April 2, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill. -- "Board Drill." It is as basic of a football drill as it gets. The drill involves two players, one on offense and one on defense, lining up head to head, with a flat 12-foot wooden board underneath them. One of the coaches gives a "go," and then it's on: first man to push the other to the end of the board wins. This is the essence of football and the first full-contact drill the NU coaches have their players participate in this spring.
Northwestern's gridders took part in their first workout in full pads Friday as both sides of the ball showed intense enthusiasm. After two practices of wearing jerseys, shorts and helmets, NU's players were ready to suit up and start hitting. Senior defensive tackle Colby Clark (Austin, Texas/Westlake), whose last experience with any kind of contact was last December in the Motor City Bowl, could not wait for his first hit back.
"Being in helmets and shorts was fun on Thursday," Clark said, "but it's not what football is all about. Being a contact sport, football is meant for hitting. That's what I love about it. I've been waiting for this day for the last three months. Every collision makes me want to play that much harder and better. It's the reason why I enjoy the game the way I do."
Junior offensive tackle Zach Strief ( Milford, Ohio/Milford) believes that once players get a grasp on the mental aspect of the game, the physical part is the most enjoyable.
"The great part of football is the physicality of it all," Strief said, "and that can't be used with just helmets, jerseys and shorts. Those are the mental days; the days where the older guys can be refreshed and the younger guys can be brought up to speed on the technical portion of the game. The older guys tend to have a better idea of their techniques and plays, so that leaves the contact to look forward to."
Practice Three Notes
Probably the most heated board drill battle took place between Colby Clark and Joe Wohlscheid (Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge). Both gave little or no ground until Clark prevailed, slowly driving Wohlscheid back toward his end of the board ... Derell Jenkins (Bolingbrook, Ill/Bolingbrook) continued his impressive defensive performance Friday. The quarterback-turned-running back-turned-safety intercepted a pass and took it 50 yards for a touchdown ... Noah Herron (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) showed his receiving skills by taking a Brett Basanez (Arlington Heights, Ill./St. Viator) pass and scampering 35 yards to the opposing end zone.