The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 192 of 275

THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 191 10 NORTHWESTERN • NOV. 8 BY RYAN TICE Northwestern followed up its school-re- cord-tying 10-win season in 2012 with a disappointing 5-7 mark that included just one Big Ten victory last year. The Wildcats opened with a quartet of non-conference wins before dropping the next seven games, including four straight by a touchdown or less. They avoided being skunked in league play with a win at Illinois, but did not do well with a razor-thin margin of error and several injuries. Fifth-year senior running back Venric Mark is the most proven player on the squad, but he was limited to three games last year. He ranks fourth in program history with 4,271 all-purpose yards and has totaled 17 touchdowns during his career. It will be interesting to see how the pint- sized, but dynamic, rusher fits into an offense that is expected to rely on the run less with the graduation of athletic quarterback Kain Col- ter, another who was limited by injuries last year. Northwestern may even become a pass- ing offense under the guidance of fifth-year senior Trevor Siemian, who started just twice in 2013 while battling injuries of his own but passed for 2,149 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has split time with Colter over the last three seasons, but is not a dual threat. Senior running back Treyvon Green is bigger than Mark, and he filled in admirably last season. He paced the Wildcats with 736 yards and eight touchdowns, and is just one of several capable backups — Athlon tabbed Northwestern with the 21st-best group of rushers in the land. The Cats couldn't be in a better position out wide, where each of last year's top three receivers return. Wideouts Tony Jones and Christian Jones, as well as superback Dan Vitale, all return after combining for 143 catches, 1,680 yards and 11 touchdowns. Every offensive lineman who logged a start in 2013 returns, but coaches tinkered with the lineup in the spring and there are several dif- ferent ways things could shake out. The defense had to utilize six different starting lineups last season, but seven players who opened at least eight games return. Top tackler Damien Proby and top sacker Tyler Scott are big losses, but others are ready to step in. The Wildcats' best playmaker could be fifth-year senior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, who leads all returning Big Ten defensive players with 106 tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions last year. Classmate Ibraheim Campbell is a steady performer at safety and joined Ariguzo as a 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention pick. In his three years as a starter, Campbell has notched at least 73 tackles and two intercep- tions during each campaign. Two of the team's other three players with at least two picks return, though neither one is a defensive back. Fifth-year linebacker Collin Ellis finished with 78 tackles and snared three picks while he tied Camp- bell for the team lead with nine passes de- fended. Junior defensive end Dean Lowry intercepted two passes, to go along with 4.5 sacks. Lowry and Ellis returned three of their combined five picks for touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore pass rushing specialist Ifeadi Odenigbo logged only nine tackles, but 5.5 were sacks to rank second on the squad. The secondary is loaded in addition to Camp- bell with returning starters Traveon Henry and Nick VanHoose — they combined for 138 stops and 10 passes defended in 2013. The team tied for sixth nationally with 19 interceptions a year ago and should be able to duplicate that effort with so many return- ers — but they can't rank 99th nationally in pass defense (256.2 yards per game) again. Northwestern was probably just a few plays from enjoying a completely different season last year. They're likely to be in a bunch of close games again, but missing Ohio State and Michigan State in crossover play should mean they're bowling for the sixth time in the last seven years. Notes While the Wildcats did a great job intercepting passes, they recovered only four fumbles — which tied for the lowest mark in the nation … Lindy's ranked three Wildcats among the top 10 at their positions in the nation, tabbing fifth- year senior running back Venric Mark as the No. 6 all-purpose player, senior Brandon Vitabile as the No. 6 center and fifth-year senior Ibraheim Campbell as the No. 10 safety … Northwestern was 6-3 in games decided by 11 points or less in 2012, but dipped to 1-5 in such contests last year. ❑ 2014 SCHEDULE Date Opponent 2013 Result Aug. 30 California W, 44-30 Sept. 6 Northern Illinois — Sept. 20 Western Illinois — Sept. 27 at Penn State — Oct. 4 Wisconsin L, 35-6 Oct. 11 at Minnesota L, 20-17 Oct. 18 Nebraska L, 27-24 Nov. 1 at Iowa L, 17-10 OT Nov. 8 Michigan L, 27-19 3OT Nov. 15 at Notre Dame — Nov. 22 at Purdue — Nov. 29 Illinois W, 37-34 QUICK FACTS All-Time Series: U-M leads 55-15-2 First Meeting: NW 10, U-M 8 (Oct. 29, 1892, at Chicago) Last Meeting: U-M 27, NW 19 3OT (Nov. 16, 2013, at Evanston, Ill.) Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald, 55-46 at Northwestern and overall (9th year) Off./Def. Systems: Spread/Multiple 4-3 2013 in Review: 5-7 overall, 1-7 Big Ten (6th Legends Division) Final 2013 Ranking: Unranked Returning Starters: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense) Last Bowl Appearance: 2013 (Gator, vs. Mississippi State, W 34-20) Big Ten Conference Championships (last): 8 (2000) RETURNING LEADERS Passing: Trevor Siemian (2,149 yards, 11 TD, 9 INT) Rushing: Treyvon Green (736 yards, 8 TD) Receiving: Tony Jones (630 yards, 4 TD) Tackles: Chi Chi Ariguzo (106) Sacks: Ifeadi Odenigbo (5.5) Interceptions: Chi Chi Ariguzo and Ibraheim Camp- bell (4) PLAYERS TO WATCH Offense: Venric Mark, 5th-Sr., RB — The 5-8, 175-pounder was limited to three games last year and received a medical redshirt … In 2012, he was a first-team All- American punt returner and con- sensus second-team All-Big Ten running back … Totaled 15 touch- downs, 1,366 rushing yards and 2,166 all-purpose yards during the 2012 campaign. Defense: Ibraheim Campbell, 5th-Sr., S — The three-year starter earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors from media and coaches last year … Tied for third in the league with four interceptions and finished fifth on the team with 73 tackles … Has career totals of 262 tackles, 21 passes defended and eight interceptions. Wildcats Look For Rebound With Numerous Key Pieces Back Fifth-year senior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo's 106 tackles last year top all returning Big Ten defensive players, and he tied for the team lead with four interceptions. PHOTO BY STEPHEN CARRERA/NORTHWESTERN ATHLETICS 182-193.Opponents.indd 191 6/19/14 1:12 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2014 Michigan Football Preview