I know. I know. I’ve been somewhat sarcastic about tomorrow’s clash with the Eagles. But in all seriousness, there are some important things to be on the lookout for in tomorrow’s game.
- The play of Justan Vaughn.
I’ve watched the Towson tape, and it’s not pretty. The minute Vaughn replaces McManis in the game at cornerback, the Tigers start going after him…again and again. And it worked. The Tigers were able to launch two scoring drives thanks to passes near the sideline where their receivers beat Vaughn. I do not expect McManis to play Saturday as he is listed as “doubtful” on the injury report. If it were against a Big Ten power like PSU, McManis would play, but this is the team whose motto is “Embrace the Process”, so needless to say McManis is not going to see the field. It is crucial that Vaughn show the coaching staff he can be an able replacement at cornerback. Pat Fitzgerald has talked constantly about this possibly being the deepest team NU has ever had, well now it’s Vaughn’s chance to prove him right.
- Who will emerge at running back?
I see this as a two-man race. It’s between junior Stephen Simmons and true freshman Arby Fields. Fields had an odd first game against Towson. He ran for a couple of touchdowns, but cramped up and had to leave the game. Fields said it was due to a lack of hydration the night before, and Fitzgerald labeled it as “unacceptable.” On the other hand, I like that Fitz is being so harsh with Fields, both in the media, and, based on reports, during practice as well. It shows he has some high expectations for the youngster from California. Watch closely the situation at running back tomorrow…something tells me “running back by committee” will be no more when the ‘Cats head to Syracuse.
- Kafka’s legs.
It will be very interesting to see if the Wildcats call more designed QB runs this week. Kafka finished with only 6 yds of rushing against Towson, but the Wildcats used a very vanilla offensive (and defensive) playbook. I suspect they’re going to keep it pretty plain against the team currently ranked 2nd in ESPN’s “Bottom 10.” At the same time, they’ll also want Kafka to get in to the groove a bit because he’s going to need his legs later on this year.
One more thing to watch, how much playing time Corey Wootton gets. NU was understandably very cautious with him in week one.