Post-Game Analysis: South Dakota
by Jonathan Hodges

Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) has now gone undefeated against regular season non-conference foes three times under Coach Fitz after failing to do so between 1963 and 2008 with
a comfortable 38-7 win over FCS member South Dakota (1-2). The 'Cats unsurprisingly came out running and rode its stable of running backs to victory as they accumulated 277 yards on the ground and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, USD failed to get any kind of a ground game going with NU holding them to 51 net rushing yards (NU now ranks 11th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 73 yards per game) which took the Coyotes out of their comfort zone and it showed.

The Wildcats ran out to a 28-0 first half lead thanks to a great day on the ground by Venric Mark, who finished with 117 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. Backups Treyvon Green and Tyris Jones also added rushing TDs. Otherwise, it was a relatively uneventful day; there were a couple of injury scares with hard hits on QBs Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian but they both returned to the game after the aforementioned hits. The backups got plenty of playing time and NU went to 4-0 on the season, equaling Ohio State and Minnesota as the only Big Ten teams to make it out of non-conference play unscathed.

Player of the Game: Northwestern Offensive Line (5.2 yards per carry, 2 sacks allowed) Although the OL allowed some pressure to get to the QBs at times, they spent most of the day paving the way for NU's RBs to gain a ton of yards and run their way to an easy win. Backups got tons of playing time in the second half and they still bulldozed the opposition.

Northwestern Honorable Mentions: RB Venric Mark (16 carries for 117 yards, 3 TDs; 1 reception for 3 yards; 1 punt return for 4 yards), WR Tony Jones (4 receptions for 63 yards), P Brandon Williams (3 punts for 56.7 yards per punt, 61 yard long, 2 inside the 20), Defensive Line (2.2 yards per carry allowed, 51.5% opponent completion rate).

What to Work on: Staying Focused. Fitz seemed to do a good job this past week of keeping the Wildcats on task and focusing on their own performance, and that will have to continue against an Indiana team that will certainly test the Northwestern secondary in both teams' Big Ten opener. NU will have to continue the defensive improvement we've seen over the past three games and will have to again take care of business as the favorite but against a more talented Big Ten team.

Go 'Cats!!!

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

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