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Northwestern planning to get its act together

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The facts: 2:30 p.m., BTN, 1000-AM.

Updated: October 16, 2012 6:13AM

Conclusions drawn after Northwestern’s season-opening victory against Syracuse were less accurate after the Wildcats knocked off Vanderbilt last week. That means the essential question still lurks as Northwestern prepares for the game Saturday against Boston College at Ryan Field.

How good are these guys?

Are they an offensive-oriented team that must win shootouts, which seemed to be the case after the 42-41 win over the Orange. Or are they a defensive team that struggles with offensive consistency, which it appeared after they defeated the Commodores 23-13?

“We’ve gotten a glimpse of all three phases from special teams to defense to offense,” senior linebacker David Nwabuisi said. “It’s going to be crazy when we put all three together for a game. That’s when we’re going to know how good we can really be. So far, we haven’t been able to put all three phases together for four quarters. Once we do that, we’re going to be a scary team, somebody to be reckoned with.”

If the offense can be more consistent, especially in the passing game, and the defense can play more like it did against Vanderbilt, history could be in the making. With South Dakota, Indiana, Penn State and Minnesota next on the schedule, the Wildcats have a chance to be the first Northwestern team since 1936 to start 7-0, assuming they can beat Boston College, which also is searching for an identity.

“We don’t really get a lot of respect in the media,” running back Venric Mark said. “We’re 2-0 right now. It doesn’t matter. We’re just going to take it one game at a time.”

Getting to 3-0 could be a challenge considering Boston College’s passing game. It ranks 15th in the country (330 yards per game) and more resembles Syracuse’s attack than Vanderbilt’s. Quarterback Chase Rettig has completed 58 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and one interception.

“We know that’s what’s going to happen,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said of the Eagles attacking the Wildcats’ secondary similar to how the Orange did. “We’d be burying our head in the sand not to think that. We’ve got to take that kind of approach and attitude that the same thing is going to happen.”

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