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Five Takeaways From Northwestern's Bye Week

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Venric Mark most likely will return next year but is out for the remainder of 2013. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.
Venric Mark most likely will return next year but is out for the remainder of 2013. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.

Northwestern lost on its bye week last Saturday when Pat Fitzgerald elected to go for two in the waning moments and Trevor Siemian threw a pass at the feet of Dan Vitale (just kidding). Here are five takeaways from the bye week.

1. Venric Mark probably is coming back.

He’s out for the remainder of the season but should get a medical hardship and return for a fifth year. It has to be approved by the NCAA, of course, so hold your breath, NU fans. The importance of Mark’s skill on special teams returning punts/kicks is underrated and he is a dynamic running back as well. This was the best news to come out of a bye week for quite a long time and I for one no longer consider 2014 a complete lost cause.

2. No one thinks Trevor Siemian is any good.

This year, they’re right. He’s been a pretty bad quarterback. But the talk on Twitter this week was all about Matt Alviti and Mark teaming up next year. Alviti is exciting. He’s a four-star recruit at the most important position in football. But he’s only going to be a redshirt freshman. I don’t think fans should give up on Siemian yet. Remember the improvement Mike Kafka showed under Mick McCall between his junior and senior year. Siemian has the potential to duplicate that. When in doubt, I go for experience at the QB position. He’ll learn from this year and be much improved in 2014. Besides, how soon people forget that he helped lead NU to its first bowl win since 1949 back in January.

3. Hail Mary passes are no fun, you guys.

An extra week to think about what happened in the Nebraska game has everyone associated with NU in a pretty sour mood. Plus it doesn’t help that the upcoming opponent, Michigan, also completed a ridiculous Hail Mary against the ‘Cats the last time the two played. More time to think about two different Hail Marys! That’s really why Northwestern lost the bye week.

4. It’s still football season?

Most Northwestern fans already have switched gears to basketball, which is hilarious. Chris Collins’ guys got whipped at Stanford the other night, which was not as funny. A year that began with high expectations, including yours truly saying they should win the Legends Division, has collapsed like a house of cards. Yes, they can still make a bowl game. But just making bowl games isn’t the goal anymore for Pat Fitzgerald’s program.

5. This season is a fluke. So was last season.

The reality for NU football under Pat Fitzgerald is not 10 wins every season. It’s also not this year’s disaster of a campaign. NU should probably be expected to win seven-to-nine games each season until there’s a noticeable improvement in team depth. Injuries have killed the ‘Cats this year after they were completely healthy in 2012. Of course, if they only win five or six games next year, we should ask serious questions about the coaching staff.