August 24, 2016 by Daniel Appel
A championship drought has begun to take hold at Reynolds Field.
Two years in a row, the University of Northwestern Eagles were a game from winning the UMAC, something they haven’t taken outright since 2008. In both seasons, the St. Scholastica Saints beat the Eagles in heartbreaking fashion by a combined 10 points. Northwestern has an internal fire that’s been growing each year they’ve played second fiddle to their Lake Superior rivals.
This season, the Eagles will appear a vastly different squad. Not only in appearance (they signed a uniform deal with Adidas- a huge improvement), but also in personnel; they’ll be returning only about seven starters from last year’s squad that fell short of the hardware. In this two-part season preview, we’ll examine the side of the ball with the greatest change first, the offense. Without further ado, the 2016 UNW Eagles offense (as projected by the Remnant Sports Department).
QB: Corban Halbur – Sr.
The man they call “Buns”. Halbur is ready for his shot at the most difficult position in sports. Forced to sit behind Grant Schoen last season, Halbur now (rightfully) has the reigns to the offense. Unfortunately, he’ll be without a Couwenhoven brother for the first time in years, no security blanket in Juice Sutton, a decimated running backs core, and five new starters on the offensive line. This would spell disaster for most, but not Buns. Chock full of confidence and a cannon on his right shoulder, Halbur is a natural born leader who’s loved in the locker room- something the Eagles have lacked since the great Jake Fletcher took his final snap in 2014.
The rest: Sophomore Taylor Lindahl is the only quarterback who might see playing time if Halbur struggles.
(From L to R: Foster, Bowdry, McDew).
RB: B.J. Foster – So. / Payton Bowdry – Fr. / Dom McDew – Fr.
Whether it be Josh Sinnen and Chris Simon-Wallace or Zac Cash and Foster, the Eagles have always been and always will be running back by committee. B.J. Foster will be the incumbent back on day one, but will split carries with freshman phenom Payton Bowdry. Bowdry, a 6’1 230 lb. freshman, has the most potential of any running back UNW has seen in a decade. With the tools to catch out of the backfield and the size to destroy a Scholastica linebacker, Bowdry is equally gifted in the classroom. The recipient of the Act Six scholarship, he’s on a full ride to UNW and will be a fantastic addition to the team on the field and through great character off it.
The rest: DOM MCDEW. Dom. McDew. You can’t beat a guy with that name. The newcomer is going to get carries at RB and FB and destroy you with his sweet name. Heisman watch on that man.
FB: Foster and McDew
With Fettig’s exit, the Eagles will use McDew and Foster interchangeably.
The rest: N/A
WR 1: Cody Carlson – Sr.
Cody Carlson is the most experienced, consistent receiver on the roster and is the leader the group needs. He’s seen both losses at Scholastica slip through his fingers (neither of which were his fault) and is undoubtedly looking to prove himself further in his final season. He had a strong showing against SAGU in the Victory Bowl, and the prospects for Carlson’s senior campaign are looking bright.
WR 2: Zach Duerwachter – Sr.
Zach Duerwachter. You probably can’t say his name right, and I can’t either. And that’s okay, because he’s great at football. Aside from the last name, he quietly had a solid contribution in 2015. Against Scholastica, he had multiple catches on important 3rd down conversions that helped the Eagles keep pace with Scholastica.
The rest: It’s tough to predict considering the youth at WR, but most likely sophomore Jaleel Johnson will see reps in the slot.
TE: Cole Skoog – Jr.
Skoog is an interesting case. And we don’t say that just because he’s in our sports department. NFL announcers drive a horrendous cliché home anytime they get when it comes to TE’s- they played basketball and it gives them an edge. They’re not wrong, and it definitely applies to Skoog. Long arms, soft hands, and the ability to hold his own in the trenches, Skoog is the TE that UNW has long sought after. With basketball and football in his background, the Forest Lake native could contribute 20-25 catches as a safety blanket for new QB Corban Halbur. Skol Coog is the man, and you can hear him every Monday and Thursday on Chatterbox.
The rest: Trevor Lundberg and Skoog will both probably see lots of time each, considering the Eagles’ emphasis on the run.
*(original order was simply reversed)
RT: Brennen Scarborough – Jr.
Scarborough battled through various injuries his first two years for the Eagles, and now has a real chance to contribute on the line and he’ll stick here at tackle.
RG: Tabor Ferris – Jr.
Tabor is another lineman taking the leap into a starting role along the line. Brownie points for having the last name Ferris.
C: Micah Van Zee – Sr.
Smaller than the rest of the group, Van Zee is the only senior in the bunch. It’ll be integral for him to make the proper calls and save Halbur from hungry nose tackles.
LG: Weston Smith – Jr.
With tons of experience heading into his third year, it’s a no-brainer for Smith here. Smith will settle into his role and be a solid piece for the Eagles going forward.
LT: Brian Doering – Jr.
A former TE, Doering is a 6’5 powerhouse better suited for UNW’s line, and the line needs him. It lacks size, and Doering has it. His wingspan offsets any potential weaknesses outside.
The offense isn’t the strongest part of the Eagles squad, and that’s really okay. Stick around for tomorrow’s release of the defensive preview and you’ll see why.
The Eagles have a scrimmage vs. Hamline this Friday, August 26th.