Team preview: Northwestern
The Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook previews the 2006 Northwestern Wildcats, exclusively on Insider.
The refrain should sound familiar to Northwestern fans by now -- this is the year that the Wildcats' defense will improve enough to provide a capable companion to their first-class offense. Once again last season, the discrepancy could not have been more glaring. Northwestern ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense, and No. 11 in total defense. The 'Cats were No. 1 in passing offense, No. 10 in pass defense. They were No. 5 in rushing offense, No. 10 defending the run.
If the balance returns, it could come with improvement from the defense, but it's more likely that the offense will take a step back with the loss of a key pair of four-year starters in quarterback Brett Basanez and tackle Zach Strief. The defense also has to find a replacement for its own four-year starter, linebacker Tim McGarigle. But the 'Cats also played 11 freshmen last year and 24 freshmen overall, which ranked the program third in the country in number of freshmen playing. So there's some talent handy.