The statistics say that Northwestern’s red zone offense has been perfect. The Wildcats have made 16 trips inside the inside the 20-yard line and have come away with points each time.
But head coach Pat Fitzgerald has not been pleased with the Wildcats red zone offense. Particularly, he’s still talking about the season opener at Cal when he says Northwestern executed poorly inside the red zone.
It makes sense for a coach who likes to say “stats are for losers.”
“We haven’t scored enough touchdowns,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re not very happy right now with the way we’re playing in the red zone. We’ve got to score touchdowns. The Cal game we just flat out did not execute and should have scored [touchdowns] every time down there and we just didn’t. Syracuse we did a nice job and then last week in the red zone we scored more touchdowns. So we’re getting better.
“The big thing that jumps out to me is Cal. We didn’t do a good job as coaches getting the guys ready to execute. I could make excuses but we just didn’t execute well.”
Northwestern has 10 touchdowns and six fields over its 16 attempts. At Cal, Northwestern came away with touchdowns on two of its three trips inside the 20-yard line.
Though Fitzgerald’s high standard of success calls for maximum red zone efficiency, the upside has been Northwestern’s ability to take care of the ball in the red zone. As is obvious by the team’s numbers, the Wildcats have not turned the ball over once.
“The offensive line has done a heck of a job controlling the line of scrimmage and that makes it a heck of a lot easier when you can run the ball down there and then open up the pass,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “It just stretches out the defense that much more.”