Practice Notes: Hard by Design

Chris Emma returns with an excellent and informative guest spot at, where he delves into the big stories from Kenosha.

— As the Wildcats drove to Camp Kenosha on Sunday night, head coach Pat Fitzgerald felt his team was relaxed and prepared for a grueling week. If any players weren't ready, then Monday's two-hour workout served as a wake-up call. "Today was really hard," Fitzgerald said after practice. "It's hard by design. It's always hard by design."

— In Kenosha, the Wildcats look to get mentally focused and ensure they're physically ready. Before practice, they worked on fundamentals. When they got to the practice field, it was a test. The coaches put them through different in-game scenarios, from goal line situations to two-minute drill. In between, there's no walking allowed. "I thought they responded really well," Fitzgerald said.

— Freshman quarterback Matt Alviti said he didn't learn any Kenosha horror stories from the seniors. He is prepared for a chemistry-building experience. "It's just us, the team," Alviti said.

— Alviti has looked very sharp through his first few practices at Northwestern, and that continued on Monday. He was on point with seemingly every throw in 7-on-7 drills.

— When the Wildcats went into scrimmaging, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian split first-team reps. It was interesting to note that Zack Oliver took the load of reps with the twos—preparing the backup for any situation he could face. Oliver has come a long way in the past year, really improving his accuracy.

— The most important stat on offense today: no interceptions. The Wildcats' quarterbacks have really limited mistakes in practice.

— Fitzgerald pinpointed Northwestern's kick game as a major positive from Monday's practice. "I think we've got great team speed," he added.

— Receiver Cameron Dickerson has proven to be a real playmaker in the offense. He has great size and consistent hands. In 7-on-7 drills, he was the go-to target for each quarterback. There seems to be a real comfort with Dickerson.

— On the offensive line, Ian Park took first-string reps at right guard. The redshirt freshman has emerged as a likely starter at that position. Not as surprising, but Geoff Mogus is working at left guard and continues to excel.

— Fitzgerald didn't make any secrets to the obvious fact that Tyler Scott will start at one defensive end position. On the other side, Dean Lowry and Ifeadi Odenigbo could be locked in the starting battle. The two brought great size and athleticism. Both will be on the field, and should have a solid competition for the starting nod.

— Drew Smith brings a lot to the table at linebacker. He really seems to have a comfort for the position and meshes well with Damien Proby and Chi Chi Ariguzo.

— It was interesting to see Daniel Jones working both on the outside and inside at cornerback. The junior will certainly have a role in the defense, but the coaches seem to like his versatility.

— The play of the day was a weird one. Tailback Treyvon Green coughed up the football near the goal line. Out of nowhere came Kain Colter who scooped up the loose ball and snuck into the end zone. The play is never dead until the whistle blows.

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