Despite Blizzard Conditions, Wildcat Spring Football Is Here!

Yech. That is the thought of anyone suffering through a miserable Chicago commute at the time of this post. YES! That is the mindset of most Wildcat football fans on the eve of the kickoff to Northwestern’s spring football. The ‘Cats are getting all kinds of press, including this feature by USA Today’s  (and LTP fav) Paul Myerberg (aka the king of college football countdowns) and this great Q&A exchange between ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg and Pat Fitzgerald.

I’m going to share most of this post on Rittenberg’s Q&A, but first, it is important to note 13 players in total will be sitting out this spring football season with injuries. I’m not going to get too worked up over the injury list, but it is pretty deep. Three starters, including LB Damien Proby, CB Nick VanHoose and OT Jack Konopka are all out. Plus, several key players expected to compete for starting jobs are also sidelined including both Paul Jorgensen and Matt Frazier on the OL, while the DL misses out on Will Hampton and Deonte Gibson. WR Kyle Prater will be out this spring as well. Yikes.

Fitz continues to become more comfortable in his information sharing and the like with the media. It may be his single biggest growth area in his seven years in Evanston. There were several key things I gleaned from the exchange with Adam Rittenberg.

  • Moving up practices maximized potential injury recovery time AND accommodated the finals and spring break schedule.
  • Momentum of the success while contrasting that with a “starting over” approach was intriguing.
  • The seemingly Moneyball-like analytics he’s referring to as to how they are approaching implementing the bigger picture schemes after getting the foundation set.
  • Speed, speed, speed. When a coach acknowledges a team trait like this publicly, you know he’s giddy about it.

There are 15 practices set between February 27 through the April 13 Spring Game (heretofore always in all caps to underscore its importance).  This time of year I wake up every morning (or check online every afternoon) and hold my breath that there are no (more) injuries. It’s the ying to the positive yang of hoping today’s the day we land that next commitment (or is it ying to the yang?).  Fitz specifically mentioned the ‘Cats “Winning Edge” workout regimen and how he knew based on last year’s measurements that the team was on to something big. Well, I’m working on a story right now on this program and how much it’s become legend and lore among former Wildcat players. Stay tuned for that.

You can also already tell Fitz isn’t shy about the Big Ten title as the stated goal.  He’s slipping it in to responses already, yet another sign of media relations changes.  Last year, too, he was pretty vocal about being THIS close to it and even acknowledged that the media didn’t believe him (after a 6-7 season), but he was confident. Now, a year later, his assessing the fact both Kain and Trevor will be very much a part of the Big Ten title quest, and the way he addresses it head on is something that media, even national media, like Paul Myerberg, are promoting as a realistic potential. Everyone is 0-0 again and the momentum is on our side. I’m excited to get in to some football. How about you?

  • Next Cat

    Hey, if Fitz is giddy about team speed, I am too. If he says it’s the fastest team since he took over, does that likely make it the fastest NU team ever? I certainly don’t recall any prior squad known for overall team speed . . . but then I’m a Dark Ages alum and that means my memory is both clouded and increasingly subject to failure.

  • Polymersci

    Can somebody help me understand how 13 players get injured in the time since the Gator Bowl? Most of the guys that LTP mentioned played in the bowl game or am I missing something?

    • Next Cat

      Post-season surgeries for a number of them. So not necessarily injuries that would’ve kept ‘em out of the bowl game.

    • cebpd

      guys play hurt. other guys aren’t worth risking an injury in spring ball.

  • Frank

    Great feeling to have football actually happening. Didn’t the team hold out some starters from last year’s spring football? No big deal holding out proven players if the main reason for spring practice is to see what untested players bring to the table.

    I was impressed to see Fitz say in the ESPN piece that the level of intensity of the 2013 team this off season is the highest he’s seen. Bodes well for the upcoming season.

    Can’t wait for August to roll around.

    Go Cats!!

  • CatAlum06

    Can anyone elaborate on what “Winning Edge” workouts are? Fitz referenced the brand twice in that interview.

    • Lake The Posts

      I’m working on a story on this. It’s their specific workout routine and its a source of great pride. Stay tuned.

  • NUcappy

    Anything to make me forget about basketball is welcome news. Bring on “Spring” football!

  • Elston Gunn

    LTP wrote: “There are 15 practices set between February 27 through the April 13
    Spring Game (heretofore always in all caps to underscore its
    importance).”

    “Heretofore” means before now. “Hereafter” or “henceforth” is the word you’re looking for.

    • Dave

      Most Northwestern sports blog comment ever

      • Reader

        Agreed -love this comment!