Reaction: Ingalls to Saints
by Jonathan Hodges

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg (NU alum, of course) just broke the news that NU's offensive line coach Bret Ingalls is headed to take a position in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.  There, he will be united with NU product Zach Strief (although Strief graduated before Ingalls landed the NU job), who is a backup OT.  Ingalls has previous collegiate Division I experience as offensive coordinator at Idaho, Louisville, and San Diego State (FBS) as well as Indiana State and Northern Iowa (where he was a part of former NU OC Dunbar's staff) (FCS).  He was the offensive line coach at Northwestern for 3 seasons (2006-2008, coinciding with Fitz's tenure as head coach) and this season added the Run Game Coordinator title, as well.  This will be his first foray into the NFL coaching ranks.

Ingalls did a relatively impressive job this season with NU's inexperienced OL (featuring 3 redshirt freshmen and a converted member of the DL) as they allowed just 1.7 sacks/game (2nd in the conference).  The running game, though, didn't fare as well as ball carriers not named Tyrell Sutton netted just 3.1 yards/carry (Sutton averaged a respectable 4.8 yards/carry this season) - and the OL seemed to become more and more of a liability as the season went on.  Bret did rack up quite an impressive class of OL recruits in recent years, though, and NU began to see it come to fruition with this year's redshirt freshmen; they will be pushed by a solid class of recruits who redshirted this past fall (as well as top flight OL recruit Ward who is expected to come in with this year's recruiting class).

Fitzgerald must replace Ingalls with someone who can continue the work of molding the OL - a situation exacerbated by the youth on the line - and the coaches know that establishing a solid offensive line is the cornerstone of a good offense (as shown by the solid recruiting in that area over the past 2-3 years).  Ingalls will have a great opportunity to move up in the coaching world as he moves into the pro game for the first time, although former NU DL coach Washington learned that unless one performs, that time can be short lived (he was replaced as the Bears' DL coach this past week; his replacement: former Detroit Lions' coach Rod Marinelli, who led his team to an 0-16 record this past season - although, for the record, he was a very reputable assistant before taking on the head coaching gig).  In any case, Ingalls definitely leaves NU on good terms and I'm sure the entire Wildcat community wishes him the best of luck in his endeavors (and, hopefully, he can get Strief into that starting lineup).

Look for information on the new OL coach as it becomes available, as well as the first extremely premature previews for 2009 soon on HTP.

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.