Thursday Practice Report

The Wildcats had an intense full pads practice on Thursday. Get the scoop on how it went.

Northwestern had another practice in full pads. They practiced for two hours inside the Nicolet Center. This was their second full pads practice this week.

• This was undoubtedly the team's most intense practice of the spring. That started with Pat Fitzgerald, who was constantly encouraging his players to pick up the energy.

• Fitzgerald said after practice, "I thought we had good energy. We came back with a great attitude to work hard and get better. I'll have to watch the tape to be more specific, but I thought the guys did a nice job."

• After an intense practice, Fitzgerald emphasized how important it is to avoid injuries. He said, "You've got 22 of your own guys on the field every down. The injury risk goes up. We're going to go hard, but the health, safety, and well-being of our guys is the first priority."

• Being in full pads, the team had a chance to go all-out in team drills for the second straight practice. This was by far the most physical team drill that the Wildcats have held this spring.

• After a bad play for the offense, Coach Fitzgerald yelled at senior offensive tackle Al Netter, telling him to get his unit in line. Netter has taken on the role of leader on the offense. The offense responded with a much better play after Netter took charge.

Jeremy Ebert said of practice, "We had a little down and up offensively, but in the end, it was a good day of practice."

• Ebert said that thus far, he's seen the wide receivers have shown a lot of knowledge of the offense, which has improved since last season.

• Quarterback Evan Watkins returned from a rough Tuesday with a strong Thursday. He had one of his best days with control.

• I also got to watch Kain Colter closely. He has a great ability to set up a better throw by using his feet to scramble. He would be labeled as a "scrambler" but that's not his first priority. That makes him a better weapon under center.

Venric Mark amazed me again. On a pass over the middle, he used every maneuver in his arsenal to escape from the defense. This guy is an absolute playmaker that Northwestern will need to utilize as much as possible.

• The play of the day came from wide receiver Drew Moulton, who caught a long pass and burned by the defense for a touchdown.

• A big play for the defense came on a Brian Peters interception. The safety took it down the sidelines and snuck into the endzone for a touchdown.

• I've watched Peters closely throughout practice, and I find myself impressed by his leadership ability with the defense. He is constantly calling out signals to the defense. When the ball is snapped, he turns into a ball hawk. He will be a major threat on the defense, and somebody that opposing quarterbacks need to account for.

• Senior CB Ricky Weina is getting a few additional reps at cornerback. He may be a candidate for some playing time at different spots in the secondary.

• The Elk Grove High School football team was on hand to watch Northwestern's practice today.

• The Wildcats will return to the practice field on Saturday morning for an inter-squad scrimmage. That practice will go a bit longer than usual, thanks to extra time being made available.

• Due to some technical difficulties, my post-practice video with Jeremy Ebert will not be posted, unless I'm able to fix it.

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