This week we're back to our traditional Q&A format Zach Pereles of SB Nation's InsideNU stops by to answer my questions about the Wildcats:
T-Mill: Purdue is building a $60 million training facility, but it looks like it pales compared to your Lakefront facility. What are some of the details behind it and how should it help Northwestern?
Zachary: The new lakefront facility will include a full-sized practice field for the football team, three basketball courts, a track, practice areas for Olympic sports team like swimming (which currently has to use the school's main rec center for practice), football offices, sports medicine areas, locker rooms and more. It's kind of a big deal. Not only is this going to be a major help when it comes to recruiting, but it will also make lots of student-athletes' lives easier, as their current practice facilities are all located off campus, meaning they have to either take a car, shuttle or the ever-popular moped about about a mile for practices. Unfortunately for non-athlete students, construction means much of the famed lakefront has been shut off, and it'll stay that way for the approximately two years it'll take to finish the project.
T-Mill: You're from Chicago, WHY DIDN'T YOU WARN US ABOUT JOHN SHOOP!!!!!!?????
Zachary: Sorry about that one (insert sad face here). If it makes you feel any better, Northwestern fans have been calling for OC Mick McCall's head for the past couple of years. The teams are kind of in the same boat when it comes to offensive coordinators. That boat looks like the Titanic sometimes.
T-Mill: Northwestern has a solid defense. What are its strengths?
Zachary: The bookend defensive ends-- Deonte Gibson on the right and Dean Lowry on the left-- is a particular strength. When they play well, it really opens things up for stud middle linebacker Anthony Walker, who is awesome when able to play downhill, but struggles when the offensive linemen win the battle. But the best group on this unit is the secondary. Matthew Harris is a standout athlete and Nick VanHoose has two interceptions in the past two games, including one he took 72 yards to the VanHOUSE against Nebraska.
T-Mill: In a battle of redshirt freshman quarterbacks who stands out between Blough and Thorson?
Zachary: Can I say neither? Thorson looked majorly improved against Nebraska, lighting it up with his legs in the first half and arm in the second half. But then he got rocked a couple times against Penn State. If he avoids turnovers and breaks contain, he's a pretty darn good quarterback, but you can say that about anyone. David Blough can put up some numbers too (see 4 TDs against Nebraska) but also struggles with consistency. To me, it's apples to oranges, with maybe a slight edge to Thorson simply because he's quarterbacking a team that's currently 7-2, not 2-7.
T-Mill: Can we cut a deal: You beat us by however much as long as we beat Iowa next week to help you win the West?
Zachary: YES PLEASE. Wildcat fans would root for Purdue forever if that happened and Iowa proceeded to collapse.
T-Mill: What would it take for Purdue to actually win this game?
Zachary: Turnovers and a Northwestern team caught looking ahead to next week's matchup with Wisconsin at Camp Randall. If the Wildcats can run the ball, it should be an easy day. If a dinged-up Thorson has to throw it a lot, that might give Purdue a sliver of hope. That's why they play the game, right?