Northwestern Primed to Defend Big Ten West Crown


Northwestern football is gearing up for another season after winning the Big-Ten West last year with a clean 6-0 division record and landing a bid to the Holiday Bowl. There’s new hope for Northwestern offensive line with the promise of a new OL coach and the addition of former 5-star recruit quarterback, Hunter Johnson, a transfer from Clemson University. They have lost some of their star players, due to injury. However, there are a few newcomers who show promise for both the offensive and defensive lines.

Some key players Northwestern has lost this season include Nate Hall, Jordan Thompson, Fredd Wyatt, and Ben Oxley for the defense. For the offense, which may be even bigger losses, including Clayton Thorson, former quarterback who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. Running back, Jeremy Larkin, was forced to retire due to a diagnosis of Cervical Stenosis. Cam Green also was forced to retire from football due to concussions and head injuries. Losing three of their top offensive players in one season will leave the offense with big shoes to fill.

Here to fill those shoes will be returning running back, Isaiah Bowser and new quarterback Hunter Johnson. Having a strong running back like Bowser will likely give Johnson an easier time by taking some of the pressure off of him and will create more opportunities on the field. Bowser will be supported by fellow running backs John Moten IV, Drake Anderson, and Jesse Brown. Returning wideout starters will include Bennett Skowronek, Riley Lees, and Ramaud Chiachio Bowman. Last January Northwestern named Kurt Anderson the new offensive line coach. Anderson was the former quality control analyst. With this coaching transition the offense will be given an opportunity to rebound this season and create more depth with different strategies. In order to have a more effective season than in ‘18 it will be critical for the Wildcats to create more scoring opportunities this than they have in previous years.

On the defensive side of things, senior star, Joe Gazziano will be returning to the field. Last season he had 44 tackle tackles, 7.5 sacks, and caused 3 fumbles. Other notable returning players include Paddy Fisher, Blake Gallagher and Chris Bergin. The newcomers that will be joining the team this year will be Duke Ogles, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Jason and Gold Jr. Alex. The defensive line will take a hit with the loss of Thompson but it is likely Senior Alex Miller will step into his position. Overall, the defense will have to worry about replacing their strong tackles but if they are able to do so they show promise to have a powerful season as they have in the past.

Looking forward onto the 2019 season it is likely the Wildcats will make it to a Bowl game once again, assuming they fill the gaps in their defense and increase their scoring opportunities on offense. Competition this year will be tight against their Big-Ten West competition, specifically Michigan State. Winning another Big-Ten West title will be hard to do, but with the promise of Hunter Johnson and other notable newcomers, this looks to be a good season of football ahead for the Wildcats.

Written by Maddie Schaafsma

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