Northwestern-Syracuse depth chart: Kain Colter, Venric Mark injuries remain mysterious, Dwight White starting

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The specter of life with a hampered Kain Colter and Venric Mark has been awoken, but we don't know for sure how healthy they are. Elsewhere, Dwight White is Northwestern's starting cornerback.

The question of the week -- how healthy are Kain Colter and Venric Mark -- will remain unanswered, with both staying in their starting spots per Pat Fitzgerald's official word.

Both players are considered day-to-day, and that's all we'll hear as the No. 22 Wildcats prepare to take on Syracuse. And although that's frustrating, we're fine with it. The stink of it is that Mark was clearly banged up all week last week in practice, but that those around the program made sure word wouldn't leak out so Cal wouldn't know they might not be dealing with Northwestern's star running back at full strength. If being secretive about the extent of each player's injury is helpful, I'm all for Northwestern being secretive.

What Northwestern fans should distinctly not be fine with is the prospect of either player spending a lot of time out of the lineup or at less than full strength. We're not getting any real idea of what the injury is to either player -- "upper-body" for Colter (read: concussion) and "lower-body" (read: AHHHHHH.) Like we wrote yesterday, Trevor Siemian and Treyvon Green were spectacular in backup roles against Cal, but they're backups for a reason. Mark and Colter are unique talents that force Northwestern's opponents to stop an option attack that is very difficult to stop. If you have dreams for the 2013 Wildcats, they feature Mark and Colter.

Hopefully rest allows both players to cycle back to full health, and all we have to do is wait. Luckily, this is a stretch of the schedule where rest is acceptable -- it's a nice progressing scale down of skill level from Syracuse to Western Michigan to Maine to bye week before Ohio State -- but, then again, we're coming off a stretch of the schedule where there were no games for nine months, so it's disappointing to already be dealing with two key players dinged up.

Here's a look at the depth chart for the Syracuse game.

OFFENSE
Starter Backup
QB 2 Kain Colter (Sr.)
13 Trevor Siemian (Jr.)
RB 5 Venric Mark (Sr.) 32 Mike Trumpy (Sr.) or 22 Treyvon Green (Jr.)
WR-X 6 Tony Jones (Jr.) 11 Pierre Youngblood-Ary (So.)
WR-Y 80 Mike Jensen (Sr.)
12 Cermak Bland (So)
WR-Z 17 Rashad Lawrence (Sr.) 19 Cameron Dickerson (So.)
WR-H 14 Christian Jones (Jr.) 82 Andrew Scanlan (Fr.)
SB 40 Dan Vitale (So.) 85 Mark Szott (So.)
LT 75 Jack Konopka (Jr.) 71 Shane Mertz (So.)
LG 53 Geoff Mogus (So.) 73 Adam DePietro (Fr.)
C 65 Brandon Vitabile (Jr.) 57 Matt Frazier (So.)
RG 64 Ian Park (Fr.) 65 Hayden Baker (Jr.)
RT 78 Paul Jorgensen (Jr.) 76 Eric Olson (Fr.)
DEFENSE
FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
DE 97 Tyler Scott (Sr.) 7 Ifeadi Odenigbo (Fr.)
DT 67 Sean McEvilly (Jr.) 90 C.J. Robbins (So.)
DT 99 Chance Carter(Jr.) 90 Will Hampton (Sr.)
DE 94 Dean Lowry (So.) OR 98 Deonte Gibson (So.)
SLB 45 Collin Ellis (Jr.) 42 Joseph Jones (Fr.)
MLB 46 Damien Proby (Sr.) 50 Timmy Vernon (Sr.) or 51 Jaylen Prater (Fr.)
WLB 44 Chi Chi Ariguzo (Jr.) 55 Drew Smith (So.)
CB 23 Nick VanHoose (So.) 13 C.J. Bryant (Jr.)
S 24 Ibraheim Campbell (Jr.) 16 Davion Fleming (Sr.) or 26 Terrance Brown (Fr.0
S 10 Traveon Henry (So.) 9 Jimmy Hall (Jr.)
CB 2 Dwight White (Fr.) 27 Matthew Harris (Fr.)
SPECIAL TEAMS
FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
P 49 Brandon Williams (Sr.)
K (FG) 37 Jeff Budzien (Sr.)
KO 37 Jeff Budzien (Sr.)
LS 59 Pat Hickey (Sr.) 52 Chris Fitzpatrick (So.)
H 49 Brandon Williams (Sr.)
PR 6 Tony Jones (Jr.) 5 Venric Mark (Sr.)
KR 5 Venric Mark (Sr.) 8 Stephen Buckley (Fr.)

Now that we've talked about the two changes that didn't happen, let's talk about the few that did.

With the Daniel Jones injury, Dwight White moves into the starting lineup. Gulp. True freshman Matthew Harris, who played one (1) snap Saturday on special teams, is now listed as Nick VanHoose's backup, which, oh man.

After Kyle Prater and Mike McHugh missed last game with injury, neither player is on the depth chart as a backup X receiver. Pierre Youngblood-Ary is, which is nice to see after he earned praise in camp.

Although Mark's position as the starting RB is unchanged, there are tweaks to special teams roles on the depth chart. Tony Jones is now listed as the starting punt returner, and Stephen Buckley is listed as the starting kickoff man after handling those duties Saturday night. This is particularly unencouraging. Although it's important Mark's role be limited so he can stay healthy, he's absolutely dynamic as a return man, and that helped Northwestern time and time again. We hyped up NU's special teams in the offseason, and an enormous part of that was having possibly the best punt returner in the country and a damn good guy on kickoffs as well. Buckley didn't show anything on his three returns Saturday, and Jones didn't opt to return any punts.

Again, like we said, all we can hope is for Mark and Colter to bide their time and get up to speed, but, gameplanning for life without them isn't enjoyable.

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