Oct. 23, 2013
Northwestern is in the process of attempting to regain the swag, particularly on offense, that has defined its play over the last season and a half. Senior leaders Kain Colter and Rashad Lawrence speak about how they can go about doing that in Wednesday's Skip Report by Skip Myslenski.
Pat Fitzgerald says Kain Colter is day-to-day. But ask the quarterback himself if there is any doubt that he will play Saturday at Iowa and he will say, "No. I'll play."
COLTER PRACTICED fully on Tuesday and Wednesday, the sessions that are open to the media, and exhibited no apparent negative effects from his injured ankle. "I feel pretty good," he said after one of them. "I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent right now. But getting back in the groove of things is a lot better than sitting on the sidelines. So I feel pretty good."
, of course, on the sideline for the 'Cats loss last Saturday to Minnesota. "It was tough," he said of that experience. "That was the first game I missed since I've been here, so it was really tough especially when I felt like I could be out there helping my team."
Was the greater concern that he would re-injure the ankle or that he would be ineffective?
"It was more about re-injuring. It happened (the) week (before the Wisconsin game) in practice and then I messed it up in the game at Wisconsin and they just wanted it to get better before I went out there and did something that could mess it up for the rest of the season. But I feel good about it. I've been rehabbing every day and it's getting strong."
Whose decision was it?
"The doctors. And obviously me telling them how I feel."
A BAD ANKLE, quite obviously, can compromise the competitor's ability to cut, which is a staple of Colter's repertoire. Is that an issue? "My thing was a little bit different than just a regular ankle," he said. "It wasn't like a regular, rolled ankle. I don't want to get into details. But it's mostly that (cutting) and also just keeping it protected and making sure it's healthy. We'll go from there. I've been happy with what the trainers have done, so I should be good to go."
Can he push off it with confidence yet or does he still worry about it?
"I felt confident today and didn't really think about it today and had some runs. Obviously, I wasn't doing anything crazy. But I had to cut off it and it felt good."
ONE MORE obvious fact is the offense struggled in his absence last Saturday and with him limited a week earlier at Wisconsin. "I just think we have to get our confidence back," he said in explanation. "Our offense is all about rhythm and we just haven't been able to get in a rhythm. Too many three-and-outs. It's almost like we go three-and-out or drive down the field and put some points on the board. So for us it's just getting back into the rhythm and getting that first first down. If we can do that, it'll be good. I also think we need to get back into our tempo stuff and start wearing teams down. Once we get in a rhythm, we'll be all right."
He said "get our confidence back." Has the offense lost confidence? Has the team lost confidence?
"I wouldn't say confidence," he now demurred. "I think more just swag. It's going on the field knowing we can play with any defense. We still know that, but we need to see it happen. We need to see results and see us moving the ball and see us putting points on the board. It's going to take execution."
We later read that answer to Rashad Lawrence, the wide receiver.
"I wouldn't say we lost any confidence. I would say at times during games we just lose a rhythm," he said. "I guess that rhythm can be that swag that we have. As any offense, as any player in the game really, you need some kind of rhythm about you to be able to execute. But it's kind of two-fold. You either get in rhythm to execute, or you execute to get in that rhythm. We've just got to find that motion."
THE LAST obvious fact is that a player like Colter, who personifies the definition of competitor, might try to do too much on his return to jump start his unit. That could well be self-defeating, which he fully knows. "We all just have to be confident in the plan. Honestly, when you have a few tough weeks, you've just got to go back to the fundamentals," he said when that issue was raised. "We learned that we trust the structure of our offense. Guys don't need to press to try to make a play. We just need to do what we do. For me, get our guys the ball and let them make plays and me make a play when my time is called. We don't need to do too much. It's not the end of the world. Our offense is still good. We just got to get things going."
"Across the board, we've just got to execute better," Lawrence would later echo. "We've got schemes in place that work when you watch them on film. So it just comes down to us executing better to find our rhythm, then we can go from there."
AND FINALLY, Colter, on the mood of the team: "We feel like we got punched in the gut and it's gut check time. For us, it's all about pride right now. We're not worried about long-term goals or anything like that. It's about winning the game for self-pride and going out there, putting our best foot forward. Especially on offense, we feel like we haven't been pulling our slack. The defense is giving us opportunities. It's time for us to have some accountability to them and accountability to the team."
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