Friday Practice Report

Northwestern got back into full pads for the first time of preseason camp. Overall, Pat Fitzgerald was pleased with his team's effort. Get the details from the practice field with these notes and quotes.

• The Wildcats started out practice with some basic drills for each position. The defense emphasized tackling techniques.

Pat Fitzgerald said of the first day in pads, "I thought we had really good enthusiasm today."

• Not much later, the Wildcats put their pads to good use. The players participated in the board drill for the first time in camp. This drill consists of a one-on-one matchup between opposite players (offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen, linebackers vs. running backs, etc.) as they try to knock each other past the board. The offense won the drill.

• One of the more intriguing board drill matchups involved freshman wide receiver Christian Jones and senior cornerback Michael Bolden, who have dueled in team drills. Bolden won the battle on the boards.

• The most impressive matchup was between running back Tyris Jones and linebacker David Nwabuisi. They each gave everything they could into what was nearly a five-second battle, which is a long match in the board drill.

• Freshman offensive tackle Shane Mertz was dominant during the board drill. He has incredible strength to go with his gigantic frame and was monstrous in his matchup in the drill.

Adonis Smith had the highlight of the day. He took a handoff to the outside and ran to the endzone without a defender in sight. Smith was too quick for the defenders to catch up with on that play.

Dan Persa was intercepted for the first time this week, though it wasn't his fault. Persa's pass was bobbled by Charles Brown. Brian Peters briefly corralled the loose ball and it flew into the air where Jeravin Matthews made the diving interception. Can't pin that on Persa.

Bryce McNaul looks better than ever. Pat Fitzgerald says McNaul is in the best shape of his career and it has shown through camp. McNaul appears more mobile than ever and gets himself involved in every play. His offseason was undoubtedly a productive one.

• Fitzgerald said after practice that McNaul is battling with Ben Johnson for the "Will" linebacker spot while Collin Ellis and Chi Chi Ariguzo are fighting for the spot at "Sam" linebacker.

• Fifth-year senior running back Jacob Schmidt has been a very impressive runner. He appears stronger than ever and is learning to run with that power on a consistent basis. Fitzgerald is pleased with Schmidt, who he hopes can find a role. Fitzgerald said, "You hate to see the adversity he faced last year but it will make him stronger in the long run."

Northwestern will have their first two-practice day on Saturday. The first practice is at 9:00 am and will be in full pads. The second practice will be a short practice in shells before the team heads up to Kenosha.

Friday Video Links:
Pat Fitzgerald
Tyler Scott
Hunter Bates

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