"We did lose a few pieces, but we've got guys that are going to replace them and do a great job," senior quarterback Trevor Adams said.
Already losing top all-purpose weapons Jordan Simmons and Tyler Shaw to graduation, the Bearcats must go without would-be number one running back James Franklin due to ineligibility.
"We were going to be splitting carries regardless," senior running back Billy Creason said. "I'm just going to go out and do my '1/11th' and not really focus on that. My focus is on my team."
That shrinks the number of returning key contributors down to a select few, perhaps none more important than Adams. The signal caller completed 64 percent of his passes last season, racking up 2,515 yards and accounted for 25 touchdowns.
Now, he, along with Creason, is hoping to turn in a full season of work after dealing with injury issues in the past.
"I'm not the only one out there just yelling at everybody. I've got Trevor with me, so it's always nice to have somebody out there to back you up or even back someone else up and take that leadership role."
Creason has always played some part in the Bearcats' scoring attack, and is no stranger to head coach Adam Dorrel's system. Last year, he was the team's third-leading rusher with 422 yards and five scores, but this is the campaign where his numbers could take a dramatic leap.
"He's an awesome leader," Adams said. "Everyone on offense looks at him as one of those senior leaders."
"There's always room for improvement," Creason added. "We've got a few wideouts that transferred in that are stepping up big right now too. They've been making play after play."
One of those newcomers is Reuben Thomas from Pasadena City College, who turned in a 120-yard performance with a touchdown in last week's intra squad scrimmage. He, along with running back Robert Burton III, make up part of another mix of JUCO talent that could make a quick impact.
"I'm just trying to get in wherever I fit at," Thomas said. "I'll go wherever they need me to be. If they need me to be that big-play guy, I'll be that. If I've got to be that possession receiver, I'll be that."
With a younger core of pass-catching talent, highlighted by returners Joel Getz and Bryce Young, that big-play potential could be needed.
But a big drop-off isn't expected, which could spell headaches for MIAA defenses once again.
"Those guys have been doing a great job understanding the guy in front of them had moved on and they need to step up," Adams said. "There really hasn't been any setback in that."
Northwest opens the season on Thursday hosting Saginaw Valley State.