NUSPORTSDOTCOM

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

Official Store

    BLOG: Friday Quick-Hitters

    | No Comments | No TrackBacks
    He has been anticipating his team's Saturday season opener at Boston College from that moment the clock ran out in the Cotton Bowl and its TicketCity Bowl loss to Texas Tech was official. That is no exaggeration, not when we're talking about hyperactive 'Cat safety Brian Peters.

    He abhorred that loss, abhorred too the way he and all the 'Cats staggered to last season's finish line, and ever since then has labored diligently, labored determinedly, labored dauntlessly with just two goals in his sights. To maximize his abilities and to make this year, his senior year, memorable. "It's consistently working hard, consistently improving, and bringing guys with you when you do it," he will say when asked how he went about his business the last eight months.

    "We had groups of people at times do extra work, do extra footwork, do extra workouts on top of the workouts we already do. We had guys at the beach on Saturday mornings doing footwork and stuff in the sand. We had guys in the film room. We crossed. We had offensive guys, defensive guys watching film together, me getting the quarterback's perspective and then Dan (Persa) asking me questions. It showed it was important to everybody. That was the biggest thing. We all came together in the off-season while going the extra mile, not just showing up, punching the card and leaving.

    CROSS REFERENCES:
    Peters and any number of his defensive mates not only mined the mind Persa. They also watched film with and benefitted from insights provided by wide receivers Jeremy Ebert and Demetrius Fields. "When they're attacking the shade, what they're trying to do. When they're working off the Sam (linebacker), what they're trying to do," Peters would say when asked just what kind of insight that pair provided. "That (provides) quicker reads and quicker reactions and cues."

    Has he found any benefit from that?

    "We noticed it right away in the summer, seven-on-seven."

    UNDER THE RADAR:
    Publicity does not gush down on senior corner Jordan Mabin, but last season he was an Honorable Mention all Big Ten selection and this season is one of his team's four captains. "He's had a really good off-season," 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald says of him. "He's worked diligently. He understands the areas he needs to improve. And I know he's excited for this season. To be elected captain shows him, I think, how much his teammates respect him."

    Where's he need to improve?

    "Some things I'm going to keep between him and I. But the obvious one, take those PBUs (passes broken up) and make them interceptions. (He had a conference-best 15 PBUs last season, but just one interception.) Gosh. He's got an All Big Ten, All American type of year a year ago if those things become interceptions. So that's going to be critically important."

    LOOKIN' AHEAD:
    At least some of the 'Cats watched their first film on BC way back in February and then, after spending the spring concentrating on themselves, they watched the Eagles some more during the summer. "Wisconsin. Iowa," Mabin says when asked which Big Ten team they resemble. "Big offensive line, physical, want to run the ball first. They actually remind me of a lot of Big Ten teams just being physical. And they got some good receivers too, very physical receivers who like to block. So it's going to be a fun game. We're going to have to be on our Ps and Qs. We're going to have to come ready to hit. But that's every game."

    MIA:
    BC running back Montel Harris led the ACC in rushing last season and was tabbed the conference's preseason Player of the Year. But he is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery. His top backup, Andre Williams, suffered an ankle injury during a scrimmage two weeks ago. But asked recently if he was 100 percent, he chuckled and said, "I'm going to play like I am."

    "We saw Williams a year ago play in the last few games of the season and their identity stayed pretty consistent," Fitzgerald says of him. "Very physical back, can also bounce it to the edge and take it the distance. . . So they do what they do. Then they play very physical and sound on defense."

    FOR THE DEFENSE:
    That Eagle defense features 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker Luke Kuechly, an All American and Butkus Award finalist who led the nation last year in tackles while averaging 14.1-per-game. "We recruited Luke from St. X(avier High School in Cincinnati," Fitzgerald says of Kuechly, who made an unofficial visit to Evanston. "Fast. Physical. Really, I think, football intelligent. He takes great angles. He understands plays. He's got a great knack for the football. Reading (BC) Coach (Frank) Spaz's (Spaziani) comments, he's coached a lot of great defensive players. To hear the praise he gives him, and he's not a guy who gives a lot of praise out, that tells you everything you need to know."

    SPEAKING OF DEFENSE:
    Not only did the Eagles lead the nation last year in defense against the run, allowing a mere 82.77 yards per game. Over the last six years--a span of 79 games--it is second nationally against the run, allowing just 91.7 yards per game. "Like I've been saying throughout camp, the run game has been something we needed to improve from last year," 'Cat tackle Al Netter says when those facts are relayed to him. "I think we've made great strides throughout camp and I think we have a great plan in place for Boston College. We know they're a physical team. We know they have a lot of great players on their defense. But we're ready to get after them."

    QUICKLY NOTED:
    Neither Fitzgerald nor BC's Spaziani has lost a season opener in his head coaching career. So something gives Saturday. . . At a team meeting earlier this week, Spaziani played the music video of country star Kenny Chesney's The Boys of Fall, which chronicles the emotions involved in football. Then Chesney, in the area for concerts at Gillette Stadium, appeared on stage and spoke to the Eagles. . . BC has been to 11 straight bowl games. . . The Eagles are guided by 6-foot-3, 212-pound sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig, who started nine games last season as a freshman. But his offensive line is rebuilt and still in flux. . . As for 'Cats defensive line, says Fitzgerald, "It's going to be a wave. It's not going to be four guys who play the whole year. We'd like to roll eight to 10 guys if we could. Keep them fresh and get them playing fast and physical."

    AND FINALLY:
    BC QB Rettig, on Saturday's game: "Coach Spaz and the rest of the coaches say the first ones the hardest just because there's so much of a buildup. It's important to the team's morale going into the rest of the season. So I think it's vital, it's a big game. Hope we can go out and execute and do what we've been doing in practice. It's a big game."

    No TrackBacks

    TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/23438

    Leave a comment