April 5, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Another winter-like morning greeted the Wildcats on Thursday as they conducted a full-pad, 18-period practice at their outdoor Field Turf facility.
In addition to several periods of 11-on-11 team work (offense vs. defense), the "Hamburger" drill was the highlight of the day. For the final five "bouts," head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced a best-of-five contest between offensive and defensive players.
With the two sides splitting their first four matches, the final bout came down to defensive tackle John Gill (Los Altos Hills, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep) vs. Joel Belding (Seville, Ohio/Seville). Gill notched his second win of the day, and thus a victory for the defense.
With quarterback C.J. Bachér (Sacramento, Calif./Jesuit) presently sidelined due to injury, Mike Kafka (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) and Joe Mauro (Bedford, Texas/L.D. Bell) have been sharing the reps under center. Kafka, who spoke with NUSports.com on Thursday, discussed the improvements he has made since last season, as well as the progress of the offensive line and the skill and speed of a developing wide receiving corps.
Click Here to watch the interview on NUSports.com All-Access.
To view the entire interview, you must be an All-Access subscriber. All-Access will have interviews with players and coaches throughout spring practice.
The Wildcats are conducting their 11 weekday practices at 7:25 a.m. this year. Northwestern's three Saturday practices begin at 9:15 a.m. with the Spring Game slated for a noon start on April 21.
Northwestern has a day off on Friday before returning Saturday morning for its first scrimmage of the spring. The Wildcats will start Saturday's 9:15 a.m. session with some special teams work before conducting a lengthy scrimmage.
One of Thursday's team highlights was a defensive interception. Linebacker Prince Kwateng (Munster, Ind./Munster) and safety Chaz Richart (North Vernon, Ind./Jennings County) both got their hands on the football, before it deflected eight feet away and was snared by cornerback Sherrick McManis (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods), who was laying on the ground on his back.
The Wildcats concluded Thursday's practice with a moment of silence for college football coaching legend Eddie Robinson, who died late Tuesday night. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald preceded the moment of silence with a short talk on the impact Robinson has had on college football. Fitzgerald called him the "Martin Luther King of college football..." The loss of Robinson was a personal one for defensive line coach Eric Washington, who played for Robinson at Grambling State.