Notes: NU steps up physical play

Northwestern returned to the practice field to continue preparation for Boston College. The Wildcats were on the outdoor grass field for a two-hour workout, with an emphasis on stepping up the physicality. PurpleWildcats.com was on the sidelines and offers this practice report from Evanston.


• Before discussing practice, Pat Fitzgerald took a few moments to remember the victims of September 11th. Before practice, Fitzgerald spoke to the team about remember the day.

• Pat Fitzgerald was not pleased with the physicality -- or lack thereof -- his Northwestern team showed against Vanderbilt. The aim of Tuesday's practice was to turn that around. The Wildcats put in a two-hour workout on the outdoor grass field with an aim to correct that.

• The Wildcats produced a turnaround with physical play on Tuesday. Fitzgerald said, "I thought we came with our hard hats today."

• The group needing a physical practice the most was Northwestern's defensive line, a group which has been solid but can improve even more. Coach Marty Long was pushing his linemen to step up the physicality.

• Northwestern redshirt freshman cornerback Nick VanHoose practiced on Tuesday, but donned a non-contact red jersey, just as a precautionary. Said Fitzgerald: "He'll be good to go."

• The fact that Trevor Siemian has shown such confidence during game situations should not come as a surprise. Siemian is well prepared through practice. Northwestern uses practice time to give reserve players experience with the first-team offense or defense. That is especially the case at quarterback, where NU ensures the backup receives ample snaps.

• Starting quarterback Kain Colter has shown no negative signs in his deliver since his rib injury in the season-opener. Colter's poor completion percentage against Vanderbilt was due to a combination of poor throws and dropped passes. He has looked strong in practice, though.

• Northwestern won't be afraid to shake up the receiving core if dropped passes to become an issue. Cameron Dickerson and Pierre Youngblood-Ary are both options to see reps during games. Both turned in a strong showing on Tuesday.

• Third-string quarterback Zack Oliver showed solid movement in scrambling out of the pocket, when flushed to his left, he lofted a pass to the corner of the endzone where it was hauled in by superback Doug Diedrick.

• The Wildcats return to the practice field on Wednesday morning, with the game against Boston College inching closer.

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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