As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Tuesday over the summer. We continue our series with Northwestern, who SU will play in Week 2.
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: Lake The Posts is one of the pre-eminent Northwestern blogs and communities out there. We are about covering Northwestern sports and helping build the Northwestern community. We have launched initiatives to help drive up ticket sales and pack Ryan Field in purple (something that does not always happen). Our community is absolutely great and Northwestern pride is really riding high after the bowl win.
TJO: What are the expectations of the Northwestern team?
PRR: The bowl win has changed everything. That monkey is off the team’s back and there is a quiet confidence about this team. They now have tasted victory, so to speak, and want more. All the skill players for the team — including all-Big Ten quarterback Kain Colter and All-American running back (OK, it was as a punt returner) Venric Mark — return. The team is a lot more comfortable with the two quarterback rotation and roles seem much more defined. Defensively, the team is expecting some improvement too as guys step into new roles and gain that extra year of experience. I do not want to say I expect this team to win the Big Ten Legends Division, but this squad definitely expects that.
TJO: Who should we be watching out for?
PRR: After last year’s game, you know Venric Mark and Kain Colter are guys a defense has to be aware of. Mark made a lot of big plays in last year’s game. Trevor Siemian obviously pulled off that miracle comeback with his throwing. The guy who caught that pass was Demetrius Fields (don’t worry, he graduated). My guy to watch, though, is Rashad Lawrence. He jumps up to that top wide receiver role and with all the attention likely focused on Northwestern’s ground game with Mark and Colter, Lawrence could be the beneficiary of that attention. He has always been a solid receiver but never quite a star. If Lawrence has strong showings, it likely means Northwestern’s offense is really clicking and taking what the defense gives them.
TJO: What are your predictions for the game?
PRR: Last year, Syracuse seemed to be in transition, but they still had Ryan Nassib to pace them and lead them. Now. . . Nassib is gone. Doug Marrone is gone and there is an entirely new coaching staff. So it is hard to figure out exactly how Northwestern matches up. On experience and seniority alone, I like Northwestern’s chances. They seem much more comfortable and confident in what they are doing and they are hungry to win. The advantage for Syracuse is that new coaching staff and the fact NU loses a day to prepare when the team flies back from California Sunday early morning or regular morning. I like Northwestern to pull away late, but there may be some hiccups early in the season.
Northwestern by 13.
Be sure to visit Lake The Posts for all of your opposition research on the Wildcats.