• Even with the high speed and intensity, practice still has a smooth flow. After each play, the players quickly sprint back to their position and get in stance, before the ball is snapped shortly after. As always, Fitzgerald is in the middle of every drill, cheering and encouraging each player.
• The Wildcats' first-team offense and defense squared off in practice. Notably present in the group was Brian Arnfelt, who has moved into Niko Mafuli's spot at defensive tackle. Arnfelt did, however, split reps with Will Hampton and Chance Carter.
• On the offensive line, Chuck Porcelli rotated into Al Netter's spot at tackle at times, while Neal Deiters saw some time at right guard, stepping in for Ben Burkett. The coaching staff got a good look at the two linemen against first-team defenders.
• Former linebacker turn converted superback Tim Riley saw some extra reps with the first-team offense today. Fitzgerald said, "I think he has embraced the role."
• Junior receiver Demetrius Fields was targeted many times in practice, and by multiple quarterbacks. On one pass, he deflected the football to himself, and made the catch, charging ahead for a big gain. Coach Fitzgerald said of Fields, his best on-field quality is his "consistency."
• The scout team offense stepped in for much of practice against the first-team defense, providing a look at Texas A&M's offense. It has been impressive to watch the growth of freshman quarterback Zack Oliver. He appears to be carrying himself with more confidence.
• Pat Fitzgerald said on Wednesday that Oliver is learning how to use his weight properly. That was evident today, when the freshman was forced out of the pocket. He used a strong push off his back foot to scramble out of the pocket and gain some yardage. That strong first step propelled him to the open field.
• There were some visitors at practice. Four-star junior quarterback Matthew Alviti along with Maine South teammates and coaches were on-hand in Evanston to check out practice. Alviti has been a frequent visitor at Northwestern during the past month. Of course, he has hinted that his decision may be coming soon.
• The Wildcats spent their Friday night at the Second City Improv Club, spending some more time together. They practice again on Saturday morning, then once more on Monday, before traveling home later that day for a brief holiday break.
Stay with PurpleWildcats.com for details of Saturday's practice.