Practice Notes: D-line shuffles

On Matt Harris, Chi Chi Ariguzo, Cameron Dickerson and the DL shuffling...

• Another strong day for the wideouts, who first worked individually on a fade route drill before scrimmage. Though the Cats have rarely used their receivers on straight fades, they'll have a considerable height advantage Saturday: none of Maine's active defensive backs stand taller than 6-1.

• Pierre Youngblood-Ary and Cameron Dickerson each came down with huge receptions Wednesday. Dickerson torched redshirt freshman Troy Shephard and ecstatically sprinted another 40 yards downfield to complete the touchdown, while Youngblood-Ary worked Dwight White down the left sideline.

Dan Vitale continues to be used in a lot of pre-snap motion at the line. It's paying off: Vitale had another active practice and looks to be a serious mismatch for an undersized Maine team this weekend.

Chi Chi Ariguzo was seen playing deeper downfield than usual Wednesday, defending Xavier Menifeld on wheel routes. Although Ariguzo has performed admirably as the weakside linebacker, he doesn't have much experience in deep coverage. It should be interesting to watch as Northwestern gets ready for Big Ten teams with faster running backs and tight ends.

• Once again, the defensive line was constantly shuffling. The most common rotation had Tyler Scott and Dean Lowry as the ends, with Chance Carter and Will Hampton playing inside, but the Wildcats also used an interesting, bigger front of Deonte Gibson, Max Chapman, C.J. Robbins and Sean McEvilly. Davion Fleming and Drew Smith also saw some first team reps on defense.

• A great practice for Matthew Harris, who Pat Fitzgerald raved about after drills. Harris has surprisingly good recovery time for a true freshman, and compensates for a lack of size with physicality on the edge. He spent time shutting down Rashad Lawrence and Tony Jones. Fitz said Monday that Harris will be brought along similarly to the way Dan Vitale was last year.

• The offensive line looked sharp as well; though Northwestern hasn't practiced many running sets this week, the pocket has been pretty clean.

• Another day of work for Tim Hanrahan. Though not as involved as yesterday, Hanrahan was split wide for a few plays with the first team offense.

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