Notes: NU amps up the intensity

Northwestern took to the practice field on Tuesday with the intention of making steady improvements, namely in special teams. It was a busy, high-energy practice for the Wildcats on the outdoor grass field. PurpleWildcats.com offers notes and observations from NU's workout.

· Pat Fitzgerald vowed to improve Northwestern's special teams units, that following an embarrassing showing in Saturday's contest with Indiana. On Tuesday, special teams work kicked off practice.

· The Wildcats were much better in kick coverage, showing they could maintain lane integrity. Throughout the drill, Fitzgerald was encouraging his players to do it better each time.

· During the entire session, Fitzgerald had an extra bit of energy. He sprinted at full speed between each drill, offering encouragement and advice at each position. His energy carries throughout the field to everyone else.

· During NU's practices, music often blares from loudspeakers to keep the energy level high. However, during Big Ten game weeks, the speakers sound the opposing fight songs; this week, of course, playing Penn State's fight song.

· Kain Colter continued his work at both quarterback and wide receiver, as he has for several weeks. When not in a particular play, Colter stands on the sidelines with the quarterbacks and receivers. Colter is well-versed with each position, but has a great football IQ to handle all that's on his plate.

· Safety Ibraheim Campbell was back at practice. Fitzgerald indicated on Monday that the sophomore will be ready to play in Saturday's game against Penn State.

· Freshman safety Traveon Henry continues to receive a heavy amount of reps at safety, working in place of Campbell and next to him. Henry must use his practice time to gain a better grasp of the schemes.

· Neil Deiters and Matt Frazier continue to receive the majority of snaps at right guard, as has been the case for the past few weeks.

· Sophomore receiver Christian Jones continues to impress. The big, physical target has become a reliable option for both of Northwestern's quarterbacks. He is a tremendous practice player.

· Offensive lineman Patrick Ward and Jack Konopka each spoke of the leadership in the offensive line room. It was interesting they each mentioned that sophomore center Brandon Vitabile has emerged as a leader, organizing drills and meetings for the group.

· The play of the day came from freshman running back Stephen Buckley, working with the scout team offense against the first-string defense. Buckley broke a big run up the middle, then turned up his speed to the outside. Buckley has shown great potential at running back.

· At the end of practice, the Wildcats gathered together and sang the Northwestern fight song; with no cameras or guests to receive it. Just team spirit coming out after another day's work. · NU returns to the practice field on Wednesday. Stay with PurpleWildcats.com for plenty of coverage.

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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