Notes: NU still seeking improvements

Northwestern's record stands at a perfect 3-0, but that is still not good enough for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. During his Monday news conference, looking ahead to Saturday's contest with South Dakota, Fitzgerald stated he is looking for better play. PurpleWildcats.com offers notes, quotes, and more from the Monday presser.

Listed below are Northwestern's weekly honors for Boston College week:

Player of the Game: Jeff Budzien
Offensive Player of the Game: Mike Trumpy
Defensive Player of the Game: Brian Arnfelt
Offensive Playmakers of the Game: Pat Ward, Kyle Prater, Christian Jones
Defensive Playmakers of the Game: Chi Chi Ariguzo, Tyler Scott
Practice Players of the Week: Malin Jones, Eric Wilson, Terrance Brown

--Starting running back Venric Mark is expected to return to practice on Tuesday, head coach Pat Fitzgerald confirmed to the media during the beginning of his Monday news conference. Mark suffered a lower body injury during the third quarter of Saturday's 22-13 win over Boston College.

--Starting right guard Chuck Porcelli was a late scratch from Saturday's contest with Boston College, as he was injured late in the practice week, after the injury report is released on Thursday evening. Fitzgerald said Porcelli was available to play against the Golden Eagles, but Neil Deiters, Matt Frazier, and Paul Jorgensen held down the right side. "The way that things were flowing, we were playing pretty well on that right side," Fitzgerald said.

--The South Dakota week depth chart offers no changes from the previous contest, but head coach Pat Fitzgerald emphasized he hopes to see heavy competition in practice this week.

--When asked to preview Northwestern's Saturday matchup with South Dakota, Fitzgerald didn't waste much time addressing the week's goal. "Our focus will be on us," he said. "We've got a lot of room for improvement. We have not yet put together a clean game."

--But who will be the starter for Saturday's game? Fitzgerald stands by his claim that Kain Colter is the starter and Trevor Siemian is option '1B' for Northwestern. He added: "Both guys are moving the ball. We went 30-of-40 moving the ball. We've gotten good production there. That being said, both guys want to play."

--In looking back on Northwestern's win over Boston College, Fitzgerald addressed the issues inside the red zone. "The only thing that stopped us Saturday was us," he said.

--True freshman safety Traveon Henry burned his redshirt during Saturday's game, recording two tackles in the win. Henry has a chance now to compete for playing time at safety. Fitzgerald said, "He's in the mix right now.

--Fitzgerald offered high praise for freshman superback Dan Vitale, in comparing him to the departed Drake Dunsmore. "I think he's a little further ahead than Drake [was] as a true freshman," he said of Vitale.

--During Northwestern's new conference last Monday, Fitzgerald called out his wide receivers. Today, he admitted to being pleased with the returns on Saturday, and even suggested the challenge was offered due to media praise from the preseason. "When things are written good about you, the coach has to take you down," said Fitzgerald.

--Fitzgerald closed out the press conference by addressing Northwestern's new on-campus athletic complex, which does not yet have an estimated groundbreaking set. "It can't be fast enough, can't be quick enough," Fitzgerald said of the process. When Fitzgerald was jokingly asked if opposing teams could spy from outside the facility in Lake Michigan, he responded, "I know the Coast Guard pretty well."

Northwestern receiver Demetrius Fields, safety Jared Carpenter, and defensive end Tyler Scott met with the media next.

--The Wildcats are ready for competition to continue throughout practice; in fact, they embrace it. "It helps a lot, in terms of everybody staying focused and staying motivated," said Fields.

--What impressions does Traveon Henry give you, Jared Carpenter? "He's a very gifted young player. When he came in [to campus], he was already big enough to play."

--Northwestern's defense has allowed just 13 points in its past two games, that following a 41-point output against it during the season-opener. "I think we're playing with more confidence than we did during that first game," said Tyler Scott.

--Scott accidentally injured Carpenter during Saturday's game against Boston College. Following a pass break-up, Scott stepped on Carpenter's ankle during a celebration which forced him to visit the trainers. Carpenter, however, returned to action immediately.

--Scott has been disapppointed to how Northwestern's secondary takes on much of the blame for the defense's struggles. "It kind of hurt to have all the blame put on the secondary because it's not just the secondary that's invoved in the pass game; it's up front, too."

Northwestern hits the practice field on Tuesday morning as it begins preparations for South Dakota.

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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