Practice Notes: Speed Kills

Steven Goldstein offers Northwestern practice notes from Tuesday night in this Premium update.

— Fitz expressed concern about the heat wave that's hit Evanston the past few days, and said that he's excited for game day in Berkeley to be considerably cooler. Temperatures broached 90 degrees at Lakeside Field Tuesday night.

Northwestern workshopped kick returners to go alongside Venric Mark early in practice, with Matt Harris and Stephen Buckley standing out on special teams drills. Fitz mentioned that although Mark is clearly the best option on returns, he will not be the lone guy deep all season. Tony Jones fielded kickoffs as well.

— The offense worked with a five-wide spread for much of the session, and the first portion of practice was devoted to tweaking the passing game. Wideouts worked on beating press coverage by pushing past coaches at the line, and also focused on footwork drills. Rashad Lawrence and Cermak Bland looked particularly good at getting separation.

-- Trevor Siemian excelled in 7-on-7s, hitting Dan Vitale on a perfectly timed corner route for a touchdown and later striking Lawrence on a deep post past the safeties. Both throws ran a little high, and Siemian later overthrew two consecutive passes, but it was an encouraging outing nonetheless.

-- Venric Mark sat out much of practice, with Stephen Buckley working with Colter on the read-option. Buckley's quick step up the middle really helped sell plays, and he continues to impress with his speed.

-- Kain Colter was best when working with play action and rollouts; the senior worked relatively little on the ground.

-- Chi Chi Ariguzo praised Collin Ellis' hustle, noting that the entire linebacking unit fared well Tuesday. Though Cal's "Bear Raid" system should make for a pass-heavy gameplan Saturday, Ariguzo said that the linebackers are working on staying disciplined and holding their position.

-- Matt Alviti had a few nice connections on an in route drill with Tommy Fuessel. The true freshman class continues to impress for the scout team.

-- Nick VanHoose laughed as he said how he "hated" using outdated game film to prepare for Cal's new system with Sonny Dykes. The corner added that a lot of the prep for the Golden Bears comes from film from Louisiana Tech, Dykes' former team, and Cal's spring game.

-- Despite a competitive practice, many Wildcats were getting loose on the sidelines. Lawrence and Kyle Prater busted out dances, while Colter and Cameron Dickerson debated the lyrics of the hip-hop blaring through the speakers. You can feel the anticipation for Saturday.

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