Category Archive for Football

Chris Johnson
By
Apr 18, 2014

In the weeks since Peter Sung Ohr, the director of the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, ruled that scholarship football players at Northwestern with remaining eligibility are employees and directed an election to take place that will decide whether they can unionize, speculation has swirled that alumni would try to influence the vote.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald and multiple players – including quarterback Trevor Siemian, who said players erred in not conferring with Fitzgerald and athletic director Jim Phillips before allowing a ‘third party’ to get involved – have gone public with their intention to side against the College Athletes Players Organization. And there are other people connected to the University who believe collective bargaining is not the right vehicle for the players to gain more rights and protections.

But there are some alumni who are committed to advancing the players’ agenda. Led by Kevin Brown, a defensive back at NU in the 1980s, an advocacy group composed of former players and alumni will be formed before the union vote. The Daily Northwestern reported that the group will not try to influence the election.

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By
Apr 17, 2014

Returning Starters: Venric Mark, Treyvon Green

Others Returning: Stephen Buckley, Warren Long, Tim Hanrahan, Malin Jones, Xavier Menifield, Mike Panico

Incoming Recruits: Justin Jackson, Auston Anderson

Projected Depth Chart

1.a. Venric Mark

1.b. Treyvon Green

2.a. Stephen Buckley

2.b. Warren Long

Explaining the depth chart

The running back depth chart is as crowded as ever, and it’s also very fluid. Because each player possesses a unique skill set, there’s no way to concretely label a player first or second team – with a few exceptions of course.

Those exceptions are at the top of the depth chart. Venric Mark entered last season as arguably the top running back in the Big Ten, but injuries derailed his season. Now he’s back, and on track to be at 100 percent for summer camp, and thus naturally assumes a place atop the depth chart.

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Josh Rosenblat
By
Apr 17, 2014

Former and current Northwestern football players met Wednesday night to air opinions and concerns regarding the union vote scheduled for April 25.

The Daily Northwestern’s Alex Putterman (@AlexPutt02) and The New York Times’ Ben Strauss (@bstrauss1) were at the meeting for at least a portion of it before, according to Putterman, they were asked to leave.

According to what the two reported, the meeting centered around the issue of alumni interfering in the union vote by threatening players to vote “no.”

According to Putterman’s account, it seemed that “almost everyone who spoke up seemed in agreement that a union was not the proper way to deal with issues confronting college athletes.”

Preceding the meeting, alumni met with Fitzgerald to discuss the union possibility.

Putterman also tweeted about the meeting with Fitzgerald, as he wrote, “Fitz made no promises to alums but said ‘You know my past. I’m for change.’”

Along with an account of the meeting, Strauss’ article also includes this telling anecdote from former Northwestern player Chris Hinton:

Chris Hinton, an offensive lineman selected in the first round of the 1983 draft, said Colter and his teammates were part of a lineage at Northwestern that dates to his sophomore year. Hinton was part of a group of black Northwestern football players that felt discriminated against by Coach Rick Venturi. The group threatened to boycott games if conditions did not improve. A new coach was hired the next season.

“It’s part of a legacy,” said Hinton, who recently reached out to [Kain] Colter. “The N.C.A.A. system is messed up, and they’re doing something about it.”

While it is still uncertain what direction the players will vote, it seems as though the number of people giving their input on the situation has created as much controversy as the union itself. Ultimately, it’s up to Northwestern’s current players, and only them, to quite possibly decide the future of college sports.

Josh Rosenblat
By
Apr 16, 2014
Rosenblat 16-football practice

As the new starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian will become Northwestern’s leader, a role that may require him to repair a split locker room. Josh Rosenblat | INSIDE NORTHWESTERN

Returning starter(s): Trevor Siemian (Sr.)

Others returning: Zach Oliver (Jr.), Christian Salem (So.), Matt Alviti (Fr.)

Incoming recruit(s): Clayton Thorson

Depth chart projection

1. Trevor Siemian

2. Matt Alviti

3. Zack Oliver

4. Christian Salem

Explaining the depth chart

While Siemian had been listed at “1b” for most of the last two seasons, the senior will finally have the reigns to the offense completely to himself. He is the only quarterback on the roster with any significant college experience and deservedly has the starting job. Behind Siemian, Alviti has received the most snaps this spring after the highly-touted recruit redshirted last season. Oliver who backed up both Siemian and Kain Colter last year has slid down to the third spot and Salem, a sophomore, fills in the final spot.

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Kevin Trahan
By
Apr 14, 2014

Returning starters: WR Christian Jones (Sr.), WR Tony Jones (Sr.), SB Dan Vitale (Jr.)

