April 19, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern held its second scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning, running nearly 100 offensive plays on Ryan Field. The scrimmage was run-heavy, as approximately 60 of the 96 plays were scripted as rushing plays.
With running backs Omar Conteh (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair) and Stephen Simmons (St. Louis, Mo./SLUH) sidelined with injuries, Tyrell Sutton (Akron, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) and Scott Concannon (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge) handled a big chunk of Saturday's running, along with backup quarterback Mike Kafka (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita).
Kafka led all rushers with 71 yards (on 14 carries), while Concannon totaled 60 yards (17 carries) and Sutton had 56 (18 carries). Redshirt freshman quarterback Dan Persa (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) also added 10 carries for 26 yards.
"We want to improve our running game, and today's scrimmage was designed with that in mind," said NU coach Pat Fitzgerald. "The great thing about spring practice is you can get excited about one side and then upset with the other. Defensively, we didn't give up any big plays today. Offensively, we're moving the football pretty well as long as we're not hurting ourselves with mental mistakes, which we did too many times today.
"We're putting a lot on this football team this spring and I like the way our guys are handling it. Our attitude is in the right spot and we're working on the right things. Now we've got one more critical week to take another big step forward."
In the passing game, Ross Lane
(Ft. Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot) led all receivers with four catches for 49 yards. Quarterback C.J. Bachér
(Sacramento, Calif./Jesuit) completed a team-best 10-of-12 passes for 83 yards.
The special teams highlight of the day was a blocked field goal that was returned for a TD. Redshirt freshman Mike Bolden (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) blocked Kyle Daley's 42-yard attempt before linebacker Mike Dinard (Parma, Ohio/Padua Franciscan) picked up the ball and ran 65 yards for the score. Outside of the blocked kick, Daley converted 2-of-3 field goals (made 37 and 25, missed 42) and all three of his PAT kicks.
NU's offense scored three touchdowns, all of them on the ground. Persa scored two of them, including an elusive 10-yard run. Persa appeared to be stop by a host of tacklers, but he popped out of the pile and scampered into the end zone for NU's first six points of the scrimmage.
Sutton scored the Wildcats' other TD, a 4-yard run.
One of Northwestern's defensive highlights was an interception by redshirt freshman safety Brian Peters (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington), who did a nice job stealing the ball away from the receiver. NU's defense stopped six (of 13) offensive possessions on the day.
As its young core of superbacks emerges, Northwestern hopes to further incorporate the multi-faceted group into the offense. Two of the fullback-tight end hybrid Wildcats, Drake Dunsmore and Josh Rooks, saw playing time last year as true freshman. Both of them chatted with NUsports.com after the second spring scrimmage to discuss exactly what the "superback" position means to them and their increased roles this spring.
Watch Rooks' interview with NUsports.com
Watch Dunsmore's interview with NUsports.com
Kafka 14-71, Concannon 17-60, Sutton 18-56, Persa 10-26, Woodsum 4-14, Bachér 2-(18).
Bachér 10-12 83 yds., Kafka 4-8 37 yds. 1 INT, Persa 3-6 15 yds., Brewer 0-1 0 yds.
Lane 4-49, Peterman 3-24, Frymire 3-14, Ward 2-14, Brewer 2-10, Markshausen 1-11, Woodsum 1-8, B. Mitchell 1-5.
Northwestern welcomed a new member to its football family Thursday night. Video coordinator Matt Harper and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of a baby girl, Isabella Grace, born at 6:37 p.m. She weighed 8 lbs. and 2 oz., and stood 20 3/4" tall.
Former Wildcats Brian Kardos (1993-96) and Rashad Morton (1997-2000) attended Saturday's scrimmage and spoke briefly to the team afterwards.