by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
Northwestern's final open practice before game week was yesterday and InsideNU was there to catch the action. Most position battles seem to be set by now, but we still have some speculation on who can win the major battles once the two-deeps come out on Monday.
The linebacker position battle has flown under the radar this year, but it finally seems to be taking shape, as it looks like sophomore Chi Chi Ariguzo has won the starting spot at Sam linebacker, alongside Damien Proby at Mike linebacker and David Nwabuisi at Will linebacker. Ariguzo was in a battle with Collin Ellis, who started last year before breaking his thumb.
Pat Fitzgerald called Ellis "1.B." which is typically his nice way of saying, "he's pretty good, but he's still second string." However, it's actually true in this case, as Ellis will see a lot of playing time in a four-man rotation with Ariguzo, Nwabuisi and Proby. That's made possible by the versatility the linebackers bring to the table.
"Collin can play Will and Sam, Chi Chi can play Will and Sam, Damien can play Will and Mike, David can play Will, Mike and Sam," Fitzgerald said.
That incredible versatility is what makes the linebacker corps arguably the best unit on the defense. All four of those guys should see the field a lot and some other guys, such as redshirt freshman Drew Smith and junior Timmy Vernon, could push for decent playing time as well.
More depth chart notes
- Earlier in camp it seemed that Chance Carter would be the starter at defensive tackle alongside Brian Arnfelt. However, he is being pushed by Will Hampton, who could end up getting the start at Syracuse.
- Kyle Prater has received the most hype of any of the receivers this fall, but don't expect him to start at Syracuse. He's very talented and will get his chances, but it's going to take some time for him to adjust — remember, he hasn't played a significant role in a football game in three years. Right now, he looks like, at best, the No. 5 receiver. Demetrius Fields, Christian Jones, Tony Jones and Rashad Lawrence look like the top four — expect a lot of four-receiver sets this year, with so much inexperience at superback — and redshirt freshman Cameron Dickerson has had a great camp. Dickerson is a big target who Kain Colter raved about a couple weeks ago as a young guy who has impressed so far, so expect him to get a lot of playing time, as well.
Chris Emma has an article on NU's close-knit offensive line.
Scout's Jeremy Woo spoke with NU 2013 basketball commit Nate Taphorn, who will be participating in the Elite 24 three-point contest.