Checking in with NU position groups

How is each Northwestern position group faring? And what do we need to see this week in practice?

Northwestern practice will open to the media once again on Tuesday afternoon. Before that, we give a brief summary of the developments within each position group.

Quarterbacks

Despite me wishing otherwise, the quarterback snap distribution will probably look similar in 2013. One question: Would Zack Oliver step into the two-quarterbacks system if Trevor Siemian were banged up? Reports flew out of Kenosha praising Oliver, and I'll keep an eye on him throughout the final week of training camp.

Running backs

We love Malin Jones so far. The redshirt freshman looks prepared for carries, at least by next season. With Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy in control of the RB depth chart, Jones could sneak in for some time—especially late in games. I'm still waiting to see how they employ Stephen Buckley out of the slot.

Offensive Line

Although WildcatReport.com retracted its comment that Pat Fitzgerald named his starting linemen, the point basically stands. Konopka, Mogus, Vitabile, Park and Jorgensen continue to monopolize first-team reps. Barring some late competition–perhaps from Matt Frazier–these five will begin the season as starters. I'm optimistic that they can make every adjustment necessary to succeed, and have been especially impressed with the young guards.

Wide Receivers

Aside from the four starters (who are fairly obvious), who can steal some targets? The RBs appear to be focused on working out of the short passing game, so that could be an option. I like Mike Jensen to see a reserved role. Of course, Cameron Dickerson could break out as a possession receiver.

Secondary

Nick VanHoose and Daniel Jones will almost certainly start at cornerback. The two demonstrated excellent rapport, and benefit from an exciting redshirt freshman backup in Dwight White. Of course, the safety position looks solid with Ibraheim Campbell and Traveon Henry. We'll watch Jimmy Hall closely this week. As one of the team's most versatile defensive players, it'll be interesting to see how Northwestern uses him.

Linebackers

The real story involves Collin Ellis and Drew Smith, both of whom are vying for the third starting linebacker spot. Fitzgerald said they bring different skillsets but similar optimism. I'd expect him to consistently rotate the two–especially early in the season–but this could be the most interesting storyline of the week.

Defensive Line

It looks like Chance Carter vs. Will Hampton for the second DT starting job. This might be the most important development: Can this team succeed on the defensive front? We're blown away by the depth and skill at defensive end, but need to see more between the bookends.


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