Don’t call it a quarterback controversy.
Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian continue to split time under center, but a new wrinkle entered the Wildcat offense against Indiana: Colter at wide receiver.
“I think we’re just trying to find a way to get our best 11 on the field,” Northwestern quarterbacks Pat Fitzgerald said. “We walked out of the first four games and said every time we took Kain off the field, we looked at ourselves collectively as a coaching staff and said ‘What are we doing here?’”
The two quarterbacks are sharing the duties, and it doesn't look like one will win the job permanently anytime soon. Despite that, the offense the two players ran against Indiana were extremely different. Siemian went 22-32 for 308 yards; Colter went 1-3 for just two yards, but ran it 14 times for 161 yards and four touchdowns.
Colter added nine catches for 131 yards in the passing game, and was Siemian’s best target – no other receiver had more than four catches.
“He did a good job shaking loose and beating his guy,” Siemian said. “I don’t think they had an answer for Kain all day, at receiver or at quarterback, whatever he was.”
Fitzgerald said the coaches make decisions on which quarterback should play before the game, but the flow of the game also influences the decision.
“Obviously with Kain’s involvement in the offense today, we knew he was going to get worn down, so there’s times that we wanted to get him some rest,” Fitzgerald said. “And also we thought we saw some things schematically that we could take advantage of with Trevor.”
Colter is no stranger to playing wide receiver, as he spent a lot of time lined up there last season when Dan Persa returned from injury. Last season, Colter joked that he would like a game where he goes 100-100-100 – triple digits in passing, rushing and receiving yards. The dream is still very much alive.
“It’d be awesome to get it, but I think the biggest thing we want to get is a W and we were able to get that today, so whatever comes with that, we’ll take it,” Colter said.
And though Colter had more rushing touchdowns than passing attempts, Fitzgerald said, “We believe in Kain as a thrower, trust me on that.”
This new offense was unveiled this week but the Wildcats have been practicing with both quarterbacks on the field for two weeks, keeping the formation quiet for strategic purposes. Fitzgerald and Colter both suggested that what was shown today is far from the end.
“We are just getting started, I’ll put it that way, with things we’re gonna do,” Fitzgerald said.
Colter added: “I think that there’s a lot of ways we could go with this, we finally decided to bring it out this week… The key thing is we can go a lot of ways with this. You might see Trevor at receiver and me at quarterback.”
Siemian enjoyed the thought.
“I like that a lot actually, I like the idea of me catching the ball.”
Whether or not Siemian ever records a reception on the year, expect a few more wrinkles in the Northwestern offense going forward.