Tuesday Practice Report

The Wildcats had their second practice in-a-row, and third practice in four days. It was a physical practice, as the team returned to full pads. Get the details in our PurpleWildcats.com practice report.

• After a day of returning to the basics, Northwestern got at it with a physical two-and-a-half-hour practice. They donned full pads.

• This was the Wildcats' second day in-a-row with a practice, and third practice in four days. After practice, Pat Fitzgerald said, "With back-to-back practices, we're right in the heart of the grind. I liked our mental toughness today."

• During the practice, the Wildcats participated in the "board drill", a physical one-on-one drill. In the drill, two opposing players (linemen vs. linemen, backs vs. backs) line up across from each other on a board. When the ball is snapped, the player tries to push their opposition six inches. The drill is a chaotic one, as the observers are rowdy and screaming at the participants, while loud heavy metal music blares from the speakers.

• Fitzgerald said of the drill, "If you don't come physically ready in that drill, you're going to get rolled off the board. It's the essence of football. We're trying to win a six-inch war. We want to move the line of scrimmage six inches one way or the other. It's kind of symbolic of how you want to control the line of scrimmage."

• The team participated in a full team offense vs. defense drill. The defense appeared to be the better unit today. They had the offense contained throughout the drill. After each successful stop, the members of the defense joined together in a rowdy celebration. This is a major part of rebuilding that attitude, such as what Brian Peters talked about on Monday.

• I watched Evan Watkins closely today. The quarterback struggled with accuracy at times, but had some other throws that were right on target. I do believe that he has added some extra speed to his throws compared to last season.

• One of the main topics of post-practice conversation was Ibraheim Campbell, a redshirt freshman safety. Coach Fitzgerald said that he regrets not burning Campbell's redshirt last season, but said now, he's very excited that he has him for an extra year.

• Fitzgerald also said, "We got a group of guys that are persevering and battling through some dings, bumps, add bruises. For that, I'm proud of them. For some other guys, they better get out of the tub, because there are some guys who are getting better. It's fun for me to watch."

• The play of the day came on a pass from Kain Colter to Mike Jensen. This spring, Jensen is a guy who has rapidly improved. The walk-on may be looking at some meaningful reps this season.

• Fitzgerald also talked about two walk-on running backs who continue to boost their stock, Tyris Jones and Tim Hanrahan. Fitzgerald praised each of their attitudes, and hinted that each running back could take on an increased role this season.

• Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz talked about the Wildcats' defense so far. He said of the unit's effort, "I think we're more aggressive, we're tackling better, and beating blocks better. I like that."

• At the end of practice, redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Siemian stayed after for some extra work.

• The Wildcats will get a light workout in on Wednesday, and return to the practice field on Thursday morning.

Pat Fitzgerald post-practice
Mike Hankwitz post-practice
Ibraheim Campbell post-practice

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