I wouldn't have expected this heading into training camp. The quarterbacks demand attention. Four legit options are vying for attention, but each has something unique to prove. Kain Colter wants to set aside any external worries about his throwing ability with an excellent lead-up to Cal. Trevor Siemian could use to dominate and stare down full-fledged blitzes. Zack Oliver looks to make his case for a future role–even as late as 2015. Matt Alviti continues to build his reputation with gutsy camp outings. It's an exciting depth chart at QB, and we'll be checking out each candidate for some wildly different reasons.
2) Dean Lowry wins the defensive end spot.
This one's purely based on instinct, of course. Lowry and Deonte Gibson look fairly even in their competition for the spot, but one will attack Jared Goff on snap one in Berkeley. Lowry was widely praised for his ability to pick up the offense as a true freshman. An excellent message board post noted that Lowry also gained 35 pounds according to the updated weight listings (per NUSports). They won't suffer at defensive end regardless of who starts, but I'm taking Lowry in this battle.
3) The secondary dominates.
I'm sold on this secondary, loaded with some experience at corner and remarkable talent at safety. Daniel Jones and Nick VanHoose are ready to assert themselves as a dynamite tandem, with the Campbell/Henry one-two punch downright scary for opposing offenses. Let's be real: this was one serious area for concern two years ago. Now, NU has recruited well enough to make this an area of potential strength. Too soon? Maybe, but this marks another week for the group to stoke optimistic vibes.
4) Wide receivers make their last push.
I'm looking at you, Cameron Dickerson and Rashad Lawrence. Wide receiver might be the most difficult position to master during the first week of fall camp. They need to perfect those crisp routes, get in tune with several quarterbacks and haul in real-time passes against a real-time defense. The Wildcats boast some depth at the position, with guys like Mike Jensen and Kyle Prater searching for any opportunity to chip away at the starters' targets. It'll be exciting to watch them battle the much-improved crew of defensive backs.
5) O-line keeps its five and looks excellent.
Whichever coach made the decision to move forward with this O-line had something ideal in mind. They knew it. That starting group of Konopka, Mogus, Vitabile, Park and Jorgensen demonstrated solid chemistry from day one. There will undoubtedly be some semblance of growing pains. Still, NU fans have to like the positive returns from training camp.
Northwestern returns to practice on Tuesday afternoon. Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for more subscriber-exclusive practice notes and team stories.