Northwestern Wildcats 2011 Season Preview Welcome Cats fans to the 2011 season preview. As the Wildcats look to return to the gridiron this year after a humbling second half of the season capped off by a terrible bowl game loss to Texas Tech, there's a new face in town. Coach KSherm is taking over for head coach Pat Fitzgerald and will look to take the Wildcats program to the next level during his tenure. Offense Persa! Persa! Persa! That's the chant you're most likely to hear on Saturdays in Illinois as the Wildcat QB likes to fire up the crowd while causing opposing defensive linemen to hyperventilate. Dan Persa is coming back from tearing his achilles last year. While rumors are that he's back to 100%, it's too early to tell whether or not he'll be able to replicate last years performance throwing for 26 TDs and 2500 yards while completing 75% of his passes and only tossing 4 INTs, also adding 9 TDs on the ground. That's a lot to live up to in a good year, let alone coming off a traumatic leg injury like he had. Persa will look to his fellow offensive mates to help shoulder some of the load this season. HB Mike Trumpy looks to be the clear cut starter heading into this season and he'll need to be productive in order for the Wildcats offense to succeed. Other key offensive players this year will be SR WR Jeremy Ebert and TE Drake Dunsmore ("The Drake"). These two will be on the receiving end of majority of Persa's passes this season while defenses stack up against the run. The biggest news on offense may be Coach KSherm's new offensive system. Word around campus is the Pat Fitzgerald no huddle offense has received a HUGE upgrade and will be running at a much higher output this season. With the new coach's back ground in studying under Urban Meyer and Chip Kelly, one can only imagine what this offense will manage with a healthy Persa guiding the attack. Defense The defense was a soft point for the Wildcats the second half of last season and will need to make big improvements for the Wildcats to find their way to their 4th straight bowl game. Gone is superstar DL Corbin Bryant and LB Quinten Davie and in will come some new blood. SR DE Vince Browne, SR CB Jordan Mabin (both 87 overall), and SR SS Brian Peters (88 ovr) will need to provide leadership and be playmakers to help makeup for the youth at other positions. Without a more productive unit on this side of the ball in `11, the Wildcats could be in some real trouble. Overall This should be an interesting season for the Wildcats under new coach KSherm. The students, fans and alumni have become used to playing on New Years day the past 3 years and really don't want to miss out on that this year as the Wildcats seek a 4th consecutive bowl bid to set a school record. Coach KSherm hasn't made any promises regarding a bowl birth just yet, but that's definitely the goal for this team. 9 wins is probably pretty lofty for this team, but 5 is too low. Look for the Wildcats to finish up the 2011 season somewhere between 6-8 wins and a bowl birth.