Practice Notes: Gibson, White much improved

Some notes from Northwestern's Tuesday practice session.

Northwestern's offensive line protected the quarterbacks with more success on Tuesday. After giving up 12 sacks in the past two games, the group will have to regain its early season form. Of course, they're facing more than enough challenges on the practice field against an impressive defensive line.

— Dwight White had his best practice of the season, one could argue. White continues to build his confidence heading into the bulk of Big Ten play. Thrust into the starting role after Daniel Jones' injury, White struggled in September. But after solid pass breakups–and increased comfort covering the deep ball–I'm thinking he could grow into the quick, supremely talented player we envisioned.

— Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Nick VanHoose continued to labor through 2013. I'm not sure what happened to NU's best corner, but everything looked grim today. Scout team receiver Macan Wilson (solid in his own right) bested VanHoose on a jump ball, with the corner left visibly frustrated. The Wildcats need some improvement from him to bolster the secondary.

Deonte Gibson had an incredible pick-six late in practice, attempting to bat down a pass before grabbing hold of the football. He scampered in from about 15 yards out. Though he's often lost in the discussion of defensive ends (simply because Tyler Scott and Dean Lowry both earned significant attention), Gibson has been quite good in 2013.

— Here are some freshmen I'm watching closely: Jayme Taylor looks very comfortable at superback, as expected. Tommy Fuessel might be among the top three players in this entire class; Fitzgerald and his teammates evidently love the guy. Of course, Warren Long is learning with remarkable speed. He's the ideal NU recruit, working hard to meet his lofty potential.

— The receivers were much improved during drills, with Christian Jones looking especially sharp on routes down the middle. Trevor Siemian was good, but not as precise as usual. Mike Jensen ran some nifty crossing routes as well, as he looks to adopt an expanded role within this offense.

Kain Colter, Venric Mark and Sean McEvilly did not practice today. I'd be surprised if all three weren't on the field in some capacity tomorrow or Thursday.


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