Notes: Wildcats tested during scrimmage

Northwestern got down to business with a scrimmage at Camp Kenosha. The practice offered Northwestern coaches a detailed look at many of the team's promising young players. So which players managed to impress during the 90-minute scrimmage session? PurpleWildcats.com was on the sidelines and files these notes from the campus of Wisconsin-Parkside.

• In front of family, fans, and friends, the Wildcats took to the practice field at Camp Kenosha for a team scrimmage, lasting approximately 90 minutes. Pat Fitzgerald smiled when addressing the media afterwards to declare it was an injury-free practice.

• Fitzgerald said of the team's effort: "I'm just encouraged right now with where our attitude is. We had a pretty hard workout yesterday. To see the way the guys came out with some heavy legs, I thought they handled it pretty well."

• As is customary, many of Northwestern's key players were sidelined to keep their legs fresh. The list of those not in uniform includes Kain Colter, David Nwabuisi, Ibraheim Campbell, Demetrius Fields, Rashad Lawrence, Brian Arnfelt, Brian Mulroe, Tyler Scott, Venric Mark, and Brandon Vitabile, among others.

• The day was far from a waste for quarterback Kain Colter. He stood along the side of offensive coordinator Mick McCall during the duration of the scrimmage.

• More importantly, the practice gave Fitzgerald and his staff a thorough evaluation of some young, emerging Wildcats. The most impressive was freshman defensive end Dean Lowry, who created havoc for the offensive line. Fitzgerald suggested Lowry could see the field this season, and may find himself working in with the first-team defense.

• Another freshman standout is wide receiver Andrew Scanlan. If it weren't for a deep unit, Scanlan would likely find himself on the field this season. Instead, he'll surely don a redshirt.

• After the scrimmage started with special teams drills, the first-team offense took the field, led by quarterback '1A' Trevor Siemian. On the first play, Siemian connected with Kyle Prater along the sidelines. Prater has battled injuries through camp, but has been at practice for the past couple days. Prater suggested his being sidelined was more of a precautionary.

• Several plays later, Prater hauled in a 20-yard catch on a bullet from Siemian. After being taken down, he leaped up and celebrated the catch. It's safe to say he's feeling the excitement.

• Siemian has been very impressive during camp. He has demonstrated an ability to throw downfield with accuracy and velocity. You would find Siemian as the starter on many BCS teams. Even so, I would be surprised if McCall didn't find some role for the sophomore.

• Redshirt freshman quarterback Zack Oliver has vastly improved his short- and medium-range passes, but continues to struggle with passes for more than 20 yards. While he has plenty of time to develop, those issues need to be fixed before he can take the field.

• During a passing play, Oliver was flushed out of the pocket and forced to tuck the ball and run, showing great open-field speed. The confidence in his abilities is a great step forward for the young quarterback.

• One of the ways Lowry caused problems today was when he deflected a Siemian pass high in the air. As a herd of Wildcats surrounded the ball, Timmy Vernon batted it back to Siemian, who made the catch on his own pass.

• Sophomore offensive lineman Jack Konopka worked in with the first-string offense at right tackle today, but also switched in at left tackle, too. If Konopka were not to win the starting job at right tackle, he would have the versatility to serve as Patrick Ward's backup.

• Konopka has the talent and knowledge of the position to play at right tackle. His footwork is exceptional. The issue is sustaining his pass blocks. If Konopka is able to work together a consistent level of play, he will have a great career.

• At right guard, it would appear that redshirt freshman Matt Frazier may have locked up the starting job. He has shown tremendous talent through the first two weeks of preseason camp.

• With Mulroe sidelined on Saturday, redshirt freshman Geoff Mogus stepped in his place at left guard. Mogus is likely the second-stringer at the position, but appears in line to start next season, once Mulroe moves on.

• With Venric Mark sidelined with an off day, it was Mike Trumpy taking the majority of reps with the first-team offense. Trumpy has continued to show he is healthy and can run with force, which is surely a positive sign. Tim Hanrahan spent much of the practice working in at running back with the second-team offense.

• At the wide-open superback position, it would appear that Tim Riley and Dan Vitale are in line for the most playing time. Also, Mark Szott is in the mix, too.

Traveon Henry has been very impressive at safety through the early part of camp. The true freshman has added some size to his frame. With the strong spring Henry has produced, he could find himself on the field this season. Similar to the Odenigbo situation, that will be the coaches' decision, and likely a tough one to make.

• Fellow freshman safety Terrance Brown hauled in an impressive interception of a Zack Oliver pass, but he would take a big hit from Scanlan. Brown was mobbed by his teammates after the play was over.

• Cornerback Mike Eshun finished the day with two interceptions, an impressive showing.

• The final stats at quarterback: Trevor Siemian completed six of seven passes for 34 yards; Zack Oliver connected on six of nine attempts for 79 yards, but threw two interceptions.

• At the conclusion of practice, the team gathered around and received a speech from Northwestern president Morty Shapiro, then Board of Trustees chairman Pat Ryan, who watched the scrimmage from along the sidelines, addressed the team for the very first time. Said Fitzgerald, "To have [Ryan] address the guys was very special."

• Camp Kenosha is nearly complete. The team spends Sunday on recovery workouts with the strength and conditioning staff. On Monday, the Wildcats will visit Great Lakes Naval Base, then head back to Evanston.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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