October 2011 Archives
* So. While looking at the tape of his team's romp over Indiana, did 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald see anything new and unexpected?
"Not really," he said. "We still won. Thank goodness."
* One person he did not see on that tape was Will linebacker Bryce McNaul, who is still his team's fourth-leading tackler despite missing the Hoosier game with back spasms. Another he did not see was defensive end Tyler Scott, who was emerging as his team's most-consistent defender before a neck stinger sidelined him the last two Saturdays. What he did see was a bunch of missed tackles and Indiana rolling up 319 net rushing yards.
* Earlier this week, while discussing the virtues he seeks while recruiting a linebacker, 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald said, "We're all looking for the modern-day Ray Lewis, guys that are mentally tough, physically tough, play with passion, have great football instincts, can understand and diagnose, guys who can run and are athletic.
"I'm not as sold on guys being the finished product in high school. I like guys who have growth potential. A guy who's 205, 210 is fine with me as long as they look like they have growth potential."
Quarterback Dan Persa practiced Wednesday and exhibited no signs of the turf toe injury he suffered last Saturday against Penn State. But when we asked if there were any after effects at all, he admitted, "Yeah, a little bit. But at this point of the season everybody's hurt, so you just got to gut it out."
Can he play without thinking about it?
* Quarterback Dan Persa has turf toe and, on Monday, was wearing a walking boot on his left (non-Achilles) foot. "It's one of those deals where you kind of sprain a joint in your toe," explained 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald. "We'll see how he responds as he goes through treatment. He feels much better today than he did yesterday, so we'll see how that progresses."
* At one point, when asked about Persa's availability for his team's game Saturday at Indiana, Fitzgerald said, "He'll be questionable for the game. I'll probably be able to let you know more on Thursday."
Last weekend, the B1G Mobile Tour came to Northwestern to showcase the new Stagg-Paterno Big Ten Championship Trophy and help spread the word about the conference's new Legends and Leaders division names. Kristin Scharkey served as our blogger for the Tour, finishing her experience with a final blog entry about what Honoring Legends, Building Leaders means to Northwestern student-athletes
. Read the entire entry and watch a video on the B1G Mobile Tour blog
featuring many of NU's most successful student-athletes as they share what competing in the B1G Conference means to them.
* The good news first. Early in the fourth quarter of the 'Cats' Saturday night meeting with Penn State, quarterback Dan Persa scrambled, was hog-tied by Nittany Lion 273-pound defensive end Jack Crawford and immediately grabbed his left foot (his torn Achilles was in his right). He then rose, took a few steps, fell to the ground and eventually limped off with the aid of two training staff members. He would not appear for the rest of the evening or at the postgame press conference, but wide receiver Jeremy Ebert would report, "He's in the locker room walking around. He seemed fine."
Photo Gallery - Video
Homecoming weekend is alive and well in Evanston and a very
important member of this weekend's festivities stopped by Lakeside Field during
today's practices. Seth Meyers, who is in town to serve as the Grand Marshal
for Friday's Homecoming Parade and Pep Rally, visited with the soccer teams and
did what he does best...made them laugh.
Meyers is best known for his work as head writer and
comedian for "Saturday Night Live" but he is also a close friend of women's soccer
head coach Stephanie Foster. Meyers and Foster, formerly Erickson, attended
Northwestern at the same time and developed a friendship while in school
Meyers met with both soccer teams briefly and stuck around
for photos before gearing up for tonight's Homecoming Parade. Check out the
photo gallery link above and the video link to see Meyers at the Northwestern
women's soccer practice.
There will be one, very special fan in the stands Saturday night at Ryan Field. There will also be one, very grateful 'Cat out on that field facing down Penn State. The first is Army Ranger Austin McNaul, who just a week ago landed back in the States after a year on the front lines in Afghanistan. The other is senior linebacker Bryce McNaul, who has not seen his older brother in well over a year.
"I'll be focused on the game," he will say, thinking of that evening. "But as soon as it's over, the final whistle blows, I'll be thinking of seeing my brother outside the locker room."
His name was Alexander Bodo and, a full quarter-of-a-century ago, he both lost his wife and was told that he himself had just five years to live. That was how severe his heart problems were, but never did he surrender to them. He instead battled them, battled them hard and survived multiple surgeries, and so here he was on the phone two Saturdays ago with his grandson, the 'Cat defensive end Tyler Scott.
* Quarterback Dan Persa showed up for the player portion of Monday's weekly presser with a haircut the toughest of Marine sergeants would proudly style. "I don't know. I had head lice, so," he said when asked about his new look. "No. Just kidding. I don't know. Woke up on Sunday, felt like shaving it, so I shaved it."
