Know your enemy, eye ball breakdown, and I watched a few NW games


  • Next: @ BYU – Thu Aug 29 8:15pm – ESPN TV
    • #86127
      15

      89ute
      Ute Fan
      @89ute

      When you watch Northwestern what immediately jumps out at you is their lack of size and speed. At first glance it would be easy to think we’re going to mop the field with these little dudes and … we probably will.

      Given their lack of size and speed, they play exactly like a service academy. So much so, they look like one. Take away the cut blocks and the option offense and you’re looking at Air Force. Another analogy would be Stanford minus the athletes. They don’t play any option at all, just traditional offense a lot like ours. Some spread, some tight formations, some under center.

      It’s hard to make a post like this flow so I’m just regurgitating my observations. Staying with the lack of size and speed theme, their offense is unexplosive. They have no playmakers, RBs 99% of the time go down at first contact and zero YAK for the receivers. They’ll take some shots downfield to keep the defense honest but all of their stuff is short and quick, tackled immediately on contact.

      So what makes them good? Like a service academy, they play very soundly. They are the least penalized team in the country and they make few mistakes. On defense, they stay in their gaps and keep their position. You won’t see any bone-rattling hits, athletic pick sixes, or sacks, they’re just where they’re supposed to be and they play tough. They are tenacious, again like a service academy, play hard and never give up. Because of this, they are hard to put away if you’re a better team and tough to beat if you overlook them.

      Worst case scenario this game could look just like our game against NIU. We win, but it’s frustrating because we out athlete them at every position.

      Looking at their recruiting since 2014, they only have 3 four stars on their roster. One of which is their QB Thorson. They recruit 3 stars and have more 2 stars than we do. Ours isn’t a great deal better but we have about 6 four stars on our roster and very few 2 stars. There is no doubt who does the better job of coaching up the talent between the two teams. I bring this up just to further substantiate the glaring difference in the eyeball test between our roster and theirs. I was curious how many guys they listed on their roster at 300 pounds. Not many, about 5 I think. When you watch them, no one looks close to 300 pounds. Glancing it over, a lot 280ish guys. Look for yourself On our roster, it’s a question of who IS NOT 300 pounds. And did I mention they’re slow? Yeah, they’re slow.

      Given their runt lines, I was interested in knowing how they do in sacks and sacks allowed. As suspected, very poorly. Sacks allowed they’re 95th, just in front of Old Dominion. (1 is best 129th is worst, lol Oregon St.) We’re 67th if you’re wondering. Team sacks 107th, we’re 28th. Again, this is not a big, strong, powerful, athletic team.

      They play sound ball, they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, and they fight hard.

      QB Thorson – he’s not bad. 4 star 5th year senior. Runs like Payton Manning, no threat there. Like their entire team, he’s not dynamic at all, but he can get the job done. He’s capable of having a very good game and that’s his top end. There is not one player on this team who can “put the team on his back and win”.

      This game will be anything from a frustrating, tight game against a sub-par talent team to a blowout. Given how well we prepare and how serious we take our bowls, I’m expecting an easy win/highly possible blowout.

    • #86132
      1 5

      UtMtBiker
      Ute Fan
      @utmtbiker

      Tl;dr?

    • #86140

      GameForAnyFuss
      Ute Fan
      @gameforanyfuss

      How much do you think we’ll be affected by our many missing players? Especially considering they’re fully healthy and don’t have anyone skipping the game? Does that narrow the perceived gap at all?

      • #86147
        2

        Smack
        Ute Fan
        @smack

        NU has two defensive starters out due to injury.
        Inside NU article

      • #86158

        89ute
        Ute Fan
        @89ute

        Not at all. We’re fine with Shelley, Shyne, Green and Dixon. Bernard for Chase. Let me had another hawt take. I doubt they score any points on our defense. That’s how lopsided I think it is.

        • #86172

          GameForAnyFuss
          Ute Fan
          @gameforanyfuss

          Zero points? Wow. I wish I shared your confidence. Northwestern is ranked for a reason. They’ve won a lot of football games, and I’m pretty sure they’ve put up points in those wins.

          I expect a low-scoring Utah win, but I think it will be way too close for comfort.

        • #86189
          3

          Puget Ute
          Ute Fan
          @pugetute

          They put up 28 on Ohio State. We aren’t going to hold them to zero points.

