Pat Fitzgerald explained why Anthony Walker hasn't looked like a superhero yet
At this time last year, Anthony Walker Jr. was the star player on arguably the surprise team in college football.
Walker never really slowed down much in 2015. That’s why he earned second-team All-American honors, and a flashy preseason marketing campaign that pegged him as a superhero.
But in Northwestern’s 1-2 start, Walker hasn’t looked like a superhero. He’s fourth on the team in tackles, he has 2.5 tackles for loss and just one sack. Compare that to last year when Walker finished first in the B1G in tackles for loss and ninth in total tackles.
So is Walker a victim of some overwhelming preseason hype? Not really, according to Pat Fitzgerald.
During the B1G Teleconference on Tuesday, Fitzgerald revealed that Walker hasn’t been playing at 100 percent. He apparently missed two weeks during fall training camp with an undisclosed injury after getting “twisted up.” That would mean he wasn’t a full participant until Sept. 1, which was three days before the start of the Wildcats’ season.
Fitzgerald still wasn’t willing to go into detail on the injury, just that it’s been limiting the normally-explosive linebacker.
“I think he’s getting himself back into better game shape,” Fitzgerald said. “Missing two weeks of camp is tough. I definitely think he’s getting in better and better shape.”
There are signs that he could be getting back to full strength. On Saturday, Walker did record his first sack of the season, which was also his first forced fumble of 2016.
But even that sequence showed Walker isn’t quite there yet.
“It was one of those you’re better to be lucky than good plays,” Fitzgerald said. “He missed a tackle.”
The Wildcats need Walker to get back to his 2015 form in a hurry. They’re already battling injuries in the secondary with both of their starting cornerbacks out with serious injuries.
Northwestern also faces a daunting start to B1G play beginning on Saturday with games vs. No. 20 Nebraska, at Iowa and at No. 8 Michigan State. The Wildcats will have to pull off an upset if they want to avoid a 1-5 start.
Now would be a good time for a superhero to come in and save the day.