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TJ Green granted sixth season of eligibility at Northwestern

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TJ Green was one of four quarterbacks to see the field for Northwestern during a woeful 2019 campaign.  Thanks to the NCAA, Green will get another crack at the starting job in 2020.

In the season-opening loss to Stanford, Green went down with a broken foot.  Subsequent surgery sidelined the quarterback for the remainder of the year.

Wednesday, it was confirmed that TJ Green, the son of former NFL quarterback Trent Green, has received a sixth season of eligibility at Northwestern.  The move will allow him to play for the Wildcats this coming season.

“Thank you to my coaches, teammates, friends, and family for supporting me throughout my recovery and rehab process,” said Green in a statement. “I’m excited to get back to work!”

Prior to the injury in the opener, Green had thrown for 62 yards on six-of-10 passing.  For his career, Green, who came to Northwestern as a walk-on, has completed 27 of his 47 passes for 236 yards and an interception.  As Clayton Thorson‘s backup in 2018, Green appeared in nine games.

This past season, Northwestern’s 84.5 passer rating as a team was by far the worst of any FBS team.  Next worst?  Old Dominion’s 99.6.  A 4.5 yards per attempt average was at the very bottom as well.  Their six touchdown passes were second-worst to Old Dominion’s five.

Report: Pat Fitzgerald turned down chance to interview for Carolina Panthers job

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Pat Fitzgerald has been connected to yet another job, this one with the Carolina Panthers.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, “[t]he… Panthers reached out to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald about their vacancy” recently.  However, Fitzgerald opted to not formally interview for the opening.

That said, the rumors connecting the long-time head coach at his alma mater to the NFL won’t be going away anytime soon.  From La Canfora’s report:

There is a strong sense among NFL executives that if Fitzgerald ever did leave Northwestern, it would be for the Chicago Bears job. He may well end up as a lifer with the Wildcats, but the Illinois native has been linked to the Bears in the past, and Matt Nagy will enter 2020 on the proverbial hot seat after his offense, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the entire Bears team regressed significantly this season after reaching the playoffs in 2018.

The report comes weeks after the Wildcats finished 3-9, the worst record in Fitzgerald’s 14 years with the program. In the previous 13, he guided NU to a 96-70 record, including a 56-51 mark in Big Ten play.

An All-American linebacker at NU, Fitzgerald has further cemented his legacy in Evanston as his wins, both overall (99) and in the conference (57), are the most in Wildcats history.  Fitzgerald has also guided his teams to nine bowl games; prior to taking over, the program had made six postseason appearances.

Northwestern taps BC’s Mike Bajakian to jump-start anemic offense

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From Mick to Mike, Northwestern’s offense is officially in the throes of some much-needed change.

Coming off a season that featured one of the worst offenses in recent Big Ten history, Northwestern announced that coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mick McCall had been dismissed. A little over two weeks later, the football program confirmed that Mike Bajakian has been hired to take over coordinating the Wildcats’ offense. As McCall did, Bajakian will also handle the team’s quarterbacks.

Bajakian held the same jobs at Boston College in 2019, his first season at the ACC school. Prior to BC, Bajakian was the quarterbacks coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2015-18.

“We are ecstatic to welcome Mike, Michelene and their five children, to the Northwestern football family,” said NU head football coach Pat Fitzgerald in a statement. “He has demonstrated outstanding impact and improvement at every stop of his career, both in college football and in the National Football League. The feedback we received from former colleagues and student-athletes was impeccable. He has helmed offenses that beat you through the air, and others that punished opponents on the ground, depending on personnel. Mike rose up our candidate list with every conversation we had about him, and we are thrilled to have him on board in advance of the early signing period and winter workouts.”

Bajakian takes over a Northwestern squad that finished the 2019 regular season 124th nationally in total offense (297.1 yards per game); 126th in scoring offense (16.3 points per game); 127th in passing offense (117 ypg); and tied for 128th in passing touchdowns (six).

Chase Young becomes first defensive player to win Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football

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For years, the Big Ten did not produce a preseason poll or award a player of the year award, so the media took the tasks upon itself. For 95 years, in fact, the Chicago Tribune has awarded the Silver Football to the league’s best overall player — something of a Big Ten Heisman.

And for the first time in nearly a century, a defensive player has won that award.

In a straw poll of the league’s 14 head coaches — coaches are forbidden from voting for their own players — Ohio State’s Chase Young. Young secured nine first-place votes and one second-place vote, meaning three coaches left him off their ballots entirely. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor came in second with three first-place votes and 12 points total, followed by Buckeye teammates Justin Fields and JK Dobbins. Penn State’s KJ Hamler and Michigan’s Shea Patterson each garnered a second-place vote.

Ohio State has, unsurprisingly, dominated the award during the Urban Meyer/Ryan Day era, as Braxton Miller won the honor in 2012 and ’13, Ezekiel Elliott took it home in 2015, JT Barrett in 2016 and Dwayne Haskins last fall.

Overall, the Silver Football has been awarded to an Ohio State player 22 times, most in the conference.

With 29 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, a school-record 14 sacks and five forced fumbles in 10 games, Young will now attempt to become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman — it’s like the Silver Football, but for the entire country — later this month.

 

Buckeyes dominate All-Big Ten offense, Justin Fields named Offensive Player of the Year

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It did not take long for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to leave his mark in Columbus. In his first season after transferring from Georgia to Ohio State, Fields has been named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year. Fields was also named the Big Ten’s Quarterback of the Year and named to the All-Big Ten First Team Offense. He was joined by a number of Buckeyes on the All-Big Ten roster.

Fields is Ohio State’s second striaght winner of the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year Award. Dwayne Haskins won the award last season.

Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman was named the Big Ten’s wide receiver of the year, and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor took the conference’s running back award. Taylor and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins shared First Team All-Big Ten honors at running back on both teams assembled by votes of the coaches and the media. Purdue’s Bryce Hopkins was named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs was the conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Year.

A total of 10 Ohio State players were awarded All-Big Ten honors on the first, second or third tea, by the coaches and nine received the honors from the media. Joining Fields and Dobbins on the first team was offensive guard Jonah Jackson (coaches) and Wyatt Davis (media). The two players switched spots for the second team on the coaches and media All-Big Ten teams.

The Big Ten announced its defensive and special team honors on Tuesday.

Fields and Dobbins and the rest of No. 1 Ohio State will face Taylor and No. 8 Wisconsin in this weekend’s Big Ten championship game.