          • #86526

            89ute
            Ute Fan
            @89ute

            And Michigan scored 39 on Ohio State, so they must be GREAT!

    • #86216
      6

      Eastbaycat99
      Ute Fan
      @eastbaycat99

      I’m a Northwestern fan who lives in the Bay Area. I am also a 20+ year Cal STH, and since I am retired have the time to watch a lot of PAC 12 out of market games. I am not sure which NU games he original poster watched, and while he made some good points, I think NU’s variability this year may have caused him to jump to some conclusions.
      The Cats had significant injuries that changed how they looked at various points of the year. Their QB, Clayton Thorson, started the season recovering from ACL surgery, which severely limited his mobility. By the end of the year he was much more dangerous to break a big run scrambling, and had a 35 yard run against OSU in the CCG. At the start of the year, the main running back was Jeremy Larkin (Barry’s cousin) who had to retire for medical reasons. He was a 205 pound slashing runner; his two primary backups were hobbled by injury at the time he retired, so in the middle of the season, the team was reaching deep into the depth chart. A walk on senior, Chad Hanaoka, who is small and does not look like a Power 5 back, got a lot of reps at that point. Midway through the season, Isaiah Bowser emerged as the primary back. He is just under 220 lbs., and has been successful essentially as a power back, averaging a little better than 100 yards a start. Toward the end of the year, the first 3 cornerbacks on the depth chart all missed time due to injury. If you saw the defensive backfield during the 4th quarter of the CCG, you would conclude most teams would overmatch them. In short, when you saw the Cats would affect what you saw.
      With that in mind, I think the observation on speed is partly true. The NU offense has only a few players who can really break a big play. It tends to be more of a cold weather power team whose strength is up and over the middle. They have a few big receivers who can reliably catch slants and punish the people who try to tackle them. The defensive front 7 is very good, has a lot of players who can be plugged in, and can play well against either a power or option type team. The DBacks have sufficient speed, and as the OP said, they rarely break down.

      The size comment was a little off base I think. On the 3 deep, I can only think of 1 player who would be undersized when compared to a regular P5 team: Hanaoka, who is used now on passing downs because he reads the defense well, makes blocks as required and has good hands to catch a ball in the flat if the defense drops back.

      If you compare the starting 22, Utah’s O-line averages about 5 pounds more per player; NU’s QB, And RB are all a little bigger than those of Utah, and one of the starting Wideouts for NU (Skowronek) is a little bigger than anyone Utah starts, with the others about the same size. TE about same. The Cats Dline on average is a little bigger than Utah’s, as are the linebackers. In general, the dbacks are the same size. As a heuristic measure, NU played well and controlled the LOS against both Wisconsin and Iowa, 2 teams known for their size and strength, and so I really don’t know what his observation was based on.

      I do think it will be a low scoring game. Due to the unknown status of Huntley for Utah and Hartage , the Cats best DB, it is hard to predict. If both of those are healthy, I would favor the Utes by about 5 due to explosiveness and kicking game. Regardless, due to the excellent defenses both teams should be deploying, I think it will be a close if dull game.

      • #86521

        89ute
        Ute Fan
        @89ute

        If you compare the starting 22, Utah’s O-line averages about 5 pounds more per player; … The Cats Dline on average is a little bigger than Utah’s, as are the linebackers. … and so I really don’t know what his observation was based on.

        I watched Michigan, Iowa and Ohio St.

        NW Dline all wear number in the 90s. 99 is out, he was a 292lb slow slug, as are the rest of the NW Dline. The DEs are lightish, as they should be. 98 is 254, 91 is 285 and 97 Gaziano is 275. The reason I named Gaziano is because out of the three games I watched he was the only Dlineman to do something worthy of having his name called. NW Dline is downright horrible. Being small isn’t bad, but when you couple it with slow and weak it’s a formula that results in getting your s**t pushed in, which is exactly what our Oline is going to do. There is a reason they have no sacks, they’re s**tty, plain and simple. Now for the interior guys, 95-268, 94-292, 96-274, 92-288 and 95-268. All these little guys play, 91 and 97 the most (DEs). 99 played a lot too, but he’s gone. NONE OF THE DL COMMAND A DOUBLE TEAM … NONE!

        Now for the LBs … yeah, they better be big because the Dline CAN’T keep the opposing Oline off the LBs. However, like everyone else on NW, they are slow.

        Our DTs are all over 300 lbs. Like I said, being big isn’t all that, but couple it with speed and you have a very big problem.

