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Northwestern vs. Indiana State: First Half Takeaways and What to Look for in the Second Half

Five key takeaways from first half action of the Northwestern vs. Indiana State game.

It is halftime here at Ryan Field in Evanston Illinois, as the Wildcats lead the Sycamores 14-0. It was a solid start for the Wildcats, as they came out firing on all cylinders on offense, putting up over 100 yards of rushing on the first two drives alone. It has been a much needed bounce back performance on both sides of the ball following a disappointing week one showing.  

Evan Hull: Bell cow running back. 

In the season opener against Michigan State, running back Evan Hull showed flashes of his potential as the RB1, as he finished the game as the Wildcats’ leading rusher, tallying 87 yards on nine carries. Fast forward to the game today and on the opening drive alone Hull racked up 51 yards on seven carries, capping it off with a three-yard touchdown run. Hull finished the half with 105 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, proving that he can be the RB1 for the Wildcats offense. 

Look at that, a good run game brings success on offense.

With the improved running game in week two, the passing offense has been able to pick up where it left off in week one when quarterback Hunter Johnson threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Spartans, Johnson was asked to throw the ball a whopping 43 times, yet he only threw the ball three times in the first quarter and eight times over the first half, finishing with 49 yards on 5-8 passing and a touchdown. 

Continue to stuff the run.

If the season ended after week one, Spartans running back Kenneth Walker would be a leading Heisman candidate after the show he put on. Walker ran all over the Wildcats defense to the tune of 264 yards and four touchdowns. The competition may not be quite up to the same level but anytime you can limit an offense to 27 total rushing yards in one half, it will inspire confidence in your defense.

Win the turnover battle, win the game.

Everyone knows that defense wins championships and so far in the first half the Wildcats defense has been stifling the Sycamores at all turns.The only area that they can improve on is the turnover battle as each team currently has recovered one fumble. The Wildcats should have no issue putting this game away defensively but if they can force another turnover or two, they’ll be in great shape in the second half. 

Air that thang out.

Hunter Johnson has not been asked to do much in the first half, only throwing the ball for 49 yards and one touchdown on 5-8 passing. Not that it has cost the Wildcats offensively as the run game has come to life here in week two. However, with how well the rushing attack has played so far, the second half should provide ample opportunity for Johnson to show off his arm. They shouldn’t abandon the run completely but look for a much more balanced attack in the second half from the Wildcats offense. 

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