NY and LA among other places, but that has been constant. Obviously the 4-8 year last year doesn't help, but you'd think Fitz name alone would bring some folks back. I can't remember being more flustered by the lack of fan support. It is a joke and an embarassment.

3. I'll turn the tables on you: in your memory, what Hoosier has done the most damage to NU?

Antwaan Randle-El. I remember fearing Alex Smith, but he got hurt badly vs NU in 1995. Randle-El tore us up in a way that I haven't seen in quite some time. I just missed seeing Thompson, but no doubt the Thornton High School product takes this honor.

4. While the Wildcats are far from finished this year, how do things look for next year and the near term for Northwestern?
Near term - as in this year - not good. The momentum is all but gone from this team as fans have thrown their hands up in the air. It is a tough team to root for this year, as they don't seem to have any rhythm, flow or consistency. Bacher has been brilliant and baffling. The Iowa game was a microcosm of our season. Part domination, part offensive explosiong, part defense showing life, part offensive implosion, defense meltdown. All in one game.

In general, those "in the know" had this year pegged at 7-5 as realistic based on the schedule (no Wisconsin, Penn State), but that assumed a healthy Tyrell Sutton. He essentially has been at full strength for 2 games (Northeastern, Iowa) which is a huge blow. We return every major skill position player on offense next year, but the offensive line is going to take a huge hit. On defense, we've been awful for a decade now, but have some young playmakers, however no one, and I mean no one, outside of the team themselves has any confidence that we'll be able to stop anyone next year. Most fans are assuming Defensive Coordinator, Greg Colby is gone, which is the only glimmer of hope for the defense, which has some individual talent, to be a factor. Prior to this season, thoughts of 4-8 in 2006, 7-5 in 2007 and an 8 or 9 win season in 2008 were almost common banter. If we lose the last two, which we are predicted to do, and go 5-7, most fans will be worried about the future of the program slipping back into the dark ages.

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