posttrib
HISTORIC 
Weather Updates

Northwestern has little to go on for opener vs. Cal, new coach

Northwestern University Football against Army

Northwestern University Football against Army

storyidforme: 54114578
tmspicid: 19910702
fileheaderid: 9128812
Article Extras
Story Image

For Northwestern, preparing for the season opener Saturday at California is like putting together a puzzle.

The Wildcats know the personnel, but aside from watching the Golden Bears’ spring game, Northwestern hasn’t seen how new coach Sonny Dykes will use the personnel.

While Cal has a plethora of game film on a Northwestern team that returns 15 starters from last season, the Wildcats have to watch old film of Cal’s players and study film of Louisiana Tech, where Dykes spent the last three seasons.

Luckily for Northwestern, school hasn’t started, so the team can spend extra time in the film room.

“Our guys are going to take advantage of that,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said Monday. “We won’t be in a training-camp mode, though. We won’t have them here all day. We have a very specific plan for this week.

“It puts more on your plate when you [know] they have everything on us. So they’ve got a definite advantage from a standpoint of what their coaches have to do to teach their players. From our standpoint, we’re very fortunate we’re not in school.”

The biggest challenge remains on defense. At Louisiana Tech, Dykes’ “Air Raid” offense led the nation last season with 577.9 yards and 51.5 points per game.

While it’s a relatively simple offense schematically, Fitzgerald said it puts tremendous pressure on the defense to stay disciplined.

Dykes’ offense isn’t stacked with plays. Instead, each play has variations, almost always with a run-pass option.

“We don’t have much film, other than the spring game,” Wildcats defensive end Tyler Scott said. “You don’t get those angles of being behind and to the side. It’s more just the side, and I think the most challenging thing right now is definitely the personnel.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.