We have a depth chart!

Depth charts are probably about as meaningless . . . well, I am not sure how meaningless they really are. Are they an actual statement from the coaching staff of who will start and who will not? Do coaches use them for subterfuge and to throw opposing coaches off a scent? Do they just tell us what we already know?!

I do not know.

What I do know is that this is the first week of the season, and Northwestern has released its depth chart.

We finally have answers (not really) to the position battles from training camp. And we are finally in Game Week. There will be actual Northwestern football this Saturday. This is the first sign of that. At least, for me it is. This football game is actually going to happen.

What did we learn from this first depth chart? Let’s answer some of those questions:

Questions remain at defensive end

Tyler Scott is definitely the left end. Who lines up at the right defensive end is another question.

The current depth chart has Dean Lowry (the favorite) listed as the starter with “or” Deonte Gibson. The staring position does not appear to have been resolved. And you have to wonder how long it takes for Ifeadi Odenigbo (listed as Scott’s back up) to get involved.

It seems like the competition for this position is still ongoing. There will be plenty of opportunity to make an impact along the defensive line. The focus of offensive lines will be squarely on Scott. Someone along the line — perhaps on the opposite side — will have to step up for Northwestern to have a successful season this year.

Who lines up on the opposite side of the line will be a key question for Northwestern throughout the week.

CollinEllisNebraska022713Collin Ellis is the SAM

The SAM linebacker position battle was a big one to watch this offseason in camp. Chi Chi Ariguzo and Damien Proby had the two linebacker positions on lockdown all camp. It was between Collin Ellis and Drew Smith for the other spot in the starting lineup.

It appears from this depth chart that Ellis has won the position battle. That settles that.

Not quite, of course. But this is where Northwestern will start it seems. Ellis is talented, but has never had this large a role at Northwestern. This is a big step up for him. He will have to perform well to maintain the job and keep Northwestern competitive. From reports at camp, the Wildcats linebacking crew is one of its most impressive units.

Ian Park the only freshman

Ian Park is the only freshman that will get a starting nod. Park redshirted last year and will start at right guard. He is listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds.

Entering camp, we knew that Jack Konopka and Brandon Vitabile would be the starters. There were four guys competing for three spots on the offensive line. Paul Jorgensen will line up at right tackle and Geoff Mogus will line up at left guard. Park beat out Shane Mertz for the final spot on the line. Mertz is a behemoth 6-foot-8, 310 pounds and is listed as the backup left tackle. I am sure we will see all four of these guys in the offensive line rotation this week.

It is notable though that, despite all the accolades for Northwestern’s recruiting class, no freshman will be on the field to start the game (as things stand now). Pat Fitzgerald’s belief in redshirting freshmen really takes hold. Hopefully Park and the other redshirt freshmen who take the field will be ready to go at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Treyvon Green 1-on-1 with EIUTreyvon Green is back

An interesting note on the depth chart is Treyvon Green getting an “or” behind Venric Mark with Mike Trumpy. Many of us assumed Trumpy would be the backup running back. Certainly in short yardage situations and passing downs when NU needs a blocker, Trumpy is the man.

Green though has largely been the forgotten piece of the running back rotation.

Green was really breaking through his freshman year in 2011 and seemed set to take over a larger role last year. Then a horrific injury in training camp knocked him out for the entire season. No one was quite sure what kind of shape he would be in.

The reports from camp were reminding some of us that Green could still be a strong contributor. This placement on the depth chart seems to confirm that. Green beat out Malin Jones in camp for now. It does not mean we will not see Jones in the opener against California. But Green appears to have played his way back into the running back rotation.

Waiting for Kyle Prater

It seems like we are still waiting for Kyle Prater to deliver on the promise of his talent. Prater is not only listed as a backup wide receiver, but he is sharing the back up X-receiver behind Tony Jones with Mike McHugh. Prater seems to continue to struggle.

Of course, it takes just one fade pass for him to score. If that is his role, he should be able to help Northwestern plenty.

Who is Kicking Off?

