When a new coaching staff takes over a program, it's nice to have an experienced class of seniors to ease the transition.
Unfortunately, for first year head coach Josh Snyder that wasn't in the cards he was dealt when he took over the Tigers this season, with only five returning seniors.
However, Snyder was definitely handed an "ace" within that small group of seniors in the multi-dimensional Mason Schuler. The senior helped the Tigers come back from a 21-7 deficit and an eventual 38-21 victory, scoring three touchdowns in a row. His performance last week against the Bombers was good enough to earn him the week six TIMES NEWS Player of the Week.
Schuler has not only been the "ace" for the Tigers this season, but a "jack of all trades" as well. Snyder has put him all over the place to try and get the Northwestern offense in high gear and last week Schuler was the just the right mixture to fuel the fire for a Tiger comeback.
"This was the first time in a couple years where we were down and were able to comeback for a win. We scored 31 unanswered to comeback and Mason (Schuler) was certainly a cog in that spoke that helped us turn things around," said Snyder. "All season long he's been our most consistent player on both offense and defense. He really flies to the ball on defense and is really versatile on offense. We've had him at middle linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive back, tailback, and fullback. It was great to see him get in the end zone three times last week, for some reason it hasn't happened as much as we would like, but I told him scoring can come in bunches. He's just a great kid to have on your football team."
Schuler was once again performing all over the field, rushing the ball four times for 72 yards and one score along with catching four balls for 64 yards and two touchdowns. So far, this season Schuler has racked up 394 yards of total offense. His biggest contribution to the Tigers like Coach Snyder said might be his ability to fly to the football on defense. He has 28 solo tackles on the year and 51 in all, with five of them going for a loss of 22 yards.
"It feels good and it's a sense of accomplishment for me that coach trusts me to play all these different positions," said Schuler. "I've been playing football all my life and working hard at it, so the fact that my coaches and teammates trust me in such important roles out there is definitely a good feeling. That being said, I still need to be a leader and all of us can get better. I feel like the intensity is there and we need to use that to get out to better starts in these next couple games."
Of the five seniors on the Northwestern roster, Schuler is the only returning starter. It was evident in the summer that Schuler was going to have to step into a leadership role, one that he has embraced with open arms.
"I try to tell the guys to always keep their head up, listen to what the coaches say, don't take a coaches' criticism in the wrong way, and play to the best of your ability," said Schuler. "Like I said it's an honor to have a leadership role on a team like Northwestern and I just try to set the best example I can. We still have a lot of football left to play so if we just keep our heads up and keep playing hard you never know what could happen."
Coach Snyder also believes that Schuler has been a leader for the Tigers all year and he lets his work on the field do a lot of his talking for him.
"Mason could have came in saying we didn't do a lot of this kind-of stuff last year or said he wasn't used to some of our new stuff, but he didn't," said Snyder. "He totally bought into what we're trying to do here and where we believe the program should be. He's always the first one on the field and he's also our only senior captain this year. He just does a lot of good things and he does most of his talking with his pads and with his play and we're fortunate to have a kid like that to set the direction of where we want this program to go."