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Northwestern struggles offensively but defeats Maine

Dean Lowry Marcus Wasilewski

Dean Lowry, Marcus Wasilewski

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Maine 0 0 7 14—21

Northwestern 7 7 7 14—35

First Quarter

NU—T.Jones 27 pass from Colter (Budzien kick), 10:18.

Second Quarter

NU—Proby 49 interception return (Budzien kick), :42.

Third Quarter

NU—Lowry 19 interception return (Budzien kick), 10:37.

ME—Perillo 11 pass from Wasilewski (Decloux kick), 3:02.

Fourth Quarter

NU—Trumpy 7 run (Budzien kick), 14:55.

Me—Ebeling 1 pass from Wasilewski (Decloux kick), 11:06.

NU—Colter 5 run (Budzien kick), 7:49.

Me—N.Jones 10 run (Decloux kick), 2:22.

A—32,726.

TEAM STATS ME NU

First downs 23 20

Rushes-yards 30-107 49-251

Passing 272 122

Comp-Att-Int 29-47-2 10-17-1

Return Yards 19 74

Punts-Avg. 3-32.3 3-41.3

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1

Penalties-Yards 3-20 5-45

Time of Possession 33:10 26:50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Maine, N.Jones 16-73, Wasilewski 9-19, Ebeling 2-9, Stevens 2-8, Team 1-(minus 2). Northwestern, Trumpy 17-94, Buckley 7-53, Green 9-51, Colter 12-38, Siemian 2-11, Long 2-4.

PASSING—Maine, Wasilewski 25-40-2-237, Collins 4-6-0-35, Ebeling 0-1-0-0. Northwestern, Colter 5-9-1-85, Siemian 5-8-0-37.

RECEIVING—Maine, Perillo 8-81, D.Johnson 7-90, Ebeling 5-44, Aultman 5-22, Dunn 1-22, Reuss 1-5, Stevens 1-4, Williams 1-4. Northwestern, T.Jones 6-69, C.Jones 2-34, K.Prater 1-18, Vitale 1-1.

Updated: October 23, 2013 6:49AM



Northwestern didn’t play to its potential in any of its four nonconference games this season.

At Cal, the Wildcats struggled to finish in the red zone. Against Syracuse, NU struggled to finish off the Orange in the second half. Against Western Michigan, the Wildcats started out slowly. And in a 35-21 victory Saturday against Maine, NU couldn’t generate any offensive consistency.

Still, the No. 18 Wildcats (4-0) are undefeated and clearly talented. Act like it, and all those mistakes might disappear.

‘‘Coach [Pat] Fitz[gerald] has been on us about that,’’ NU wide receiver Tony Jones said. ‘‘We’re ranked, [so] let’s go out there and have some swag. I’ve seen glimpses of it. Obviously, we just need to play a lot better. Swag is depending on how you’re playing. So I think we just have to step it up.’’

Against Maine, there wasn’t really a doubt the Wildcats would win the game. At times, though, it appeared NU thought the Black Bears belonged in it.

As Jones alluded to, there were moments where the Wildcats showed flashes of the confidence they will need to bring to the field when they host No. 4 Ohio State on Oct. 5. It mostly came on defense, though, where they returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

Offensively, NU looked frustrated. Throughout the game, the Wildcats struggled to run the read-option, which is the cornerstone of their no-huddle offense.

At times, quarterback Kain Colter had difficulty reading when to pitch the ball and struggled to see the pass rush coming. Fitzgerald said he will need to watch the tape to determine exactly what needs to be corrected in the next two weeks, but he said he was confident after what he thought was a solid nonconference season overall.

Jones explained exactly how he would like the offense to exude more self-assuredness.

‘‘Just guys on each other’s hats, celebrating,’’ Jones said. ‘‘Just a confident demeanor about ourselves. But, obviously, that confidence has got to translate over to execution.’’

Because it has next Saturday off, NU won’t practice until Thursday. Fitzgerald said the bye week is well-timed, giving the Wildcats an opportunity to rest and correct their mistakes before beginning to game-plan for the Buckeyes.

‘‘This team needs to start school and get a week off, and then I think we can fix the things that we need to correct and we need to fix,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘I think when you sputter a little bit on offense, I think sometimes the guys start trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s our job to help them and correct them.’’

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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