Big Lineman goes down in Final Practice

Nobody likes to see any player injured during a practice, but NU Fans got a big scare Saturday when a <b>starter</b>, Sophomore Tackle <b>Zach Strief</b> didn't get up after a play.<br><br> The injury could have been a big, big problem if it had occurred in the Fall but he's got all Summer to recover, so what about that already thin <b>NU Offensive</b> line?

Sophomore Tackle Zach Streif [6-7 335], one of Northwestern University's starting offensive tackles gave everyone a scare yesterday during one of the 11 on 11 drills when he remained on the ground after one of the plays.

He was in a lot of pain, apparently in his lower leg, and had to be removed using a golf cart after his left leg was imobilized using a spling, but later reports were that he had only sprained his ankle. He was taken to the hospital for X-Rays, but the trainers expected the reports to be negative Northwestern does not routinely release injury information on players.

The Wildcats' have described their O-Line situation as "fluid," and are already short of Offensive Linemen with experience after 2 returning starters, Senior Guard Carl Matejka, who decided to forgo his final season, and Junior Tackle Trai Essex [6-4 280] took a leave of absence to work on his academic standing.

Junior Guard Matt Ulrich [6-2 305] was moved to Center midway through the Spring and Coach Walker told us after the practice that barring a major change, he will be the starting Center in the Fall. Two of NU's incoming freshmen linemen are centers.

NU Coach Randy Walker did comment that Redshirt Juniors Bill Newton and Ikechuku Ndukwe had already stepped up their level of play, and injured lineman - RS Freshman Joe Tripodi [6-3 280] who was cleared to practice but held out to avoid injury, was also ready to challenge for a starting position at Camp Kenosha.

Even so, the patched up Offensive Line might be the weakest part of the NU team in 2003 after the loss of center Austin King, drafted Sunday by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, and guard Jeff Roehl. NU had already moved Sophomore Tight End Joe Wohlscheid and Freshman Defensive Tackle Jim Devine to O-Line. Devine is listed as the #2 Center.

We'll have more on the final Spring Practice later as we get you the post practice interview transcriptions.

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