        As far as LB, TE, RB, WR, DB … don’t care about size, doesn’t matter. What matters is size and SPEED in the trenches and NW does not have it. At all!!

        Your Dline has bigger DEs. Ours go 250ish, yours 280ish. Ours command double teams and sack the QB, yours don’t.

        You’re interior Dline is small … and slow. Our DTs are 25-35 pounds heavier and much faster

        Let’s talk all conference players. How many NW players made first, second or third team? Yeah … that’s right, NONE!

        Edit – correction, one guy each on 1st, 2nd and 3rd team. Still unimpressive.

        Utah? We lead the Pac-12 with 9 First team and 4 Second team.

        So do you still not know what my observation is based on or do I need to keep going?

        NW is going to get blown off the field.

        • #86563
          2

          Eastbaycat99
          Ute Fan
          @eastbaycat99

          LOL. Nice to see such passion. I’ll check back after the game and see how good your observations were, one way or the other.
          I will say as an NU fan, I am pretty used to hearing fans of the opposing team minimize the talent the Cats bring to the field, and sometimes they are right. I’ll look forward th checking back Tuesday morning.

          • #86564
            1

            shakeitsugaree
            Ute Fan
            @shakeitsugaree

            @eastbaycat99

            I did a write up on NW that might be a bit more balanced than what you’re reading here. In short, NW is a solid team with a good defense, that I am sure is not being overlooked by the Utah coaches and players.

            Despite the OP’s assertion that your DLine and LBs are garbage, NW is ranked 19 in S&P+ rushing defense. Utah is ranked 27 in S&P+ rushing offense. I think that matchup will be fun to watch!

            I find it interesting that given the recruiting profile of your QB, NW’s passing offense is ranked 85 (S&P+); you mentioned injuries – how have these injuries impacted the passing game? With the time off between the season and the bowl game, do you expect some of these injuries to have healed, and how will NW’s offense be different because of this?

            Anyhow, check out my write up and let me know your thoughts – am I way off base? What did I miss?

            Looking forward to your response.

            • #86566
              3

              Eastbaycat99
              Ute Fan
              @eastbaycat99

              Bill Connelly is a smart guy, but for a number of reasons I think his numbers are a bit off relative to the Cats. A football season presents a much smaller data set than baseball or even Basketball for advanced stats. Beyond the relatively small sample size, the Cats played pretty much like 3 different teams over the course of the year on offense.

              The first part of the year, Thorson was limited both with respect to number of plays and having any mobility. During this time, the O-line was also short handed due to injury. This resulted in some pretty ugly numbers.
              Starting in game 4, the Cats lost a really good running back,had no backup, and had to throw the ball almost every down with a QB still only on about 70% of his wheels. By mid season, Thorson was able to move pretty well, but the Cats played 4 games out of 5 in really bad weather conditions, which meant very few and very limited throws. Finally, the last several games the leading receiver sat out with an ankle problem. All of this isn’t making excuses for the team; it just means that measuring the offense game (3 games essentially without a running back, 3 games with a one-legged or walk-on QB and 4 games in a gale or deep freeze) doesn’t accurately measure the team.

              On the other side of the ball, the defensive front 7 played very well with very few exceptions. When a pass rush was needed, they were able to provide it (look for highlights of the Michigan State game). When the weather was cold and they needed to stop one of the biggest o-lines and best backs (Wisconsin) they were able to also do that. The linebackers have been exceptional. One (Nate Hall) is out tomorrow; his position will be filled by a safety moving up.
              The back end of the defense was very good when it was at full strength and really pretty bad at times when it was hit by serial injuries. Against OSU, the 4 and 5 corners played most of the game, and it was pretty brutal. The depth chart was tested at various points of the year. For tomorrow, the 1 and 2 corners, Hartage and Williams, are listed. If they really are good to go, the pass defense is much better than the S&P numbers. If not, Utah will break a fair number of big plays. The Cats defense has moved well laterally, where to my observation, Utah’s run game has thrived. This will be a very good match up, and should be fun to watch.