Others returning: WR Corey Acker (RS Fr.), WR Quinn Baker (RS Fr.), WR Cermak Bland (Jr.), WR Austin Carr (Sr.), WR Cameron Dickerson (Jr.), SB Doug Diedrick (Jr.), WR Tom Fuessel (RS Fr.), WR Mark Gorogianis (RS Fr.), WR Mike McHugh (So.), WR Jordan Perkins (Jr.), WR Kyle Prater (Sr.), WR Andrew Scanlan (So.), SB Jack Schwaba (So.), WR Miles Shuler (Jr.), SB Mark Szott (Jr.), SB Jayme Taylor (RS Fr.), WR Macan Wilson (RS Fr.), WR Pierre Youngblood-Ary (Jr.)

Incoming recruits: Solomon Vault

Depth chart projection

First string
WR — Tony Jones, Christian Jones, Cameron Dickerson; SB — Dan Vitale

Second string
WR — Kyle Prater, Miles Shuler, Andrew Scanlan; SB — Mark Szott/Jayme Taylor

Explaining the depth chart 

The starting line for both the receivers and superbacks is about as obvious as it’s going to get when we make these position groups. The Joneses established themselves as starting receivers last year, and Cameron Dickerson was the clear “next man in” after the departure of Rashad Lawrence. Those three have taken the first string reps all spring, and in a new — likely more pass-heavy — era, they have a chance to be pretty good this season. After starting the last two seasons, Dan Vitale is the obvious starer once again at superback.

The second string is a bit more complicated. I know a lot of Northwestern fans have given up on Kyle Prater, but the coaches really seem to like what he’s done this spring, and he may finally be able to contribute. Rutgers transfer Miles Shuler has shown a lot of flashes during the spring, as well. There’s still room for another player to step up, and my money’s on Andrew Scanlan, who the coaching staff is high on. At superback, Mark Szott is the established backup and should retain that position, but I included Jayme Taylor, because the coaches have really liked what he’s shown.

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Chris Johnson
By
Apr 13, 2014

It happens every year.

A player makes a few nice plays in spring practice and fans and the news media get excited and begin to think about whether that player can make those same plays against other teams in the fall. At post-practice meetings with the press, the head coach says he is “impressed” by how the player is performing, that he is encouraged by how hard he has worked and the strides he’s made on the field and in the weight room.

Multiple outlets use those quotes in stories, serving – from a fan’s vantage point – as validation that the player’s performance is truly noteworthy, an indication, perhaps, of what’s to come in a few months. Groupthink creeps in. Everyone hops aboard the player X bandwagon. He’s looked great in spring workouts. I can’t wait to see what he does this season. No one will be able to stop him!

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Chris Johnson
By
Apr 13, 2014

Returning starters: OT Jack Konopka (Sr.), OT Paul Jorgensen (Sr.), OG Geoff Mogus (Jr.), OG Matt Frazier (Jr.), C Brandon Vitabile (Sr.)

Others returning: OT Shane Mertz (Jr.), OT Eric Olson (So.), OG Hayden Baker (Sr.), OG Adam DePietro (So.), OG Ian Park (So.), OT Kenton Playko (So.), OT Sam Coverdale (RS Fr.), OT Graham Bullmore (RS Fr.), OG Zack Guritz (RS Fr.), OG Blake King (RS Fr.), OG Brad North (RS Fr.)

Incoming recruits: Tommy DolesBlake Hance

Depth chart projection

OT – Paul Jorgensen, Shane Mertz
OG – Geoff Mogus, Kenton Playko
C – Brandon Vitabile, Hayden Baker
OG – Matt Frazier, Adam DePietro
OT – Eric Olson, Jack Konopka

Explaining the depth chart 

Offensive line was one of Northwestern’s worst positions last season. The group failed to adequately protect quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian and it struggled to open up holes for the running backs. Perhaps the biggest culprit was Konopka. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior seemed to regress in his second season starting at tackle, and it looks like Konopka’s poor play could cost him his starting spot. He lined up with the second unit at spring practices, with senior Jorgensen filling his spot at left tackle. Sophomore Olson looked good taking first-team reps at right tackle, while fourth-year starter Vitabile and the two guards who started last season, Matt Frazier and Geoff Mogus, manned the interior.

Something to keep in mind over the next few months is the possibility that Konopka could win back his starting spot. He lined up with the second team during the spring, but Konopka has proven himself a capable starter. At the very least, he could push Olson for the starting right tackle spot. DePietro started one game last season, against Michigan State, and could push for playing time. If the depth chart holds as is, Northwestern will have a ‘veteran’ offensive line, with the exception of Olson, who has yet to start a college game.

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