Thursday Practice Report

Northwestern returned to the practice field for a Thursday morning workout in the Nicolet Football Center. Get the details from practice in this practice report.

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is stepping into his leadership role. Fitzgerald said Colter assumed some of that role last year when Dan Persa was injured, but this year, he has assumed the full role of leadership that comes with the starting quarterback position.

"If you were to poll our entire football team and say, 'do you have 100 percent confidence and belief that Kain Colter can lead us to a Rose Bowl championship?' It would be 100 percent yes," Fitzgerald said. "He's got that kind of respect."

Colter added: "I'm just trying to lead by example. If a guy sees me working hard, I feel like that might give him a better chance of working hard."

Kyle Prater took a big hit in practice today that knocked the wind out of him. He seemed okay afterwards and continued practicing. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald joked with him that "it was the first time he had been hit in about 48 months."

• The defensive secondary seemed improved when it came to defending shorter passes but had lapses defending against the deep ball, including a bomb over the middle from Colter that would have gone all the way.

"We're going to challenge them," Fitzgerald said. "We've got a damn good receiving corps, so they're getting challenged everyday."

• Elsewhere on defense, Fitzgerald has been impressed with defensive linemen Tyler Scott and Brian Arnfelt. Fitzgerald said they've stuck out because of consistency that comes with their experience as upperclassmen.

• Also speaking of the defense, Fitzgerald said: "There are some really good things happening making plays, and there are some guys that are getting torched. Those are all productive learning experiences. A guy that makes a big play, how does he respond the next couple plays. And maybe somebody got beat on a post route, do they come back? Do they pout? From those little details, the technique and the fundamentals, are we being consistent?"

• Colter sees himself as more mobile than Dan Persa and thinks that could influence the style of offense that NU runs this year, but the general style will remain the same.

"I feel like I may be a little bit more of a pure runner," he said. "So there might be a little more option, more quarterback runs." He later added: "As the season comes around and we start game-planning, there might be little things we do for certain situations, but nothing too drastic."

• After his first season on the field last year, Christian Jones has made a move to inside receiver. Colter said he thinks Jones will be a "big playmaker" for the Wildcats. Colter said "if you get it around him, he's going to come down with the ball," even if has to take a hit.

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