Commentary: The Events of Friday the Thirteenth
by Jonathan Hodges

Friday, August 13th was quite an eventful (and not all bad, at least) day for the Wildcats, so I'll break down all the preseason action of the day (and evening before) here.  I'll stick with the good news first.

Northwestern to Play Duke 2015-18

Duke announced via its athletics website that Northwestern has agreed to play the Blue Devils on the gridiron from 2015.  Games will be played in Durham in 2015 and 2017 with the matchups in Evanston in 2016 and 2018.  This will resume the series that was last played in 2007-08, with each team winning as a visitor (yes, that includes the astounding NU loss to otherwise winless Duke in '07).

The teams have played 16 times in football and are tied 8-8.  Duke is consistent with Northwestern's scheduling philosophy of playing like-minded schools, i.e. academically-focused BCS conference members (Vanderbilt is on the schedule this season, while Stanford and Boston College are on the slate for future seasons).  Although the 'Cats have had some disappointing results against Duke in recent years (1998 being the other disastrous loss), this opponent fits how Northwestern wants to schedule games going forward.

Northwestern Confirms New Uniforms

As was rumored over the summer, is present in the NCAA 2011 video game from EA Sports, and was reported by Spread Far the Fame in March, Northwestern effectively confirmed the fact that the Wildcats will have new uniforms in 2010 via the 2010 Media Guide (page 17).

Some minor details are reportedly still being finalized and replicas should be available for purchase within the next couple weeks, but the redesign looks very close to what has been reported leading into the season.  It features the return of Northwestern stripes on the sleeves and on the sides of the pants.  Although the current jersey colors have been retained (purple home and white away), the purple pants have been replaced by black ones (again, with stripes present).

The previous incarnation had been around since 2003, as can be seen in the HailToPurple Uniform History.  Black pants (without stripes) had been worn with that version of the jersey when Northwestern played Ohio State in 2006 and Duke in 2007.

This move melds tradition (in the form of Northwestern stripes) with a modern look (inclusion of black) while providing some continuity with the previous design.

The uniforms are expected to be officially unveiled at Meet the Team Night on August 27 and will be worn when the regular season kicks off on September 4.

Pat Fitzgerald TV Show Announced

Again, in the 2010 Media Guide (page 173), Northwestern announces the new Pat Fitzgerald Show to be shown both locally (on Comcast SportsNet Chicago) and nationally (on the Big Ten Network), which will be the first dedicated Northwestern coach's TV show since the Randy Walker Show went off the air soon after Coach Walker arrived.  It will be a weekly show with the air time TBD.

This has been something called upon by Wildcat fans ever since Coach Walker ended his show, and a personality like Fitz will be a great presence on TV and should be at the very least a boon for the program in terms of recruiting and exposure both locally and nationally.  It's also clear that this is part of the program to market Northwestern football to Chicago.  Definitely something to watch for.

Bad News: Injuries

Guess you can't escape training camp/Friday the 13th without bad news, and it came in the form of injuries.  The following players will miss at least the first game of the season and quite possibly more:

LB Roderick Goodlow (knee)
S David Arnold (foot)
LB Tim Riley (shoulder)
WR Tony Jones (shoulder)

The injury that "hurts" the most is Arnold, who was in competition for a starting safety spot with Jared Carpenter.  Arnold played LB last season and S before that and garners a good amount of experience (note that Carpenter did play some last year as well).  This definitely hurts the depth of the secondary, and removes the possibility of fielding an experienced backup safety.

Goodlow was talented enough to play last year as a true freshman (sparingly on defense but quite often on special teams), and his loss hurts the depth, although there are others there who can contribute as backups (Nwabuisi in the middle and either McNaul or Johnson on the outside).  The loss of Riley also reduced the depth, but, again, LB was essentially the deepest and most experienced unit on the team so the 'Cat should be able to survive these losses.

Finally, Jones, a true freshman who looked good in camp so far was lost, but, as a true freshman, his playing time would have been short, if anything.  His presence would have helped if he had worked his way onto the playing field, but it isn't a major loss at this point.

A primary goal of any camp is to get through unscathed, and unfortunately the 'Cats did not succeed in that category once again (last year the loss was RB Alex Daniel, who currently is not on the team).  Hopefully Northwestern will have shed the injury bug here in the preseason and not have to go through significant losses during the year (which has been an issue during Fitz's head coaching tenure).

Go 'Cats!!!

e-mail: j-hodges@alumni.northwestern.edu

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jhodges is the primary content provider of HailToPurple.com.  His commentary and game analyses appear regularly during the season and occasionally in the offseason.