Notes: Fitzgerald's focus is on Indiana

Northwestern eyes a 5-0 start when it hosts Indiana on Saturday for the Big Ten opener. Coach Pat Fitzgerald is keeping his team focused on the Hoosiers, and that's it. Kevin Trahan of InsideNU.com, a PurpleWildcats.com partner, offers up notes from NU's Wednesday practice.

• Coach Pat Fitzgerald said NU has had good focus and practiced well the past few days.

Indiana's offensive balance is what concerns Fitzgerakd the most.

• Fitzgerald, on he Indiana offense: "It's going to be the best challenge, to this point, we've had as a defense and hopefully we'll rise to the challenge."

• On Indiana's offensive tempo, Fitzgerald said: "I would like to think we're prepared for it because that's what we do." Added that NU has seen that kind of thing before: "We played the Texas Tech offense. At times in that game we played very well, other times we missed tackles and played like garbage. Hopefully we'll rise to the occasion."

• Fitzgerald: "We had a crew a few weeks ago (Boston College) who stood over the ball. We couldn't go fast and we still ran 100 plays. We walked of the field against Boston College saying, 'Wow, that's the slowest crew we had in three years and we ran 100 plays.' And 60 of them were runs."

• Fitzgerald, on NU's offensive linemen needing to be conditioned, given the team's tempo: "It starts in recruiting. (Patrick Ward is) 6-foot-7, but he's 310 pounds, but he's lean. We're not a big believer in having guys out there that are... marshmallow men. That's not our belief. If we recruit guys that are in great shape in high school and play with a great motor in high school, then our strength and conditioning program hopefully can be the same way."

Quinn Evans got his first starting job last week. This week he's listed as a co-starter with Demetrius Dugar (he was listed as a backup last week). He said he expected to play all along: "I don't think any football player every comes into a season not thinking they're going to play, so I had hoped I could contribute to the team as much as I can and I'm pretty fortunate to be able to play as much defense as I do now so I'm excited. Every time you get an opportunity to start it's really exciting, especially for the first time, with a brand new team, I was extremely excited to get out there and be able to play and help the team get a victory."

• Evans: "I definitely feel a lot more comfortable. Like I said, any time you're going to be apart of a new defense there are going to be some hitches during camp. Luckily we were able to work those out and here I am."


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