Northwestern has little to go on for opener vs. Cal, new coach
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter August 26, 2013 10:32PM
Northwestern University Football against Army
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.”