* That haircut could well be a metaphor for Persa, who is still not the same performer he was before he tore up his Achilles last season...
Interviews with John Shurna and Davide Curletti
contest this year.
Dogg nor Kid Cudi.
p.m. rolled around Friday evening, it was time to get down to business for the
Northwestern men's basketball team.
relegated to training at SPAC due the volleyball match at Welsh-Ryan Arena, the
venue was inconsequential. The rims were still 10 feet high and the free throw
line was still 15 feet from the hoop. Basketball was back.
team has technically been able to practice together with the coaching staff for
the past month, the first official day of the college basketball season has a
different feel to it. Instead of only being able to work together on the court
for two hours a week, teams can now get down to business for approximately
three hours a day.
of a new season is similar to a television spinoff. Familiar characters who you've
grown to know and enjoy are back, while other new cast members have joined the
fold. Players have graduated and newcomers enter the fray looking to
contribute. The returners have honed their craft in the offseason as they
attempt to expand their contributions from the campaign prior. Every team has a
clean slate. Everyone's record is 0-0.
the day at the annual Chicago College Basketball Luncheon, Howard Moore, the head
coach at UIC, compared the first day of practice to opening a Christmas
present. Coaches get to unwrap this "gift" where they're finally able to get
down to work with their players.
Wildcats start their season anew on the heels of three straight postseason
appearances and back-to-back school-record 20-win seasons. However, the
previously unattainable goal is still out there. Everyone knows it, and the question persists for all those in
and around the program: "Is this the year?" It's the elephant in the room.
really focused," senior Davide Curletti said. "We all want to get that NCAA
tournament bid. Everybody's talking about it. (For the seniors) this is our
last year. Our freshman year, we did great. Our sophomore year we did better
and our junior year we did even better. Now we're just trying to finish this
it's time for guys to get used to each other. Now that we're starting practice
tonight, it's going to be time where we're really going to have to sit down and
start honing in on all aspects of our game."
Here's to a
season of good health and a dream realized. Only 24 days until the exhibition
Notes: Special guests at Friday's practice
included Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and assistant coach Ed Pinckney.
Northwestern assistant Fred Hill served alongside Pinckney as an assistant
coach at Villanova from 2003-05 ... The Wildcats went through their annual media
training session Thursday night with The Speaking Specialists. Special thanks
to Sue Castorino and Randy Minkoff for taking time out to work with both the
Northwestern men's and women's teams ... The players got a first glimpse at their
new uniforms Thursday evening. The new unis are tentatively planned to be
unveiled to the public at the Fast Break Club Tip-off Dinner next Thursday,
Oct. 20 at the Hilton Orrington in Evanston. To register or for more
information, please visit NUsports.com.
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held its 14th annual Field
Day Friday on the Wildcats' FieldTurf practice field, welcoming nearly 150 area
kids to meet and interact with some of their favorite NU student-athletes.
* It appears that junior Demetrius Dugar will be one of the starting 'Cat corners Saturday night when they face Iowa at Kinnick Stadium Pat Fitzgerald, as is his custom, would not comment on possible personnel moves. But it was Dugar who worked with the first defensive unit in practice this week and not senior Jeravin Matthews, who started this season's first five games.
'Cats fans! This week I got to sit down with Assistant Director of Sports
Jorgensen, the newest addition to our sports
performance team and Northwestern Softball's personal coach! We've
already had three great weeks of work with Tyler and are looking forward to
what we will accomplish with him over the next year!
He was everywhere last Saturday when the 'Cats faced Michigan. He was there as a spy linebacker charged with containing wily Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson. Then he was there as the running back who added some hops to their rushing attack and gained 28 yards on six carries. Finally, as always, he was there returning both punts and kickoffs, those chores he can make so electrifying.
Welcome back, Venric Mark.
Early Monday afternoon, with the 'Cats in the throes of a three-game losing streak, the defensive tackle Jack DiNardo was asked what they were focusing on to snap out of their funk. "Just having that short mind set, to just get rid of the bad taste in our mouth," he said. "We watched the film. We realize we're doing some things really well. We need to continue doing those things and, obviously, we need to improve in other areas.
"But the key for us" -- and here was the key part of his answer -- "is just to not forget that we have good players on this team, that we have good coaches and that we just need to play to our potential...
'Cat coaches traditionally hand out eight awards after each week's game. But after their Saturday night loss to Michigan, they cut that number to seven. There was here, for the first time this season, no Defensive Player of the Game. "As we talked," Pat Fitzgerald would explain, "we didn't have anybody play consistently enough for four quarters. Tyler Scott (the defensive end) played really well for three-and-a-half quarters. Really well. Maybe as well as anyone's played on defense this year. But for half-a-quarter he didn't and that's kind of indicative of the way we're playing on defense. We've got to put together a full 60 minutes."
