Notes: Wildcats moving forward

Following a one-point escape from Syracuse, the Northwestern Wildcats returned to Evanston for a two-hour workout on the outdoor practice field. Pat Fitzgerald believes a football team can makes its biggest improvements between the first and second game; he hopes that will be the case for his young squad.

• The emphasis after Northwestern's 42-41 win over Syracuse is that the team has a lot to improve on. The Wildcats began work toward such goal on Tuesday with a two-hour practice on the steamy outdoor field.

• After being removed before the final drive of Saturday's game due to an injury, Kain Colter was back on the practice field Tuesday and showed no ill effects. Colter did admit he injured his ribs, not his throwing shoulder.

• Colter also offered some clarity to why he did not lead Northwestern's offense on what was the game-winning drive. He admitted that his ribs were in too much pain to effectively throw necessary passes downfield, and he felt given his condition that backup Trevor Siemian offered the team a better chance to win. "I wanted to be smart," Colter said.

• Running back Venric Mark donned a red non-contact jersey on Tuesday but was a full-go in practice and showed nothing to be concerned about. In fact, Mark busted an impressive run in practice when he was led to the outside. Mark turned his momentum to the middle of the field, juking out the safety, then turned up toward the outside. It does so much for Northwestern's offense having a playmaker like Colter.

Jared Carpenter stepped in as the first-team safety in place of Davion Fleming, as the new depth chart indicated would be the case. Carpenter said his experience as a fifth-year senior helps slow the game down, and is a key advantage he has in the secondary.

• During team drills, running back Treyvon Green busted a big run as he pushed from the middle to the outside. Green's teammates exploded from the sidelines after the big play. Green is really running with force this season.

Roderick Goodlow saw some reps at defensive end today. Goodlow started fall camp at defensive end but moved back to linebacker.

• New second-team defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo spent much of team drills working in with the first-team defense. Odenigbo will wear the number 18 on the field but still is wearing number 7 in practice.

• Northwestern's first-team defense spent some time in practice working against the Wildcat formation of the scout team offense, simulating the package Vanderbilt ran against South Carolina.

• The Wildcats return to the practice field on Wednesday morning. Stay with for plenty of coverage as NU prepare for Vanderbilt.

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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