[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Northwestern didn’t have a spring game this year, but they did have a good practice that showed off a lot of talent. We talked with Davis Rich, Northwestern football expert and sports beat writer, to find out more. Rich filled us in on what the biggest questions are, who we should keep an eye on, and what he thinks about starting QB prospect Hunter Johnson. Get more updates from Rich on Twitter @DavisRich1.

Want more? Get more. Check out our rankings page and learn more about how your favorite players match up across the board.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-question” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#c2933a” title=”Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?”]

[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] I think the profile of the offense will look very similar. NU loses a lot of talent — its quarterback, top receiver, tight end, and three offensive lineman. At the skill positions, there is a lot of talent to fill the gaps, but I would be nervous about the offensive line. NU’s offensive is predicated on minimizing negative plays and I think there could be some inconsistency in the early part of the season that will slow the team down. With that being said, former five-star recruit Hunter Johnson could lift the offense to new heights.

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[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] Northwestern welcomes Hunter Johnson, the Clemson transfer and former five-star prospect, into the fold this year. Pat Fitzgerald hasn’t named him the starter yet, but from what we’ve heard around the program, Johnson is going to be the guy. He’s got better physical tools than Clayton Thorson did, but the question is if he’ll be able to learn the offense quickly and overcome some of the structural limitations of NU’s scheme. All things considered, I think NU’s QB production will look pretty similar in 2019, with a little more big play potential and efficiency.

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[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] Isaiah Bowser is going to be the guy. Barring injury, he’ll get 80 percent or more of the team’s carries, which means more than 20 per game. John Moten IV will be the primary backup, with Drake Anderson and Jesse Brown behind him.

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[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] Offensive line is probably the biggest question for the NU offense. The Wildcats lose three starters, including stud right guard Tommy Doles. Left tackle Black Hance and left guard J.B. Butler had their share of struggles but proved to be better than their backups, and now they have graduated. Standout right tackle Rashawn Slater will switch to right tackle, and center Jared Thomas remains, but NU will have to break in three new starters. For a unit that has historically started the season slow, this could cause problems.

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[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] NU lost two of their top pass-catchers this offseason when slot receiver Flynn Nagel graduated and tight end/superback Cam Green retired. X-receiver Bennett Skowronek will be the No. 1 receiver and Riley Lees should fill in the slot role. The other guys to know are speedsters JJ Jefferson and Kyric McGowan, and tight end Trey Pugh. From a fantasy perspective, I would never take an NU pass-catcher. Their big play ability is pretty terrible and NU almost always runs the ball in the redzone.

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[wp-svg-icons icon=”volume-medium” wrap=”i” size=”20px”] Keep an eye on freshman receivers Bryce Kirtz and Genson Hooper-Price. Both are lightning-quick first-years who are among the highest-rated receiver recruits in NU history. Bowser, a sophomore, is a solid pickup for people looking for a durable, consistent running back with a huge workload.

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