Practice Notes: August 4th, 2014

After a long, eventful offseason for the Wildcats, football is back in Evanston. Northwestern opened up camp Monday afternoon with two and a half hours of action that was forced indoors due to the thunderstorms in the area. I will be covering at least two practices per week leading up to the opener against Cal and will be back with more practice notes Thursday. Without further ado, we will dive right into our first set of practice notes for the 2014 season.

  • The atmosphere was lively as the ‘Cats took the field for the first time. Players were jumping around and shouting as teammates were making plays. It is clear they were champing at the bit to get out there for the first time. There was a ton of energy in the building.
  • Not a surprise, but Christian Jones made several impressive catches during individual drills. He adjusted really well to a ball that was thrown behind him and he snagged a couple out of the air. He was also lining up in the slot during team drills
  • Kyle Prater spent a lot of time working with the ones. During three-wide receiver sets, he was on the outside with Christian Jones working in the slot and Tony Jones on the other side. He made a very impressive diving catch on an out-route during team.
  • Freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson is the real deal. His motion is natural and the ball looks great leaving his hand. He also displayed impressive mobility during team drills.
  • The first team secondary showed why they are arguably the best unit throughout the practice. Traveon Henry had a nice pick off Trevor Siemian. Both starting cornerbacks had pass deflections off Siemian as well during team drills.
  • Also to note of the secondary, Godwin Igwebuike was rotating in a bit with the ones and Kyle Quiero looked strong in his time as well.
  • Zach Oliver worked with the twos, while Matt Alviti was with the threes. Alviti struggled a bit throwing the ball, but he had a long scramble and a nice throw to a diving Prater towards the end of practice.
  • Running back Justin Jackson displayed some nice moves, cutting through defenders and making people miss. It will be interesting to see if they burn the redshirt on him. My guess is they will, especially if he contributes in the special teams game.
  • Venric Mark is back and looked 100 percent. He turned the corner with the Venric speed we were accustomed to seeing in years past and said he “trusts his body.” He also said he is capabable of playing at an “elite” level this year.
  • JimmyHall_Syracuse031714Drew Smith and Jimmy Hall split time at linebacker with the ones. That is a position battle to watch as camp goes on. Tough to tell without pads on who has the upper hand.
  • Trevor Siemian looked confident and accurate throwing the ball. Besides the pick and a couple of minor miscues, he had a good overall practice. He was working the read option as well with the backs.
  • Defensive line wise, Sean McEvilly did not practice today, so Greg Kuhar and C.J. Robbins filled in at the tackle positions. Chance Carter worked with the twos.
  • I would keep an eye on Solomon Vault playing as a freshman as well. He had a strong practice and Fitz mentioned him afterwards as someone who could see some action.
  • Auston Anderson, Tommy Doles and Malcolm Bowman are out for the year with lower body injuries. Tommy Fuessel, Eric Joraskie, and Ben Oxley will also miss the entire season with upper body injuries.
  • Cam Dickerson was limited to non-contact drills, he is expected to be ready for week one against California. Stephen Buckley, Mike McHugh, and Parrker Westphal all missed practice today, but are also expected to be ready for the opener. Andrew Scanlan is out and will hopefully be ready by the Big Ten opener against Penn State.
  • mkasa

    “He was working the read option as well with the backs.”

    For all his reputation as a pocket passer, I think Siemian deserves a little more credit for his running ability. Go ‘Cats!

    • I also don’t want to see Siemian running much read-option though. I’m not sold on him as a good full-time starter, but much prefer him to anybody behind him at this point.

      Not a single backup QB has any meaningful game snaps taken (Oliver’s mop-up handoff duty doesn’t count), so I don’t want them exposing Siemian to unnecessary injury by running the read-option. He’s a pocket QB, so play call accordingly.

      • GoU2009

        Now I was sitting on the other side of the field (and had a few soda pops that morning), but I seem to remember him waltzing into the endzone untouched against Miss State in the Gator Bowl on a read option play…would be a nice wrinkle to use every once in a while to keep DEs at home & honest

        • he was certainly untouched in that play, because I think it was the first read-option he ran all year where he kept it. If you want to use it like that, maybe a maximum of 4-5x over the course of a season, I’m fine with that. I don’t want him running designed runs multiple times per game though.

    • bd5

      Maybe not quite the runner of say, Baz or Kustok, but Siemian is mobile enough to move around the pocket (when healthy) and roll out (or take the yards when there is open space in front of him).

      Agreed that the read-option shouldn’t be Siemian’s game-plan unless it’s a Siemian keeping the ball to pass on a roll out or something to that effect.

  • LTP

    Yikes. I was disheartened by the amount of season ending injuries. Hoping we can stave off the injury bug in 2014.

    • Catatonic Joe

      Those six names include 4 true freshmen and 2 redshirt freshmen. Declaring them out for the season may be an easier way to say, “You are not playing this year, son.”

      • I also read elsewhere that Daniel Jones is on that list.

        • Mark Wheaton

          That was reported a week ago. Old news.

          • I’ve been on vacation for the last 2 weeks. Hadn’t heard it until that. Apparently his career is done.

            Sucks for Jones; football injuries suck hard.

          • NUBobby95


        • bd5

          Stinks for DJ, but he’s officially retired.