As LTP mentioned in his notes from Northwestern’s second day of practice, the first few days of practice have been spent breaking everything down and preparing to build everything back up on both sides of the ball. The first two days have been without pads and without full hitting to make sure those fundamentals are in place. The physical portions of practice have taken place late in the afternoon so that the players can spend time in the classroom learning the basics of the playbook and going through walkthroughs.
The anticipation for the first practice in pads is palpable as Northwestern is really going to start getting down to business soon.
But those basics are pretty important. After all, Northwestern is trying to fix some very basic problems. Last season, the Wildcats had communication issues and breakdowns in the secondary that stemmed in part from a poor pass rush. The offense had its struggles too with consistency in the run game and uncertainty at quarterback with Kain Colter all over the place.
A lot of the discussion with the Wildcats begins and ends with Colter right now. It is quite clear he will be the team’s starting quarterback and it is quite clear he can be the team’s leader. In fact, it is probably his overeagerness right now that is holding things up. Colter is raring to go and get the offense up to even faster speeds. It is good to hear he has that much comfort and familiarity with the offense already.
Only problem is Kyle Prater and the rest of the newcomers on offense need to catch up a bit, as he told Seth Gruen of the Chicago Sun-Times:
It’s so frustrating. It’s like my fifth time going through the offense. I feel like I could install it. But every time you learn something different. So it’s good. But at the same time, you want to go out there, run some different plays, but right now we’re limited.
It is all certainly a learning process for the Wildcats, both freshmen and veterans players. Colters i very comfortable in the offense and what he can do in it. Chris Emma of PurpleWildcats.com reported some very positive play from Colter in the early going, including his ability to create with his legs and throw across his body. Colter certainly seems to be stepping up in the early parts of practice.
There is no rushing this process though, especially with so many new players and freshman expected to make an impact this year. Northwestern, one could argue, had issues at the very basic levels that needed correcting. This is the time to make sure that foundation is laid and built upon for the remainder of the season. So sorry, Kain, you are going to have to wait a little while before the offense gets to full speed.