Risk/Reward and running C.J. Bacher

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Pat Fitzgerald’s recent comments on the necessity of “taking what the defense gives us” and having quarterback C.J. Bacher run the football as a matter of plan has sparked numerous comments on assorted message boards throughout the Internet.

Anyone arguing accepted football philosophy when it comes to the spread offense can’t disagree with Fitzgerald’s core thoughts.

Anyone addressing the reality of C.J. Bacher’s value to the team as a passer out of the spread vs. his incremental valie as a ball carrier certainly can.

If Tyrell Sutton or Bacher sustain a serious injury, the BCS dreams of Northwestern this season are over. At times when running the ball, Bacher’s displays a competitiveness that while commendable, exposes himself to extraordinary risk of injury. That is the aspect of the philosophy that pushes the inherent risk/reward into an ultimately negative expectation.

A defensive coordinator properly scheming would tell his troops at all costs to populate to Bacher when he crosses the line of scrimmage and try to lay him out. Fitzgerald himself has said that once a quarterback is hit a few times early in a game, he generally becomes a different quarterback.

With a hungry foe like Minnesota and a defensively ferocious one like Ohio State lying dead ahead on NU’s path to glory, the risk of continuing to run Bacher 5-10 times per-game as a matter of planning is one that could quickly let the air out of NU’s 2008 dream balloon.

And that is that.

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