Practice Notes: Harris, front seven on point

Matt Harris, the front seven and Kain Colter stood out at Wednesday's practice, writes Sylvan Lane.

— Cornerback Matt Harris is thriving in his first full week as a starter. He consistently kept his receivers under tight coverage and even broke up a few passes with some well-placed hits. While he did get thrown off on a couple of routes over the middle, Harris is absolutely owning this new role, playing even better than he did as Dwight White's backup.

— Although it wasn't tested too much Wednesday, the starting offensive line was strong relative to the play we've seen from both games and practices. Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian were given ample time to get rid of the ball – a major problem for the line thus far – and the unit looked cohesive on the many option runs the starting offense ran through. One important note: The offensive line barely faced any blitzes, which have been decimating the line thus far.

— Colter looked to be in peak form Wednesday, moving the ball both with his arm and feet. Taking advantage of the space Rashad Lawrence, Cameron Dickerson and Christian Jones were creating with ease, 1-a replicated the some of the success he had against Iowa.

— On the other hand, Siemian continued his struggle to maintain consistency in any form. While he did show some flashes of the excellence he displayed at Cal and against Syracuse, he was off his game with a slew of mistimed and misaimed passes. In scrimmage, he stared down Dan Vitale on a sideline curl route, which Godwin Igwebuike jumped and ended with an interception.

— The first-team defense spent most of practice preparing for Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, who's been hampered with turf toe and most recently a hip pointer. Northwestern used Miles Shuler to replicate the play of Martinez and his backups—who share similar quarterbacking styles. The front seven was tasked with containing Shuler on a series of naked bootlegs and option runs, and did an excellent job.

— Speaking of the starting front seven, the entire unit was on point Wednesday, turning up the pressure on quarterbacks while also keeping their targets under tight coverage. On one play when both corners and outside linebackers were in zone coverage, Chi Chi Ariguzo picked up Matt Harris' man seamlessly and picked off a pass from Christian Salem. Although the defense outside of corner play hasn't been an issue for Northwestern, it's still encouraging to see players working so cohesively with each other.

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