Notes: NU brings the energy

Northwestern returned to the practice field on Tuesday morning, that after being handed its first loss of the season. The energy level from the Wildcats was high as the team focused on patching its wounds. PurpleWildcats.com offers notes and observations from Evanston.

· Following a gut-wrenching loss to Penn State, there is no time for the Wildcats to pout; not with Minnesota around the corner. Northwestern split time between the outdoor and indoor practice fields on Tuesday morning for a busy team workout.

· The reason for the move indoors was because Northwestern wanted to move its team drills away from the gusty lakefront winds, according to Pat Fitzgerald.

· When asked how practice went for the Wildcats, Fitzgerald responded with a one-word response: "Great!"

· The energy level was noticeably a bit higher than usual, especially among the players. It's hard to slouch in NU's fast-paced practice atmosphere, but the excitement shared by the Wildcats served as a positive reinforcement following a tough loss.

· Running back Venric Mark missed time in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game with Penn State, and was declared "dinged up" by his head coach on Monday. However, Mark fully participated in practice and looked to be his usual, agile self.

· On a pass along the sidelines, Mark made a defender whiff by unveiling an impressive spin move, allowing him to scamper forward.

· The scout team offense had a few tricks up its sleeve to simulate the Minnesota offense. The defense is prepared for various different looks the Gophers could offer.

· When the scout team defense took the field against the first-team offense, quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter were challenged to make quick decisions against blitzes from the linebackers and cornerbacks. Each were able to react properly.

· Quarterback Zack Oliver displayed his standout arm to beat the first-team defense twice. The first connection was on a bomb more than 40 yards down the field which was hauled in by freshman receiver Mike McHugh. His second was along the left side of the field and received by Pierre Youngblood-Ary.

· Superback Dan Vitale was utilized in the offense frequently in practice. The freshman may take on a busier role as he continues to mature.

· The play of the day came from freshman superback Jack Schwaba. On a pass over the middle, Schwaba took a big hit in the air, but still managed to haul in the pass and hold the football. After looking almost surprised he held on, Schwaba was whisked away to quickly run the next play.

· NU returns to practice on Wednesday morning as it continues to prepare for the Golden Gophers.

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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