Practice Notes: Finding Zeke

Notes from practice on the wideouts, tailbacks, secondary and the search for the next Zeke Markshausen.

— Nothing’s more impressive than the secondary play of this summer. Today, you couldn’t blame the offense. The corners looked focused, with Matthew Harris, Nick VanHoose and Dwight White all putting forth good efforts in the Wednesday afternoon session. Harris had two picks and a tip in the final stretch of practice, with VanHoose adding another interception to close out. Meanwhile, the safeties were predictably good. Ibraheim Campbell dominated each of the last two practices and had an interception as well. The key note from this week: The defense has been noticeably better than the offense, which could be interesting to observe as the ‘Cats scheme moving forward.

Pat Fitzgerald cited Zeke Markshausen after practice when referring to potential breakout wide receiver. Markshausen entered his senior year with one catch and added 91 on the year. With Christian Jones out — and Tony Jones the only standout on the roster — the Wildcats are looking for greater contributions. There are plenty of options. In Jones’s absence, Miles Shuler took on an added role and made several plays during practice. Cam Dickerson has also been sharp and caught several longer passes. Kyle Prater might be one of the more consistent players this fall, as he tries to overcome health problems and make an impact.

— One other noticeable theme from Wednesday’s practice: the running back depth chart looks so even. Obviously, Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault enter a little bit behind, but they both received significant touches. Warren Long, somehow still a quieter name, lumbered down the field on multiple carries and looks even more comfortable in the offense. It was obvious that Treyvon Green will enter the season taking No. 1 carries, but if he struggles, there are plenty of options behind him. It’s not the same offense without Venric Mark, and not even close, but you can still call running back depth among the major strengths of this team as they move forward.

— Other: Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern began to prepare for specifics heading into the Cal game. // Clayton Thorson finally looked the part of a freshman near the end of practice, throwing into double coverage. // Deonte Gibson made some nice plays, with Xavier Washington clearly the major surprise from this camp season. // Justin Jackson spoke to after practice about the importance of representing in-state recruits. // Pierre Youngblood-Ary was excellent this fall, showing better hands than in years before. // The deep sleeper standout was Austin Carr, who caught multiple passes in each of the past two sessions.

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