Random Thoughts on Spring Practice so far

Coach Roy's ruminations on reports coming from Evanston include the injury situation, who's gaining on the depth chart, and who is missed during <b>Northwestern's</b> annual <b>Spring workout </b>sessions.<br> <br> There hasn't been a lot of new info, but the are a lot of things happening on the practice fields...<br>

A couple of things I've picked up from the Spring Drills' reports and my personal observations...:
The Defensive Line:
It looks like the D-Line, with Barry Cofield and the rest of the younger players is doing about as well as last year. You know that D-Line Coach Eric Washington has to be glad about working out the new guys - the two inside guys; Cofield and Junior Trevor Schultz [6-2 285] have been able to work most of the drills, and the "other" D-Ends; projected starter David Ngene [6-3 270], Mark Koehn [6-3 260] and Kevin Mims [6-3 260] seem to be playing well.

Washington would like to have everyone available, but again this Spring it didn't happen.

Injuries on the Defense:
Would be a big problem if this happened in August, but right now it appears that several starters; Tim McGarigle, Loren Howard, Nick Roach, Jeff Backes, and Herschel Henderson are all wearing orange, no contact, jersies.

But they are all nursing injuries that wouldn't stop them from playing during the season, they're just not facing contact as a precaution. All the players named above are pretty well proven quantities. We may see some of them in the spring game.

Then there's the return of Marquice Cole at left Corner. He fast, agressive, and could be the spark that ignites the NU Pass Defense. I know D-Back Coach Jerry Brown is very glad to have him back in 2005.

What the injury situation has done is allow the coaches to play the subs a lot, and get film on their performance in game situations. Eddie Simpson, Campbell Black and Demetrius Eaton, along with Deante Battle and David Oredugba appear to be benefiting from the extra play.

Offensive Line:
We haven't heard "officially" if Zach Streif has shed his orange jersey, but the big guy in the spring practice picture sure looks like him. One winner this Spring has to be O-Line coach James Patton, who seems to have found the right mix up front, and for a change, even has been able to identify some decent reserves.

In the 79 play scrimmage, the four running backs collectively gained 109 yards on the ground. You don't do that without good O-Line play.

The Running Backs:
Terrell Jordan's annual hamstring pull has opened the door for the other running backs to make a move to be the guy.

Leading the pack appears to be frosh Brandon Roberson [5-9 195]. Roberson is the guy who ran behind Trevor Rees for two years in HS, and has the burst of speed to get through that inside hole on the zone play the Cats like to run.

Roberson talked a little this week about running in the NU offense - he seems to be a lot more comfortable with the Cat's zone running plays now.

The big surprise in camp is the play of Chris Malleo - the converted QB, who moved to H-Back and has given the Cats an additional weapon - a slot back who can block and catch the ball, in addition to his running skills. He can also air the ball out, adding the ability to run pass options also.

Also in the running back mix are Gerard Hamlett, and Akeem Hunter, as the running back corps solidifies their positions ahead of the arrival of two pretty good freshmen come August. The guy who's getting lost in all this is Nathan Shanks, who injured his ankle playing roundball over the spring break. He was slotted as #2, but surely has lost a lot of ground this Spring.

The Receivers:
Two names - Joe Ferguson and Frayne Abernathy are lighting up the scrimmages.

The other TE, Erryn Cobb [6-1 255] is a big force blocking from TE, but when I was watching, he seemed to have a little trouble catching the ball. When he does, he's a punishing runner, moving the ball up field, but first he's got to catch the ball.

Injuries to some starters, Mark Philmore and Jonathan Fields is keeping them off the field.

Kicking Game:
We haven't talked much about the kickers - Joel Howells seems to be the answer at place kicker - Ryan Pederson should be the punter.

That's my "Mid point of the Spring Drills" status report. I've had to rely on the reports from Julie at NU Sports and in sometimes the Daily for updates, but most of this is from my personal observations this Spring.

The Cats are going to close a lot of the practices now, I wouldn't expect a lot of "news" until April 23rd.
-- da Coach

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