* The numbers are as stark and as striking as a left hook to the jaw. In the third quarter Michigan had the ball for 12:28 and the 'Cats, for 2:32. In that same quarter Michigan rolled up 205 yards of total offense and the 'Cats, just 17. In the second half Michigan had the ball for 20:59 and the 'Cats, for 9:01 (with 2:19 of those coming on their last, meaningless drive). In that same half, Michigan rolled up 273 yards of total offense and the 'Cats, 141 (with 79 of those coming on that same final drive). "I feel it's the same story every game," the versatile Kain Colter would say after the 'Cats fell to Michigan by 18. "We're up in the first half and somehow we just lose it. . . It's tough. It seems we go in at halftime and come out and something happens to us."
They are known familiarly as explosion plays and, just like a truck full of TNT, they can dramatically alter the landscape. They can swing momentum, they can turn the tide, they can inflate an offense that had been sterile and struggling and spay a defense that had been so staunch and steadfast. They can, quite simply, determine the outcome of a game, which is exactly what happened last Saturday in the showdown between the 'Cats and Illinois. "For 95 percent of the game they played well," is what Pat Fitzgerald would say of his defense, recognizing this fact. "The five percent that they didn't cost us the football game..."
Wednesday, Oct. 5, Northwestern student-athletes participated in International
Walk to School Day, an event for middle and elementary school students around
the world designed to encourage physical activity and combat childhood obesity.
Northwestern's women's fencing team gathered on street corners around Dewey
Elementary School early this morning to cheer on students taking part in the
event by walking or riding their bicycles to school.
was great!" said Alicia Gurrieri, a junior fencer from Medford, N.J. "It was
exciting to see kids who were enthusiastic to be going to school on such a
beautiful day outside. We cheered them on and I really hope the kids enjoyed
event, started in 1997, was spurred on by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's
Move! Campaign, an initiative designed to increase physical activity and
encourage parents to make healthy choices. According to a press release from
the city, Evanston students joined 2,233 other schools in the country and 42
other countries around the world in the effort to promote fitness.
kids proudly held handmade signs, counted their steps to school, followed safe
walking routes designated by the school district, and raced school buses on
their final blocks to school," said Event Coordinator Stephanie Fine in an
email. "One ambitious kindergartener even dressed up in his very own Dewey
tiger costume! Upon arrival at school, students were surprised with tiger paw
stickers and Northwestern pencils, both sure to keep the walking topic top of
mind for some time."
Walk To School Day also serves to raise awareness of schools' safe walking
routes and environmental benefits due to reduced car trips. During drop-off and
pick-up hours, area traffic in Evanston and Skokie increases by an estimated 25
percent, according to the City of Evanston's news release.
this global effort to decrease the environmental footprint while improving
health and wellness, Dewey students joined children and families worldwide to
show the power of unified efforts to improve world and personal health. This
has been a topic at the school from some weeks leading up to the event, with
teachers and families accessing ideas and resources via walktoschool.org and
making up their own fun activities," said Fine.
an email to parents and students, Superintendent of Schools Hardy Murphy echoed
year, District 65 has joined with many community partners to collaborate on a
variety of initiatives seeking to promote health and wellness in our schools. As
the global community continues to get smaller, a gesture like walking to school
when executed by thousands of children across the world can have a universal
It has been a crazy past two weeks of field hockey for the 'Cats! After losing to Indiana for our first Big Ten match of the season, we beat then #7 UNH two days later--giving me family bragging rights because my sister starts for them. This past weekend, we defeated Michigan State in the pouring rain 3-0 and then drove to Penn State. After coming back from being down 2 goals at halftime, we lost in a heartbreaking overtime. We hope to see Penn State and Indiana again in the Big Ten Tournament!
He was an eighth-grade running back at Coyle Middle School in Garland, Texas, when he received the tape from his oldest brother Eric. It starred the late, great Bear Walter Payton, whom he immediately adopted as a model. "He was just a hard-nosed runner. He was always north and south," 'Cat true freshman Treyvon Green says when asked the reason for that. "I wouldn't say he's a normal running back. He stiff-arms. But then again he has a little skip move he does. I'm trying to master that move right now. Hopefully, I'll get to that."
And did he try to master that move back then?
"Actually, I did," he says with a smile.
* Quarterback Dan Persa, who sat out the last seven minutes of the 'Cats Saturday loss at Illinois, was not available on Monday. But, reported Pat Fitzgerald at his weekly presser, "(He) worked out today and was great. So we expect him to be great on Saturday."
* When asked about the uncertainty surrounding Persa's health, the coach said: "The only question about his health is from you, you the media. He's great, he's ready to go..."