April 22, 2010
WATCH: 10 Questions with Defensive Coordinator M. Hankwitz
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Following a recent series of hard-hitting practices, Northwestern removed all pads from the equation but still conducted a fast-paced and productive session Thursday morning on its outdoor practice field. It marked the 14th and final workout in the lead-up to Saturday's annual spring scrimmage, slated for a noon start time at Ryan Field.
Northwestern's offense and defense each won their fair share of plays during the full team situational scrimmage on Thursday, which was highlighted by a long Dan Persa (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) touchdown pass over the top to wideout Sidney Stewart (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington Harrison).
On the next series, Persa ended his practice with a nice 10-yard touch pass to wide receiver Jeremy Ebert (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) as Ebert snuck behind the defense in the back of the end zone.
Following practice, NUsports.com caught up with defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, now entering his third season leading the Wildcat defense.
"We set some specific objectives and named areas we wanted to improve in this spring and we feel like we've made strides in accomplishing that," Hankwitz said. "The spring has given us a chance to develop depth and competition at some positions where we had seniors graduating, so all in all we're pleased with the progress we've made."
According to Hankwitz, that competition actually began last fall as Northwestern dealt with a handful of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
"We missed Sherrick McManis, Brad Phillips and Brendan Smith from a couple games last year so we saw guys step up in their places," Hankwitz said. "That's college football -- you're always going to graduate guys and now you have new guys who want to make names for themselves."
For the complete interview with Hankwitz and to hear him discuss each specific defensive unit, click on the link in NUsports.com's All-Access video player.
With an "iffy" weather forecast for Saturday, stay tuned to NUsports.com, Twitter and Facebook for the latest on NU's scrimmage plans. Kids in the eighth grade-and-under will be allowed on the field to "Stretch with the 'Cats" at 11:45 a.m. with the scrimmage then beginning shortly after noon. Parking and admission for the event are free.
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