Maybe this one is not so important. Maybe it is.

With Steve Flaherty graduating, Northwestern needs a new kickoff specialist. This is the kind of minutia you care about as a Northwestern blog when you have nothing to write about in August.

Jeff Budzien was reported to have a weak leg and that is why he did not take part in the kick offs. That may not be the case any more. We all saw him nearly make that 50-plus yarder against Nebraska, and the reports from practice are that Budzien can make 60 yarders with ease. It seems Budzien has got this job so Northwestern can use a redshirt on freshman Hunter Niswander.

Of course, that could just be practice bluster and Northwestern may want a specific kickoff specialist. That may open the door for Niswander or punter Brnadon Williams.

In either case, no kick off specialist is listed on the depth chart, so we are left to guess.

  • Nate

    Game week, it’s good to be back. I hope Prater can find “it”, he looks like a guy who should be dominating small corners, but he isn’t the first blue chipper to not pan out. Surprised that Cam Dickerson didn’t make more of a jump either as he showed flashes of promise last year.
    Based on the retooled o-line, do you envision more of the same as last year from a scheme-standpoint with more of an influence on the ground game now that that ‘Cats have 3 legit ballcarriers and from all reports, a quicker Siemian to use in the option game? Defensively, I am excited to see Traveon Henry get to showcase his skills full-time at safety, I think he and Ibraheim will be force out there on the back line.
    Man, can’t wait to put the ball in the air so Venric can take it back to the house!

    • Chasmo

      Perhaps NU fans have to give up hope of Prater being anything more than a role player. If he had been a true star, he would have shown that talent at USC. Instead, he didn’t play at all.
      Sometimes transfers who did’t play much at their previous schools do blossom at a new location but most of the time they don’t. Prater seems to be among the majority that don’t.

  • nwildcat

    First off, when do the Cats arrive in San Francisco? Friday? I know the guys have been having “night” practices, but adjusting to pacific time will be crucial. Las Vegas won’t touch this game. I don’t like to adhere to bookies in dark rooms affecting our outlook, but this isn’t good-they are rarely wrong. I hope that I’m wrong- I just think that given all the love and hype the Cats have been given, we may be a bit in over our heads.

  • Catatonic Joe

    I’m on the train home from the LTP Kickoff Party. WELL DONE, LTP! Dan Persa, Steve Schnur and Zak Kustok were approachable and genial, a real pleasure to visit with. It was great chatting with other NU fans. There was more food than we needed and no long lines for drinks. On a scale of one to ten, tonight was a twelve. Please do this again next year! For those of you who sat this one out, you made a bad call. Jump at this opportunity next time.

    • Lake The Posts

      Thanks Catatonic Joe. Indeed, the former QBs made us all proud and entertained the socks off of folks with their fantastic stories. What a special, special night. Thanks to everyone who attended and Dan, Zak and Steve. One of those nights you wish you could somehow bottle up and share with all ‘Cats fans.

  • VA Cat

    LTP

    This is completely off topic, but I am concerned that I haven’t seen a contract extension for Kelly Amonte Hiller. Her current contract expires in 2015 and she has not been announced as one of the coaches receiving an extension.

    The women’s tennis coach got extended until 2020. I would have to believe that Kelly could get what she wanted. My concern is that if there is no extension with her, maybe she does not want to stay.

    Any insights?

    VA Cat

    • Lake The Posts

      Will keep an eye on this. Been tough to keep up with the constant roll-out of new contract extensions.

    • cece

      that is a scary thought. that sport gives a huge amount of ink and pride to the University. hope they sign her.

    • Icehockeycat

      Hopefully they are doing hers last so they can do it right. She is about as much of a “must get” as any coach we have. The program is very well supported, but a lot of schools are brining on LAX clubs and I am sure she is the number 1 “get” for anyone starting up a program as well.

  • Richard

    D-Linemen tend to rotate in and out all the time, so it’s silly to talk about a “battle” for the starters position.

  • John Olsen

    At the Meet the Team, Budzien indicated that he was handling kick-off duties.