For the Defense: Henderson & Cole

Cole & McPherson Making Plays on D

The Northwestern Defense is still mired at the bottom of the Big 10 statistics, but if you've been following the games closely, you'll notice that a unit that had been struggling seems to be gaining more stops, including two critical interceptions to essentially end games. Here are the post game comments from two of the defensive backs who are leading that return to the "Bend - don't Break Defense" for the Wildcats.

The NU Defense is starting to show signs of life
A week ago, one linebacker, Tim McGarigle, had more tackles than the rest of the team. This week, 7 players had 5 or more.

Last week we had just finished another defensive backfield shuffle, with Herschel Henderson moving to safety, and first Corey Dious, then Deante Battle taking over at right corner. This week we had the same defensive backfield that held off Wisconsin's last quarter charge, and Saturday they played arguably better. According to Henderson,
You can tell we're getting comfortable out there and very confident.
Battle was the player in on that Purdue fumble in the end zone that changed from a Boilermaker score to an NU possession.

Collectively, the 5 D-Backs had 27 tackles, 3 pass deflections and two interceptions, in a game where the defensive line had only one tackle for a loss, and no QB hurries [although fans saw Barry Cofield hot on the QB's trail a few times].

Herschel Henderson also had a decent day; 8 tackles, 7 unassisted, 2 passes deflected, and a forced fumble. and he talked about his physical contributions to the D:
We've got to give credit to the D Line - they were getting great pressure on the quarterback, forcing him to throw it early, so I was able to read the quarterback and follow my read.
He was asked about the change from corner to safety
It wasn't hard, once I get comfortable to corner, they move me to safety, so I think I'm getting used to both of them, getting comfortable with both of them.
It appeared that Henderson set the tone in the first half, with several hard hits [and a few flags] and a forced fumble, that gave the O extra chances to score.
The D line, once again, got good pressure, then the linebackers were able to get good drops forcing the quarterback to lob it, and I was able to break on the ball and make some good plays.
Marquice Cole is the only starter that's played the same position all season. He was pumped up over the defense's play all game.
It was really thrilling coming out and just making stops and going out and hitting people, just trying to make plays.
Cole was asked about the huddle talk prior to that final big defensive play,
We were just talking about going out and making plays - we knew he was going to have to throw the ball, so just being smart, but if you can, if you read it good, jump it and that's what I did.

I read it good and just jumped it.
Every week you've been up against the other team's top wide receiver, and today was not different - Purdue has a good variety of wideouts.
That's true and they kept throwing the quick pass and its hard to come up to that because they'll launch it deep so you had to be on your toes the whole game.
And beating Purdue for the last time Herschel Henderson?
It feels great, but we've got to look forward to next weekend and beat Michigan State.

I feel we'll be right in the hunt and making plays - we gotta keep getting one week better.
MSU lost to Ohio State Saturday. With their pass oriented offense, they should provide another test for the Cat's new confidence on defense

Herschel Henderson and Marquice Cole's comments from the WGN Postgame

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