Saturday, March 31, 2007

One down, three to go

Week One of Northwestern's four-week spring football session is done and, according to senior wide receiver T.J. Jones, the word of the spring is "competition."

There's competition at wide receiver (which could go a whopping 10 deep), superback/tight end (where sophomore Mark Woodsum and others are battling, even before NU's three freshmen show up for camp), offensive line, linebacker and nearly every other position.

"We're competing well," coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "And that's what spring ball is all about."

But, as usual in the spring, all that competition only adds up to ... more competition, once summer camp starts up in Kenosha, Wis.

So, according to Fitzgerald, NU likely won't lock down its starters until the week leading up to its Sept. 1 matchup with directional rival Northeastern.

Still, although no competitions have been settled, a few things emerged from the first week of practice.
  • Despite strong competition and a good attitude, Fitzgerald said he left the field feeling a little uneasy about NU's concentration. "We’ve got to really start to sharpen up our focus," he said. "The smallest attention to detail is the most important thing, and we’re just too sloppy. I’m just not happy with where that’s at right now, and that’s why you practice. You come back out, you get back to work at ’em. The key thing for me is, if our attitude’s in the right place, and we want to get better, we will. And that’s where I feel our guys are at right now."

  • Junior quarterback C.J. Bacher (toe) and junior safety Brendan Smith (shoulder) sat out all four practices. Fitzgerald said he expects Bacher to run soon and might be in drills as soon as late next week. Smith also is on schedule for a quick return, but Fitzgerald still said the safety won't participate in contact drills all spring.

  • Fitzgerald, on NU's Saturday board drill (which pits an offensive lineman against a defensive lineman): "That might be the best board drill we've had in a couple years."

--Patrick Dorsey

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