Northwestern — 2012 Syracuse Football preview

As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. We start with Northwestern, who SU will play in Week 1.

Syracuse will open its season at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, September 1 against Big 10 foe Northwestern. In preparation for the game, we spoke with Philip Rossman-Reich from the Northwestern football blog Lake The Posts to get a scouting report on the Wildcats.

The Juice Online: Tell us about Lake The Posts.

Philip Rossman-Reich: I joined Lake The Posts about a year ago. But even when I was on campus, LTP was the pre-eminent Northwestern blog around. The name Lake The Posts refers to the tradition Northwestern had after victories (any victory) of tearing down the goal posts and throwing them into Lake Michigan. When Northwestern fans did this, wins were once in a blue moon. Obviously things have changed. And so LTP’s big goal is to be a center for commiseration and a place to build support for Northwestern athletics. The goal is still to fill Ryan Field with purple every week!

TJO: What are the expectations of the Northwestern team?

PRR: The expectations remain to win a bowl game. It would be nice if Northwestern could compete for a Legends Division title in the Big Ten, but there just is too much to replace on both sides of the ball—especially with the loss of Dan Persa and in the secondary—to really expect that much of an improvement. Northwestern’s record has to improve this year and the Wildcats have to continue to show growth. We have reached the point in this program where bowl games are the norm and that is where it should be. Winning a bowl game and getting that “monkey off their back” would be the next logical step.

» Can Syracuse win this game?
» More SU Football: Meet the 2012 team — Marcus Sales

TJO: Who should we be watching out for?

PRR: There are going to be a lot of changes to Northwestern, but the offense still centers around quarterback play. So Kain Colter is definitely the guy to watch. Colter will likely be making his second straight opening day start, and he will have the offense completely under his control to run this entire season. Colter is a dual threat quarterback who showed a lot more comfort running than passing as the part-time starter and relief quarterback last year. Colter still has to show confidence in his passing ability to nail down the starting job. But there is no confusing, this is his team as quarterback now. Northwestern relies on the quick decisionmaking of its quarterbacks to get going and so, at the beginning of the season, watching Colter’s comfort level as “the guy” will be something to watch early on in the season.

TJO: What are your predictions for the game?

PRR: It sounds like Syracuse is going through a little bit of a transition after struggling at the end of the season. Meanwhile, despite a ton of losses of key seniors, Northwestern has some continuity. The Wildcats don’t know how to blow out many teams. So that won’t happen here. This will be a competitive game. But Colter’s experience and his ability to be a dual threat quarterback is going to be a lot for the Orange defense to handle. So long as Mike Williams is not walking through the Carrier Dome, I think Northwestern’s defense will do enough to hang on. NU by 7.

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