Practice Notes: Onto Madison

Some notes from Tuesday's practice, which included strong outings from Trevor Siemian and Warren Long.

Northwestern was fairly sloppy on both sides of the ball today, with several starting and backup receivers dropping passes on all types of routes. The second-team defense didn't do much in the way of complicating things for the receivers, but there were plenty of cases when the receivers had enough time and space to make the catch, and simply mishandled the ball.

— That said, Trevor Siemian looked incredibly sharp, and had no trouble firing accurate passes to his receivers. He connected with Christian Jones quite frequently and found Dan Vitale for a touchdown catch in a red zone drill. He seems to be building on the success he had against Ohio State, which will be key to a Wildcat win in Wisconsin.

— Though he did have a couple of drops of his own, Christian Jones had an otherwise phenomenal day—making one nice snag in double coverage as he ranged toward the sideline. He was consistently open and ran quick, clean routes throughout practice.

— The first-team offense primarily focused on a Siemian-led passing attack. On a few red-zone carries, Mark looked as quick as ever, though it's hard to get a good read on how his hamstring is coming along on an unvaried sample of plays.

— The first-team defense went back and forth between solid and sloppy. Chi Chi Ariguzo had a nice pass breakup toward the sideline, which was preceded by the defense getting burned on an end-around by Warren Long. However, both front sevens did occasionally struggle containing rushes up the middle, as the running backs exploited the weak protection in the A and B gaps Steven Goldstein highlighted Monday.

— Again, the staff piped in game noise during the outdoor portion of practice, and then moved the entire team inside the Nicolet practice facility to do the same thing. Although the crowd noise was certainly distracting, it's hard to come close to replicating the conditions Northwestern will have to contend with at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.

— On that note, I asked Pat Fitzgerald after practice what kind of impact the crowd in Madison has on a player based on his experiences, and he was quick to praise the Badger faithful for the excitement they bring to the stadium. Fitzgerald also noted that although they could try to prepare for the crowd, there's nothing they'll be able to do to quiet them, which he attributed to Big Ten football as a whole.

— "You know, they say on TV, ‘They've got to take them out of the game. They've got to take the fans out of the game,' but you're not going to be able to do that," he explained.


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