              On offense, In good weather, Thorson, as the cliche goes, can make all the throws, and he really can punish a defense if they lose containment. Unfortunately for NU, the O-line has been only ok even at its best in protecting him, and as a result, they have had him roll out a lot (usually to his right) and try to get rid of the ball quickly. This has led to some pretty erratic judgements and throws. The receiving corps has developed as the year has gone on. Before the season, Jalen Brown, a transfer from Oregon was slated to be a deep threat. He did not play a snap due to injury. A few younger players have stepped in and developed as the year went along, and the leading receivers (Nagel and Skowronek) are good possession guys. To me, a big key will be how Utah defends slants across the middle. If they leave a soft spot, the Cats can move the ball reliably all day. I expect them not to, which would mean more throws to the flats and sideline, with Skowronek a key receiver.
              The strength of the Cats offense the second half of the season was the inside running game using Isaiah Bowser, who did not play the first half. Utah has an excellent interior defense, and my expectation is that the Cats will have limited success there. Having said this, the blocking scheme the Cats use is a little unconventional, and Bowser has been able to move the ball against some strong run defenses.

              All things being equal, I think Utah deserves to be a light favorite. Injuries could have a huge effect on both teams, with (to me) the status is Huntley and Hartage the biggest question marks.

    • #86255
      2

      loyter
      Ute Fan
      @loyter

      I have watched about 20 minutes of highlights of NU, so I’m pretty sure I’m qualified to comment. I doubt NU will just roll over and die when they see Utah’s size and athleticism. Utah is not Alabama, full of blue-chip recruits. Utah is a lot like NU in a lot of ways.

      Thorsen has a cannon of an arm and NU will go downfield. It appears on the highlight reels that they have receivers who catch balls. He does seem to lose his cool pretty quickly when he’s pressured. He threw 14 interceptions vs 15 TDs (Utah QBs combined for 10 INTs and 15 TDs). Their running back is a bruiser, with a lot of strength.

      Utah isn’t without its weaknesses either. Huntley, Moss, Hansen, Covey, all out. If I’m NU, those are all great news. Any one of those guys could be a game changer on any play.

      NU is 4-10 all time in bowl games, but has won 3 of their 5 bowls this decade. (and 3 of their last 4)
      Utah is 15-4, with wins in 14 of their last 15. This, to me, is the stat that gives me the most confidence. What we know for sure is that Whittingham is really, really good at preparing a team for a bowl game. I don’t expect that the loss in the championship game and the “we didn’t want to be there” factor will be a problem.

      My prediction: This game will feature more points than most expect. I think Utah wins 35-24.

    • #86685
      1

      Duhwayne
      Ute Fan
      @duhwayne

      Eastbaycat, thanks for posting to the board. Family went to Cal.

      I found this thread on the Northwestern Rivals page, actually. I shared the views of one poster there that it’s refreshing to play a team with fans who aren’t tools. It’s great to have your thoughtful posts here.

      I look at it a lot the way you do. The teams appear to be even and similar in many ways. Both won their divisions and play the same kind of ball. I’d put total points under 40. I think whoever controls clock and the team that makes fewer drops, errors and turnovers wins. You might even say that the team with more points will win!

      Good luck and here’s to a clean, injury free game. After several years of the Vegas bowl it’s great to get a good matchup with a great school.

    • #86782

      89ute
      Ute Fan
      @89ute

      Hey Eastbaycat99, halftime thoughts?

      • #86866
        1

        Eastbaycat99
        Ute Fan
        @eastbaycat99

        Thought I would wait till the game was over. Thanks for the hospitality. Guess it wasn’t a Ute blowout after all.
        Good luck next year!

    • #86868

      Eastbaycat99
      Ute Fan
      @eastbaycat99

      I did say I would come back in one way or the other!

    • #86874

      Eastbaycat99
      Ute Fan
      @eastbaycat99

      And a of the Cats belong on the same field with all the All conference Utes, I guess. Take care. Injuries and conditions had a lot to do with both halves.

    • #86875
      1

      89ute
      Ute Fan
      @89ute

      Congratulations Cat. You did it. Won fair and square.

    • #87008

      Hungry Jack
      Ute Fan
      @johnmatrix

      “NW Dline is downright horrible. Being small isn’t bad, but when you couple it with slow and weak it’s a formula that results in getting your s**t pushed in, which is exactly what our Oline is going to do.”

      Monsieur, your table is ready. How would you like your crow prepared?

    BACK TO TOP

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Utah Utes Message Board Forums Utah Utes Sports Football Know your enemy, eye ball breakdown, and I watched a few NW games

    This topic contains 20 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Hungry Jack 7 months, 3 weeks ago.