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September 30, 2013

WR recognizes NU's best non-con performers



Before we look ahead to Ohio State and the Big Ten season, it's time to look back and hand out some awards for the non-conference part of the Wildcats' schedule. The Non-Connies, we'll call them.

We asked the four WildcatReport staff members who cover the team -- Aric DiLalla, Luke Srodulski, Louie Vaccher and Larry Watts -- for their thoughts on what they've seen so far from the 2013 Cats. This is what they had to say.



Offensive MVP: Tony Jones

Not surprisingly, Jones was a unanimous choice. The redshirt junior wide receiver leads Northwestern with 24 catches for 362 yards and three touchdowns receiving. His three scores place him tied for second-most on the team.

In the Big Ten, Jones ranks third in receptions (6.0 rpg) and yardage (90.5 ypg).

When Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian need a first down or a big play, they look for No. 6 breaking open from the slot position. He can stretch the field by getting open behind the defense, or he can turn a short throw into a long gain once the ball is in his hands.

"He has been the No. 1 receiver so far and has turned Northwestern's passing game into a threat," writes DiLalla.

Watts add that "this little guy is exceptional when it comes to yards after reception."



Defensive MVP: Dean Lowry

Lowry received three of the four votes from our staff, but you don't have to take our word about how good Lowry has been: trust Northwestern's coaches.

They gave the sophomore defensive end the defensive player of the week award twice in the first three weeks of the season, for performances against Syracuse and Western Michigan. For good measure, he got the defensive big playmaker honor for his work against Cal.

Lowry, who garnered very little media attention before the season, has been busy this year filling out every line on his stat sheet. Thus far, he has rung up eight tackles, three TFL, two sacks, two interceptions, three passes broken up, five passes defensed, two quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Not bad for just 16 quarters of football.

"Quite frankly, he's been a force with which to be reckoned," writes DiLalla. "When you watch the D-line, it's sometimes hard to remember that Tyler Scott was the one who finished with all those sacks last year."



Surprise Player: Treyvon Green

Very few, if any, would have picked Green to be the team's leading rusher and scorer through four games -- including Green himself. The junior was a forgotten man in the running back rotation last season, but this year he has almost triple the carries through four games (58) than he had last year through 13 (22).

Green has rushed for 412 yards and six touchdowns, ranking fourth in the Big Ten with 101.0 yards per game. He is also averaging a whopping 7.0 yards per carry.

Green stepped into the void created by Venric Mark's injury, but it's the way he's done it that has gotten the attention of Vaccher.

"Who knew that Green had that kind of burst?" wrote Vaccher.

Indeed, the slimmed down but sped up junior has four runs over 25 yards, including a 55-yarder, and 42- and 33-yard touchdown dashes.



Player that needs to step up: Dwight White

When a guard makes a mistake and misses an assignment, it is often hard to detect. When White misses an assignment as a cornerback, everyone in the stadium knows it.

The redshirt freshman got his baptism by fire against Cal in the opener, giving up a few long passes that included a 52-yard touchdown after starter Daniel Jones went down with a season-ending ACL tear. White's problem is that his erratic play has continued; he seems to give up at least one big play in each game.

White was victimized on a 59-yarder against Maine two weeks ago that has fans wondering what Ohio State will be able to do to him on Saturday night.

"Is everyone going to say Dwight White here?" asked DiLalla. "They should. He has been the noticeable weak link in the NU defense."

"It may be just one play [a game]," states Vaccher, "but one play can get you beat."

Don't be surprised if true freshman Matthew Harris gets a shot at White's starting job.



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