Northwestern’s Venric Mark didn’t play in last year’s Nebraska football classic, but if he did, that Hail Mary might’ve never needed to happen. The shifty Wildcat back made life hell for defensive coordinators when healthy.
In 2012, Mark rushed 226 times for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 104 yards and a score along with taking two punt returns to the house.
That is one freak of an athlete.
The problem is that 2012 was the only year he actually got a full season’s worth of work in. After being injured for most of 2013, he was set to be one of the primary weapons on Pat Fitzgerald’s entire 2014 squad.
Well, Nebraska’s trip to Evanston, IL. just got even more interesting.
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) August 13, 2014
The Battle For NU has been tight with all Big Ten games between Nebraska and Northwestern being decided by a total of seven points. The duo of Marc and quarterback Trevor Siemian in the Northwestern backfield could’ve caused defensive coordinator John Papuchis to pull his hair out.
Without Marc? Not so much.
The Wildcats have a deep running back corps, not unlike their “NU” counterparts, but there is no Imani Cross or Terrell Newby on the roster.
Kevin Trahan, co-founder of Inside NU pointed out that the offense “should likely be more pass-heavy this year” in the College Football Matrix’s Big Ten preseason digital magazine.
Good news for a team that has a firm front four with a unique pass rush combo in defensive end Randy Gregory and linebacker Marcus Newby.
Depending on how the Huskers’ linebackers and secondary recovery from early season injuries, even Fitzgerald’s coaching can only do so much.
None of the remaining backs have anywhere near the same shiftiness and vision of Marc. This means that while Nebraska will have to remain disciplined, the Huskers have more room for error thanks to a non-existent Marc.
I won’t go so far as to say The Battle For NU will now officially be a win, and a large one at that.
However, I will say that between Fitzgerald’s “bad joke” about Nebraskans and the ability to disregard what would’ve been a major threat on offense, this game may be decided by more points than the series’ total this far.
There’ll probably be plenty of red in the stands to witness it thanks in no small part to Fitz.
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