Northwestern Practice Notes: 11/19

Corners excelled and the offense struggled during Tuesday's practice.

Keith Watkins continued his ascent. The freshman cornerback has improved throughout his redshirt season — and now showcases excellent hands on a regular basis. He and Godwin Igwebuike intercepted Trevor Siemian during drills today, part of an overall solid performance from the Northwestern secondary.

Deonte Gibson controlled the line of scrimmage on Tuesday, bursting past an overmatched offensive line and reaching the quarterback on several occasions. He's been an underappreciated component of a much-improved defense. Also on the defensive line, C.J. Robbins and Greg Kuhar played well.

— The offense was at its worst this morning, struggling to move the ball. There were tipped passes, interceptions, blocking breakdowns and even increased concern for an offense that needs to prepare for, gasp, Michigan State. Trevor Siemian was sloppy in the morning session.

— The linebackers – aside from one instance of over-pursuit – were generally excellent this morning. Collin Ellis looked confident in coverage, with really the entire group making significant contributions. It'll be essential if the Wildcats hope to make enough plays and slow the Spartans offense.

— Matt Alviti had one of his good days. The freshman phenom made everyone realize his potential, rolling right before finding Jordan Perkins on a 20-yard post near the end of today's session. He'll certainly be an active competitor in what should be an interesting quarterback battle before next year.

— The wide receivers made some drops, but Christian Jones looked solid again. They're set on continuing to establish his presence down the middle of the field. The junior could end up with 50 catches on the season with a strong final two games — three, if he's lucky.

— I'll say it again: The offense needs to be much, much better if it wants to move the ball in any way against Michigan State. They played shutout-esque, sloppy football on Tuesday morning, and that'll have to change at some point this week.

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