Superback Under Spotlight; Plus LTP Programming Notes

Matt Alviti quoted right out of the Pat Fitzgerald playbook in his recent interview to EdgyTim. One of the many reasons Alviti was convinced that Northwestern was right for him was that he felt he would be prepared “for the next 40 years” of his life after football. Well, on days like yesterday, when Louie Vaccher broke the news that NU sophomore Superback John Plasencia was done playing football due to injury you realize that the Fitz spiel isn’t just lip service. Plasencia, a redshirt sophomore who played in nine games last season and four the year before, was theoretically primed to get some serious playing time. . However, the Tampa (Jesuit) Florida native was told by the medical staff it was best if he hung up the cleats to avoid furthering an undisclosed medical situation. I can only imagine how painful an end to the dream this must be, especially with such a wide open race at the position.

Situations like this just make me sick. The hundreds of practices, the countless hours in the weight room and all of the sacrifices you make along with a family to get the honor to play at this level and then -BOOM – just like that the dream is gone. Man, I can’t even imagine. Here’s to the fact John made a wise college decision and he can take those energies and channel them in to something bigger in life. I’m confident he will still be a key part of this team, but now in a support role. Best wishes John!

 The superback position is a glorified tight end in the Northwestern spread system, but feels more wide receiver-ish than a traditional tight end.  Drake Dunsmore is on an NFL draft trajectory after a standout career and Brett Nagel graduated leaving a relatively green group that will have to produce someone to stand up and step out. Evan Watkins volunteered to make the move to SuperBack during bowl practice last season, yet he has been sidelined with an injury since then. That move is intriguing as Watkins’ size makes him an easy target especially on short yardage situations where he will tower over defenders. However, there is no guarantee he’ll be back at 100%. Jack Konopka vacated the spot and his trying to plug a hole on the offensive line. According to Vacher Mark Szott, Tim Riley, Brian Smith and walk-on Doug Diedrick will be vying for playing time.  The game experience among the group is virtually nil. Enter the incoming freshman class to the potential rescue for the position that seems worthy of a cape. Jack Schwaba and Dan Vitale will both have an opportunity as true freshmen to step in and get some playing time.  This position is a critical part of the offense in many respects and will be added to the list of intrigue as to how we’ll mature, hopefully quickly, filling some pretty big shoes to fill with Drake moving on to play on Sunday.

LTP Ticket Challenge Surge!

As you know, we’re trying to get 200 NEW season ticket holders to join the fun through you – the LTP community – this season. Our goal is to do our part towards packing Ryan Field purple and securing sellouts for the 47,130-seat stadium.  Obviously, 200 more season ticket holders won’t get us there, but it is a start as we added nearly 200 last year. A couple of shout outs are in order for a pair of fellas who convinced their significant other and one’s fiance that a season ticket was part of the drill. It’s a great weed out process for a long term relationship so kudos to Zachary B. (congrats on the engagement!) and Sam W. for his conversion of a Bostonian gal. Shawn B also convinced his girlfriend to join the party and scooped up a season ticket. Heck, all we need to do is get 1,000 or so girlfriends from you single alums/friends of the program and we’ll really make  a dent.  A triple shout out to Jeff S. who secured THREE new season ticket holders (a husband-wife team and a friend) and is also sending out an email campaign to Kellogg friends. Let’s get to 10% of goal – we only need five more to do just that. Email me at with your new season ticket holder story.

Program Alert

We’ve got a fun few days in store for you on LTP. The content is getting ratcheted back up a few notches. Tomorrow, NU president Morty Schapiro will make a cameo on LTP and talk about the “hot school” factor that NU has become among aspiring college kids. He’ll also share his thoughts on NU Athletics and what role they play in NU’s unprecedented applications this year. Plus, we’ll be talking to Sean Keeley, the proprietor of the best Syracuse blog out there – Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician – and getting a healthy dose of what’s going on with our season opening opponent. Plus, we’ve got a possible Under Armour/NU interview and a potential chat with Matt Alviti’s father. Stay tuned, we’ve got a packed week!

  • Scooter

    Ouch, losing John really hurts, both feeling for him, and for the success of our team next year. When Watkins switched to SB, my thought was “so he goes from third at QB to third at SB? Does he expect to get playing time out of this?” Maybe the coaches saw both this and Konopka’s switch coming and the Watkins move was to prepare for this possibility. Now it seems really good to have another option back there…

    Hopefully one of those guys steps up. It would be really nice to get a solid freshman to take the position over and hold it down for the next four years :)

  • Mark

    Best wishes to John! Right on point LTP – the work these guys put in to reach this level is unbelievable.

  • Chadnudj