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    'Cats Practice Without Pads

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Senior Zach Strief is excited about the athletic talent of the offensive line.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Senior Zach Strief is excited about the athletic talent of the offensive line.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    April 15, 2005

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior offensive lineman Zach Strief (Milford, Ohio/Milford) and the Wildcats participated in a shortened practice Friday in preparation for Saturday's practice -- the last scrimmage before the Spring Game on April 23. NUsports talked with Strief about the offensive line.

    NUsports.com: Your unit graduated three of its five starters this past season. How is the rebuilding going for the line this spring?
    Strief: It is going well. The younger guys are getting a lot of reps, which they need. There has been a lot of development over the past few weeks, as well as a lot of improvement. It has been good to get them out there and get some experience.

    NUsports.com: What will your biggest role be this year with a younger offensive line?
    Strief: There are a lot of mental and physical things that go into a season that a lot of people don't realize. In terms of technique and plays, that is the coaches' job. My job will be taking a leadership role and helping get the team through the season.

    NUsports.com: You and Dylan Thiry, the projected starter at the other tackle position, stand 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8. How many offensive lines can boast that kind of height?
    Strief: No one I can think of. It helps to have a big wingspan, and to be wide. But as far as another team, there aren't that many who are as tall as we are.

    NUsports.com: What has impressed you the most about Northwestern's offense this spring?
    Strief: I think we are a lot more diverse. The tight ends and backs have come a long way, and those are not positions we have utilized in the past. They give the offense a new dimension. Last year, the offensive line was big, strong, and we did a lot of running at people. This year, we are more athletic and more versatile, which gives us more options. We can be deceiving, and use some of the tactics we did back in 2000. We can spread them out, and use option plays.

    NUsports.com: What aspect of your game are you working on improving the most this off-season?
    Strief: I'm looking to refine a lot of fundamental things, work on some bad habits I have picked up, and make sure I do little things correctly, like taking the first step, and getting my hands on people. Things that worked in the past won't work against the more experienced people anymore.

    PRACTICE NOTES: Friday's practice went 12 periods in preparation for Saturday's scrimmage ... Saturday's practice will begin at 10 a.m. on the north practice field. At the midway point of practice, the team will take a break before moving to Ryan Field for the remainder of the scrimmage ... Practices Tuesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 21 are closed to the media.