"We started off strong that first week with four sacks," Lowry said Monday of the Wildcat defensive line. "But we definitely need to finish the play."
Northwestern has registered just one sack over its past two games, despite eight quarterback hurries. Two of those came from Lowry, the sophomore who continues to garner comparisons to Tyler Scott and still shows an unlimited ceiling as he warrants more reps.
Maybe I shouldn't be trusted: no dice on last week's choice, Rashad Lawrence, who failed to make a reception against Western Michigan. But watching just a few minutes of a practice scrimmage set shows Lowry's explosiveness off the edge, his impressive array of swims and rips on opposing tackles and his consistent energy alongside one of the best defensive ends in the Big Ten.
Although Lowry didn't have a sack last Saturday, he did lead the team in quarterback hurries. Far more telling is his ability to disrupt the passing game at the line of scrimmage, instead of five yards behind it. Lowry has more pass breakups than Tyler Scott, is second only to Collin Ellis in pass deflections, and is one of three Wildcats with a forced fumble so far this year. For a player that's technically still a part-time end, Lowry is far more versatile than you'd expect.
"Dean's bursting on the scene right now," fellow defensive end Deonte Gibson told me after practice this week. "The hype he's getting around himself is well-deserved."
Maine's only allowed two sacks for a combined five yards lost through three FCS wins. Only one of the Black Bears' starting linemen, though, has more experience than Lowry, and only one (6-6, 305 lb. Tyler Patterson), has any size worth reporting. Lowry and the rest of the Northwestern D-line are in for quite a day.
Of course, Lowry has to be mentioned with the rest of the D-line. It's one of the most interconnected units in football, and if just one of the four guys up front beat the man in front of him, the lanes start opening up for the other three.
Tyler Scott should expect double teams, while Chance Carter and Will Hampton are both athletic enough to create mismatches on sluggish Maine guards. Then there's that four-end line the Cats use on passing downs, a formation that's nightmarish for overmatched teams like the Black Bears. It's especially helpful for Lowry, who plays on the inside, watches the pocket collapse with Scott and Ifeadi Odenigbo rushing the edge and then torches interior linemen who can't match his speed.
It should be a big game for the entire D-line. But everyone from Hampton to Deonte Gibson to Pat Fitzgerald is raving about Dean Lowry, and for good reason. Expect a second sack Saturday, and heck, maybe even a second forced fumble. Now get hyped.
Hype Machine Picks:
Week 1: Collin Ellis— 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns
Week 2: Traveon Henry— Eight tackles, interception
Week 3: Rashad Lawrence— Zero receptions
Week 4: Dean Lowry