Aug. 9, 2006
KENOSHA, Wis. --
After five practices in Evanston, the Northwestern football team finally got to open `Camp Kenosha' under beautiful blue skies Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The 10-day camp continues this afternoon as the Wildcats take part in the first of five two-a-day practices. Wednesday's afternoon practice begins at 4:45 p.m.
NU is scheduled for a single practice at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
Having already acclimated the first-year players to the routine of a collegiate football practice in Evanston, the team stepped up the intensity with a spirited first workout north of the Illinois border.
NUsports.com caught up with new head coach Pat Fitzgerald following the morning practice.
NUsports.com: The team has been together for six practices so far this season, what are your initial impressions?
Coach Fitzgerald: Our attitude has been great, they guys have come out with a great enthusiasm in every practice and now we just need to sharpen our focus and attention to detail, taking this one day at a time.
NUsports.com: You have experienced Camp Kenosha as a player, an assistant coach and now as Northwestern's head coach, how does it feel being back here?
Coach Fitzgerald: Honestly, the same as it did in 1993 when I first stepped on to the Wisconsin-Parkside practice fields. I just know my way around a lot better.
NUsports.com: With the loss of Big Ten Player of the Year Brett Basanez, there is a huge spot to fill before Aug. 31 against Miami (Ohio). How is the quarterback situation stacking up?
Coach Fitzgerald: The competition is outstanding; each guy is stepping up and making plays. We continue to work through the decision-making process to make sure we get that position in the right place to lead our offense.
NUsports.com: Being the former linebackers coach, you have a keen eye for the defensive side of the football. What have you noticed from the defense through the first six days?
Coach Fitzgerald: Our speed, we definitely improved our team speed in the offseason. We're getting to the football as well as we ever have this early in camp, but we still have a long way to go. I like the attitude the defense is showing.
CAMP NOTES: Several Northwestern coaches were sporting caps with the word "WALK" on the back of their hat. Northwestern coaches and players will wear uniforms and gear that remember their former head coach, who was affectionately known as "Coach Walk" ... Wide receiver Kim Thompson (Inkster, Mich./Detroit Country Day) hauled in several passes in the morning session, including an impressive 80-yard touchdown grab ... Running back Tyrell Sutton (Akron, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) also churned out several tackle-breaking runs -- runs similar to those that helped him earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2005 ... Several players were sidelined with injuries on Wednesday, with most of the injuries deemed as minor. "This season is going to be a marathon (12 consecutive games with no open date), and I want to make sure our players are ready for Miami on Aug. 31 as well as Illinois on Nov. 18," said Fitzgerald. "We have a bunch of guys with dings and nicks, but they'll all be back soon." ... Wednesday's afternoon practice will be a shorter workout, conducted in partial pads.