‘Cat-iously Optimistic

Talk about pressure.  It’s a brave new world in Northwesternland where Heisman candidate Dan Persa had his every move scrutinized by the media.  Day one of practice is complete for NU’s fall camp and the ‘Cats were forced indoors as yet another summer storm rolled through the Chicagoland area Monday afternoon.  I w’ant to be clear, I was not and will not be at practice so anything you read is an assimilation or aggregation of reports from media members who were indeed at the ‘Cats first practice.  The tone? Cautiously optimistic.

The coaching staff, specifically OC Mick McCall was pleasantly surprised by how far along Persa was.  He took less snaps than his back-ups, and according to most reports and quotes from Dan himself, started out gingerly, just as you’d expect after not being on a field for practice in, oh, 10 months.  However, by all reports, he found his rhythm during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills on a day when NU was in helmets but no pads.  Persa was heard by reporters telling Fitz that he was right and that he was indeed rusty just like Fitz had hinted he would be.  Persa’s quotes like this to ESPNChicago’s Scott Powers display that it is more mental than physical at this point:

“It was weird,” Persa said. “I hadn’t been out here forever. At first, I was real ginger, not really knowing how I was going to feel. As practice went on, I got more comfortable.

“As I got in the team situations, I kind of stopped thinking about it and just let my body do the work that I know I can do. It felt good. Obviously, I didn’t do too much, but every day I think I’m going to do a good amount more.” – Dan Persa as quoted by Scott Powers on day one of fall camp.

One of the things that came across in several reports including Wildcat Report Larry Watt’s post was that the freshmen are turning some heads. In particular, true freshman 6-3 WR Christian Jones, the highly touted wideout, seems to be a guy who would not get the redshirt treatment despite the most loaded WR corps in my memory of an NU team.  eddThat alone speaks volumes.   Larry Watts mined some great stuff on back-up QB and we-don’t-know-where-but-he’ll-be-somewhere Kain Colter and how impressive he looked hitting receivers on the spot and appearing to have increased his arm strength now that he’s fully recovered from the torn labrum from two years ago.  Fitz was deliberate mentioning that Colter will play, just not where or how:

“He makes a lot of plays and we’re going to use every ounce of his strengths to get him out there in a number of ways,” Fitzgerald says. “I’m not going to say how so Boston College will know and all the way down to Michigan State. He’s a very talented young man and obviously is a lot stronger in his arm than when he was last year. He came in last year off a torn labrum and it was unrealistic to have expectations for him and where he would be. To his credit, he worked his tail off rehabbing his arm and he was nothing less than spectacular in the bowl game. He has continued to progress through the spring and summer and is throwing the ball very well. I feel great about that depth (at quarterback) right now.” – Pat Fitzgerald on 8/8/11 on Kain Colter.

The theme of the camp is definitely day-by-day on Dan Persa, yet NUSports.com contributor Skip Myslenski will tell you the theme of the camp, as admittedly cliched as it is, is “We are Family”.  He offered up a preview piece that just really got you excited at how excited every guy is to get to practice here.

Teddy G. offered up an interesting note that fan favorite and former LB Tim McGarigle is back at NU this time as a graduate assistant on the staff.  Between Fitz and McGarigle, if we can’t have our LBs as fundamentally sound tacklers we really do need to do some head-scratching.  He also noted that senior C Ben Burkett was practicing at right guard which I found interesting. Also, no one reported on the leg and accuracy of Jeff Budzien which will be a much discussed topic here in the coming weeks.

Here are the links to the above mentioned sources on day one of practice:


Boat #4 will go on sale tomorrow.  We are likely going to be sending an email to those of you on the waitlist since there are more of you than we can even handle on the boat. Assuming we sellout quickly thanks to you purchasing right away, we will make tailgate/ticket packages available to the general LTP audience.  FULL INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE UP ON THIS SITE STARTING AT MIDNIGHT CT TONIGHT.  Stay tuned for more details. We may have a fifth boat to refer you to if you get shutout of this, but we’re at capacity in terms of event management! 

