2013 Northwestern Season outlook

Few fans of Northwestern Football will forget the joy of celebrating the final victory in a 10-win 2012 campaign, which came in the form of an exciting 34-20 topping of Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. The 'Cats, who last year made their fifth straight bowl appearance under dynamic head coach Pat Fitzgerald, return 18 starters from last year's stellar squad and enter 2013 with a No. 22 ranking in the USA Today/Coaches preseason poll. Fitzgerald, already the Big Ten's second-longest tenured head coach at the age of 38, is now set on steering his alma mater to a Big Ten championship and the Wildcats' first trip to Pasadena since his first of back-to-back All-American seasons in 1995.
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opponents

    returning starters

    Jack Konopka
    75 Position: Offensive Tackle
    height/weight: 6'5"/285 lbs.
    Information: Started all 13 games at right tackle after switching from superback following his freshman season ... Made first career start for the Wildcats at Syracuse ... Helped NU post fourth-best rushing average in the Big Ten in 2012 (225.5).
    Brandon Vitabile
    66 Position: Center
    height/weight: 6'3"/300 lbs.
    Information: Started every game at center for the second straight year ... 26 career starts ... Named to preseason watch list for Rimington Award, presented annually to nation's top center ... Helped NU post fourth-best rushing average in the Big Ten (225.5) and rank No. 1 in fewest sacks allowed.
    Kain Colter
    2 Position: Quarterback
    height/weight: 6'0"/190 lbs.
    Information: True junior ... Started 12 of 13 games at QB while also seeing time as a wide receiver during the middle of the season ... Honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media for the second year in a row ... Named a Midseason All-American by ESPN.com ... Ranked 12th in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (68.8) and 11th in total offense (135.9).
    Venric Mark
    5 Position: Running Back
    height/weight: 5'8"/175 lbs.
    Information: True junior ... Started every game at running back in 2012 ... Named a first-team All-American at punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America, making him NU's 39th All-American and first since 2005 ... Also named to the CBSSports.com and The Sporting News All-America teams as a punt returner.
    Dan Vitale
    40 Position: Superback
    height/weight: 6'2"/220 lbs.
    Information: One of four true freshmen to crack the lineup in 2012 ... Earned the No. 1 spot on the depth chart at superback coming out of fall camp and excelled throughout the year ... Named to ESPN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Team ... NU's Offensive Newcomer of the Year award recipient.
    Christian Jones
    14 Position: Wide Receiver
    height/weight: 6'3"/225 lbs.
    Information: True sophomore ... Dynamic, physical presence in the slot ... Team's leader in receiving yards this year with 412, adding two TD's ... Caught three passes for 34 yards at Syracuse, including his first career touchdown grab on a 14-yard reception.
    Tony Jones
    6 Position: Wide Receiver
    height/weight: 6'0"/185 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt sophomore ... Starting wideout with tremendous speed ... Team leader with four receiving TDs in 2012, finishing with 335 yards on 29 catches.
    Rashad Lawrence
    17 Position: Wide Receiver
    height/weight: 6'2"/185 lbs.
    Information: True junior ... Dynamic and physical wideout ... Started 11 games to bring his career total to 18 starts ... Second on the team in receptions with 34 for the season.
    Tyler Scott
    97 Position: Defensive End
    height/weight: 6'4"/265 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt junior ... Started all 13 games at defensive end ... Tabbed an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by league coaches and media ... NU's Defensive MVP ... His team-leading 9.0 sacks (0.69 per game) ranked him second in the Big Ten and moved him into a tie for ninth all-time at Northwestern with 10.0.
    Sean McEvilly
    91 Position: Defensive Tackle
    height/weight: 6'5"/275 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt sophomore ... Moved into a starting role at defensive tackle, starting the last 10 games ... Made first career start against South Dakota and recorded one tackle ... Also had two stops in season-opener at Syracuse and one against Boston College.
    Chi Chi Ariguzo
    44 Position: Outside Linebacker
    height/weight: 6'3"/220 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt sophomore ... Consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media ... Started every game at strong-side linebacker ... Big Ten co-leader in fumble recoveries this season with four ... Team leader in tackles for loss with 10.5 ... Ranked 18th in the Big Ten in overall tackles (7.0 per game).
    Damien Proby
    46 Position: Middle Linebacker
    height/weight: 6'0"/235 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt junior ... Started all 13 games at middle linebacker ... Named an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer by conference media ... Member of NU's 12-player Leadership Council ... Team's leading tackler, ranking eighth in the Big Ten with 8.6 stops per game.
    Daniel Jones
    15 Position: Cornerback
    height/weight: 5'11"/170 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt sophomore ... Earned starting cornerback spot prior to Minnesota game and started seven straight games to end the season ... 33 total tackles this year, including 29 solo stops.
    Nick VanHoose
    23 Position: Cornerback
    height/weight: 6'0"/185 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt freshman ... Started 10 of 13 games at cornerback, missing the Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State games due to injury ... Named to ESPN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Team ... NU's Defensive Newcomer of the Year award recipient ... Tied for team lead with three interceptions, good for fourth in the Big Ten (0.3 INTs per game).
    Ibraheim Campbell
    15 Position: Safety
    height/weight: 5'11"/205 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt sophomore ... A leader in Northwestern's secondary despite being in only his second year on the field ... Member of NU's 12-player Leadership Council ... Tabbed an honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree by league coaches and media ... Ranked 20th in the Big Ten with 6.85 stops per game.
    Jeff Budzien
    37 Position: Place-kicker
    height/weight: 5'11"/165 lbs.
    Information: Second year as NU's starting place-kicker ... Named Bakken-Anderson Big Ten Co-Kicker of the Year ... Became first NU kicker to be named first-team All-Big Ten (coaches) since Brian Gowins in 1997 ... Named one of 20 national semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top place-kicker.
    Brandon Williams
    49 Position: Punter/Holder
    height/weight: 6'2"/185 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt junior ... Completed third season as NU's starting punter ... Ranked seventh in the Big Ten in punting average (39.9).
    Pat Hickey
    59 Position: Long Snapper
    height/weight: 6'0"/205 lbs.
    Information: Redshirt junior ... Completed his second year as NU's full-time long and short-snapper, playing in all 13 games ... Excellent rapport on the field with punter and holder Brandon Williams ... Two special teams tackles this season ... Academic All-Big Ten.

    2012 stats

    passing
    name GP EFF CMP-ATT-INT PCT YDS TD
    Siemian, Trevor 13 116.13 128-217-3 59.0 1312 6
    Colter, Kain 13 128.43 101-150-4 67.3 872 8
    Oliver, Zack 4 158.80 2-2-0 100.0 14 0
    rushing
    name GP ATT YDS AVG TD AVD/G
    Mark, Venric 13 226 1366 6.0 12 105.1
    Colter, Kain 13 169 891 5.3 12 68.5
    Trumpy, Mike 13 76 349 4.6 3 26.8
    Jones, Tyris 13 6 143 3.6 2 11.0
    Green, Treyvon 9 22 73 3.3 1 8.1
    receiving
    name GP NO. YDS AVG TD AVD/G
    Jones, Christian 13 35 412 11.8 2 31.7
    Lawrence, Rashad 13 34 321 9.4 0 24.7
    Fields, Demetrius 13 33 305 9.2 1 23.5
    Jones, Tony 13 29 335 11.6 4 25.8
    Vitale, Dan 13 28 288 10.3 2 22.2
    Mark, Venric 13 20 104 5.2 1 8.0
    Colter, Kain 13 16 169 10.6 0 13.0