Practice Notes: Buckley excels, O-line sloppy

"Buckley excelled the most on a few option runs and gave the second-team defense a difficult time."

— Neither Kain Colter nor Venric Mark practiced for Northwestern on Wednesday, still tending to injuries that kept them out of most of Saturday's loss to Wisconsin. Trevor Siemian was active, but both Zack Oliver and Matt Alviti took a fair amount of snaps with the first-team offense.

— While Siemian continued his excellent track record in practice, both Alviti and Oliver made several impressive passes in tight coverage and made very few errors. That said, "very few" isn't none at all, and Ibraheim Campbell was able to troll Alviti a little bit. He picked off the freshman once and almost grabbed another after tipping up a questionable sideline throw.

— Playing into the team motto of "everybody eats," it seemed like every eligible receiver had at least once catch in practice Wednesday. Team favorite Mike Jensen had one particularly nice grab over the middle, and Pierre Youngblood-Ary was making catches all over the place.

— In the backfield, Stephen Buckley took the most snaps for the first-team offense, and looked solid throughout practice. He excelled the most on a few option runs and gave the second-team defense a difficult time in containing him on the outside. Buckley even made a great grab along the sideline out of the backfield, as Siemian found him deep and wide open. Look for him to make a big impact this Saturday against Minnesota.

— Coaches turned up the pressure on the offensive line early in practice with a series of blitzes, but the unit struggled to maintain protection and didn't give the running backs much in the way of holes. There were some moments that the line looked to be in sync, but it was a mediocre day.

— Conversely, the defensive line did a great job of applying pressure to the quarterbacks, forcing Siemian, Oliver and Alviti to do a fair share of (effective) scrambling. The group was also able to plug up the middle effectively. The line struggled to contain outside runs–a constant problem for the unit this season–but had some early success on several option runs.

— If there's any malaise still lingering from Saturday's drubbing in Madison, it certainly wasn't visible at practice. The players praised and jawed at one another all throughout the blustery morning, and Rashad Lawrence, Tony Jones, Kyle Prater and Colter even put on a choreographed routine to Too $hort's "Blow the Whistle" on the sidelines.


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