Spring game preview: Northwestern

We're getting you set for each of this weekend's seven Big Ten spring games with a short preview of every one.

Let's take a look at Northwestern's Spring Exhibition:

When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday

Where: Ryan Field

Admission: Free

TV: The game will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network and BTN2Go. The game will air on the Big Ten Network on Sunday at 9 p.m.

Weather forecast: A 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, with a high near 70.

What to watch for: Defense, defense, defense. As in, will there be any?

You can't read too much into a defense's performance in a spring game, since it is going up against the same offense it has faced for weeks and knows the plays and opposing players. Still, Northwestern's defense last year, especially against the pass, was pretty crummy and has been a major focus in the 2012 offseason. So it's fair to hope for some signs of life and defensive playmakers in the spring game.

On offense, the passing game requires close examination. We know quarterback Kain Colter can run the ball, but can he throw it accurately and on time? The receiving corps loses Jeremy Ebert, but could be deeper overall, and USC transfer Kyle Prater can show off his stuff before a crowd before he finds out whether or not he can do it for real on Saturdays this fall.

The Wildcats have only 11 total starters back, so look for a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. The spring game could give an indication of how optimistic Northwestern fans should be for their future.