Spartan Nation 2011 Big Ten Football Scouting Report: Northwestern Wildcats
Biggest Game:Â November 26, 2011, hosting MSU
Predicted Record:Â 11-1 (7-1)
Projected Big Ten standing:Â Â 1st in the Big Ten Legends Division Â Â Â
Returning Starters:Â 16Â Â Â Â OFFENSE:Â 9Â Â Â Â Â DEFENSE:Â Â 7Â Â Â Â Â Lettermen return:Â 56 Â Â
Head Coach:Â Pat Fitzgerald 6th Season at NorthwesternÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Lifetime:Â 34-29Â
Top Assistant:Â DC Mick McCall
Pat Fitzgerald is among the best coaches in the Big Ten and quickly emerging as one of the top 25 in the nation.Â He was thrust early into the job, but has learned the nuances of being a head coach and has done a remarkable job.
With nine seniors starting on defense, this team should be ready to have its best defense since Fitz was a player.Â The amazing Dan Persa, who is coming back from a major Achilles injury, will lead the offense.Â All of the things I have heard off the record from Evanston is that he is far and away ahead of schedule and will be 100% no later than the first week of fall camp.
Persa is gutsy and has spent extra time, when he canâ€™t work out, in recovery watching more film than ever and working on body parts that he can.Â I am told that he is in the best shape of his life.
Persa is a magician with the football, and in the Northwestern system is able to make the snap reads that either makes your offense unstoppable or predictable.Â He is the straw that stirs the drink.
When was the last time someone could say this about the Wildcats:Â they have a great group of experienced players with some very talented young men and some incoming freshmen that are straight ballers.Â This Northwestern team is talented, well coached, and frankly, ready to get back among the elite in the Big Ten.Â There is no place on this team that you can clearly say, â€œthat is their Achilles heel,â€ other than Persaâ€™s actual Achilles heal.Â If he is back 100% ready (and I expect it), this team will have an amazing season.
I believe that their November 25, 2011, game against MSU is the biggest on their schedule.Â The winner of that game will get their ticket punched to Indy and the Big Tenâ€™s first Title game.Â MSU has had problems in the past with Northwestern, so I am giving that game on the road as a slight edge to the Cats.
September 3 @Boston College Win
September 10 Eastern Illinois Win
September 17 @Army Win
October 1 @Illinois Win
October 8 Michigan Win
October 15 @Iowa Win
October 22 Penn State Win
October 29 @Indiana Win
November 5 @Nebraska Loss
November 12 Rice Win
November 19 Minnesota Win
November 26 Michigan State WinÂ