by Jonah Rosenblum (@jonahlrosenblum)
At first glance, Dan Vitale's 25 receiving yards are a blip on the radar screen. And then you recall that Vitale is a true freshman and that coach Pat Fitzgerald is usually reticent when it comes to playing true freshmen. Suddenly, Vitale's 13 receiving yards in Saturday's 22-13 victory over Boston College seem far more noteworthy. After all, Fitzgerald wasn't simply letting Vitale play in a Towson-esque rout, he was inserting Vitale into a key situation in a close game.
"We threw a quick screen to him and he stuck his foot in the ground and went north and got (nine)," Fitzgerald said. "That goes back to his skills that he had at Wheaton Warenville South. He was physical and dynamic with the ball in his hands in high school."
Northwestern is only two wins away from securing its first winning season at home since 2009, a year in which the Wildcats would go on to face Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Northwestern has been surprisingly pedestrian at home over the past couple of years, finishing just 3-3 in both 2010 and 2011. In coach Pat Fitzgerald's time in Evanston, the Wildcats have failed to make Ryan Field into a particularly intimidating home venue. Their 24-17 record at home during Fitzgerald's six-plus years as head coach isn't all that different from their 18-15 record away from home under Fitzgerald. Technically, the Wildcats did post a winning record at Ryan Field in 2010, finishing 3-2 in Evanston with their third "home" loss occurring in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.