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Colter vs. Siemian: Whom Should Wildcats Play At QB?

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Kain Colter runs well. Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images.
Trevor Siemian is more of a passer. Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images.

Northwestern football has struggled mightily on offense the last three weeks. They managed only six points against Wisconsin, 17 points against Minnesota and 10 points in an overtime loss to Iowa.

Kain Colter missed the Minnesota game due to injury and Trevor Siemian barely played in the Iowa game because he was terrible against Minnesota. Northwestern prefers a two-QB system, but that hasn’t worked in recent weeks as Colter gets hurt frequently and Siemian has struggled with sacks and turnovers. It is my opinion that it’s about time NU chooses a quarterback and sticks with him. But who should that be?

The Case For Kain Colter

Colter has more experience, having played since he was a true freshman in 2010. He is extremely versatile and is much, much faster than Siemian. Despite Siemian’s reputation as a passer, Colter actually has completed a much higher percentage of his throws this year (81.8 percent compared to 58.3 percent). He is a warrior out on the field, not afraid to take a hit in order to get the extra yard. Plus, his effectiveness in the red zone is undeniable. Siemian is a statue in the pocket who is vulnerable against an effective pass rush and he spends way too much time staring down receivers. Those flaws basically cost NU the Minnesota game. Meanwhile, NU did not light things up on offense with Colter against Iowa, but they would have won the game if Mike Trumpy hadn’t lost two fumbles.  

The Case For Trevor Siemian

This season is effectively over for Northwestern. Four straight losses to start the Big Ten season have killed any hopes of even a decent bowl game. Siemian is a junior who needs to get reps as he’ll be expected to lead the team in 2014. Plus, Colter can be an effective wide receiver so it’s not like you are losing his talents if you play Siemian at quarterback. Colter is also not the dynamic threat he usually is due to the absence of running back Venric Mark. Siemian averages 13.4 yards per completion while Colter manages only 9.3. Also, it seems to be quite the dramatic rush to judgment to cast off Siemian after a couple bad games. Remember, he was one of the offensive heroes in the Gator Bowl and has come up big in big moments throughout his NU career.

The Verdict

Pat Fitzgerald can’t worry about 2014 right now. He needs to win as many games as possible this season. A bowl game remains a possibility, and there are some chances for some signature wins down the stretch against the likes of Michigan State and Michigan. The value of making it to a bowl game is obvious: extra practices for the team. Those extra practices certainly will help Siemian and others. In order to give his team the best chance to win the upcoming games, it’s obvious he needs to play Kain Colter at quarterback for as long as the man is healthy. Siemian seemingly has regressed this season and it’s up to Colter to bail the Wildcats out of this 0-4 hole. The speed factor is the most important aspect of his game. Colter’s running ability is going to be a problem for slow Big Ten defenses. He just has to figure out a way to consistently stay on the field.