Practice Notes: Kuhar Emerging

Steven Goldstein with the latest from Northwestern spring practice.

- The Wildcats continue to play with one linebacker pressed at the line of scrimmage. While that role has been Jimmy Hall's for most of spring, Drew Smith looked good in it Tuesday. Expect the defense to make up for its lack of size with more aggressive looks on the edge.

- Traveon Henry has enjoyed a very strong start to the year, snagging another athletic interception in practice Tuesda. Henry's been sideline to sideline all spring, and will keep holding down center field as Ibraheim Campbell sits out with a broken jaw.

- Kyle Prater looked good this session, too. He split Keith Watkins and Jarrell Williams on a nice seam route, then burned Watkins on a streak two plays later.

- The defense worked on stripping ballcarriers throughout practice. Northwestern forced just four fumbles all of last season, and generating turnovers has been an immediate focus for the front seven. Coaches shouted "get it out of there!" all morning.

- With only six healthy defensive linemen, Eric Joraskie and Greg Kuhar continue to see reps. Joraskie's looked good alongside Dean Lowry at end, while Kuhar's been an encouraging force in the middle. "Greg is coming into his own," Pat Fitzgerald told me after practice. "I've been very pleased with him. I fully expect him to be, at a minimum, a rotation guy next fall."

- The offense is still stressing screens, swing passes and short routes, a good look for a unit that struggled to find confidence in the deep ball after Ohio State. But Warren Long saw a healthy load of carries, too. The highlight of practice came when the offensive line bowled over the front seven at the goal line, giving Long an easy touchdown dive.

- Matthew Harris shut down Tony Jones during scrimmage time. He and Nick VanHoose have both made improvements since the start of spring.

- Godwin Igwebuike is seeing his playing time increase with every practice. The safety was seen covering the second level Tuesday, and with Campbell out for the foreseeable future, Igwebuike has a real chance to prove himself.

- Saturday will be NU's last session before finals week and spring break. Though closed to the media, the practice will be "a very important one," according to Fitzgerald. The team will be back in full pads.


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