LTP Purple Pledge Challenge
We added only a pair yesterday (shout out to Jeff F.!) to the LTP Purple Pledge Challenge. The leaderboard for our community looks like this as of today:

1)Zach C. – 4 new season tickets

2)Adam W. – 4 new season tickets

3)Tie (several) – 2 new season tickets

This is a daily update on the LTP Purple Pledge Challenge for NEW season tickets in conjunction with Northwestern. LTP has told NU we can deliver 500 NEW season ticket holders by 8/31/11 as part of the new Northwestern season ticket referral program. The challenge is pretty simple. Get new season ticket holders to sign up (season tickets start as low as $116 for end zone or $100 for young alums and go up to $200 for sideline sections) and have them give your account executive’s name. Or, if you want, call your new season ticket holder and give him/her your season-ticket-holder to be’s information so it can be tracked. We as a community will be sharing a fantastic prize to celebrate our accomplishment (TBD soon) and you’ll be able to get individual prizes as well based on how many tickets you’ve referred. For a full list of complete details and tips on how to convert friends, please click here. Also, remember you can DONATE your season ticket or purchase one, give it to LTP and I’ll ensure it gets put to use by PURPLE people. If you’d like to donate a season ticket to NU, simply click here. If you want me to be your referral contact me at laketheposts@gmail.com Remember the ticket office # is 888-GO-Purple (888-467-8775). Including our year-to-date LTP Purple Pledge (prior to 8/1) we have 97 season tickets and need 403 more in the next 23 days! Let’s get over the 175 mark this week.


A quick piece of visual candy to send out to friends to remind them to get their season tickets before the Michigan and Penn State games sellout, which may happen the day Big Ten tickets go on sale on 8/22.  Our YouTube guru, NUBears, aka “Northwestern Highlights”, put together the following Dan Persa sizzle reel. Send this post along to your friends and show them why they need to buy. Spread the word about Persa Strong…

We’ve got a post coming up later today on the meaning of “The Michigan Man” to keep the themed week alive. Stay tuned….-

  • tom

    “For the record, the first song played at Northwestern’s first football practice was “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind and Fire”
    haha, wow… I’m guessing the players don’t choose the practice music

    Glad to see McGarigle in the coaching fold. He was the best pure tackler I’ve ever seen play for the ‘cats.

  • GoCatsGo0101

    does ANYONE know what happened to Larry Lilja? Fitz mentioned we have a new Strength and conditioning coach, but didn’t say anything about what happened to him.

  • AdamDG


    From Teddy G. article above:
    “Jay Hooten has been promoted to director of football performance, replacing 30-year vet Larry Lilja, who captained the 1974 Wildcats.”

  • GoCatsGo0101

    I know that, but did he retire or something? It doesn’t seem like theres ever been mention of LLilja stepping down. whats the reason for the promotion? does anyone know about this Hooten guy?

  • AdamDG

    Hooten was Lilja’s assistant.

    Came over from Ohio St a few years ago.

  • Siren

    A little blurb about the changes in conditioning under Hooten.


  • Db

    Cats @ creighton – 12/22

    No Harvard game as some suggested

  • DT

    While your boat tour and ticket sales updates are appreciated, was wondering if you had any further word from The Athletic Department why the practices are closed and Kenosha requires reservations this year?


  • PBRCat

    Ouch! “The Persa Strong” highlight reel closes with the final touchdown pass against Iowa that proved to be Persa’s final play of 2010.

    Good to see Tim McGarigle is back! A shout out to a St. Patrick High School Shamrock!

    One of my favorite memories from McGarigle’s playing days occurred when the Cats rallied to beat the Hawkeyes (McPherson recovered an on side kick and this gave NU another scoring opportunity late and the Basenaz and the offense cashed it in) by a final score of 28-27 as time expired. As his parents were exiting the stadium, Mrs. McGarigle was shouting loudly and laughing hysterically. Although no one knew it at the time, this was Randy Walker’s final win in Evanston.

  • wildcat6


    Good story about the McGarigle family. One of my favorite memories from the Motor City Bowl in 2003 was that he had a strong following in the upper deck. At some point in the game a bunch of fans started to sing “Let’s Go McGarigle!” over and over, very loudly.

    Now if only we could have controlled Josh Harris and Cole Magner, it would have been a perfect day.

  • DT

    Harris and Magner could play and were well coached…

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