When Texas A&M lit up South Carolina on the opening night of the 2014 college football season behind a quarterback not named Johnny Manziel, the world was shocked. But Kevin Sumlin, the Texas A&M head coach, wasn't. He defended his team as more than just a "one-trick pony."
Well, another Heisman candidate quarterback from last season moved on from his team in Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch. And after the Huskies poured 55 points all over Presbyterian in their season-opening win, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald — who will lead his Wildcats against NIU this weekend — knows he won't be going up against a one-trick pony, either.
"I think I heard coach Sumlin say they weren't a one-trick pony in College Station. I don't think they're a one-trick pony either in DeKalb," Fitzgerald said Monday at his weekly press conference. "And I think they're an outstanding football team and an outstanding offense, and they run the ball very, very well. And that compliments often in the pass game.”
[MORE BIG TEN: Justin Jackson jumps up Northwestern depth chart after debut]
The Huskies might not have Lynch anymore, but that didn't stop them from continuing the kind of offensive excellence they displayed when the third-place Heisman finisher was running the show. Particularly in the running game, NIU dominated, racking up 424 yards. The team ran an astounding 108 plays. It was a crushing.
So who are the new guys at quarterback? And there are guys, plural. NIU played three different quarterbacks in their Week 1 romp. Matt McIntosh, Drew Hare and Anthony Maddle combined to complete 19 of 32 passing attempts for 211 yards and two TDs. They combined for 129 yards on the ground. Those 340 total yards and two touchdowns sure sound like a Jordan Lynch kind of day.
[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern dismisses notion that NIU is 'playing up']
It was announced that McIntosh would be the starter for the game this Saturday at Ryan Field.
“Well he played last week, and he did a very nice job," Fitzgerald said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference. "Very athletic. He understands their system well, and the offensive production they got out of all their skill players was very impressive.”
And Northwestern knows what's coming. Fitzgerald raved about the Huskies on Monday and dismissed the notion that they were "playing up" to a Big Ten team, certainly not after beating two Big Ten teams a year ago. Yes, the NIU offense is different without the all-time kind of threat that Lynch was. But after watching a 55-3 pounding by NIU last week, Fitzgerald knows this is the same kind of team.
“I would say after just one snapshot in a blowout," Fitzgerald said Tuesday, "there’s a lot more similarities than differences.”