I finally got around to watching Northwestern's scrimmage-y thing that happened Saturday on BTN2Go.
If you haven't watch it yet, it's mustn't-see TV. It was a lot like every spring football practice I've ever attended, but a) I was warm and in bed, and not standing on the Northwestern softball field's bleachers in a light drizzle and b) there were much less starters playing, even than usual. Kain Colter came in to halfheartedly hock a few balls, Trevor Siemian was seemingly always playing, but Venric Mark was not involved, and neither were many off the important offensive and defensive cogs we know will be factors, from the lines to the defensive backfield etc. So there wasn't much to read into.
In past years, there's been a lot of question marks in spring ball about how Northwestern butters its offensive bread that ended up being answered over the course of the season. Will Dan Persa - or Evan Watkins, perhaps? - pick up where Mike Kafka left off? (Yes, and haha.) Is Dan Persa healthy? (No.) How will Northwestern operate without Dan Persa? (Quite swimmingly, thanks to an attack of Kain Colter and Venric Mark.)
This year, we're without the luxury of silly speculation. Northwestern won ten goshdarned games this year with a gameplan that doesn't really lose any major members. It's proven and it works, and we can all assume they'll stick to it next year.
So this spring ball parade of second-stringers and developing freshmen was interesting with regards to the future of the program, but it didn't alleviate my desire to just see Kain and Venric merk some fools wearing other colors. We have to wait til September for that.
- There was a lot of fluctuation between positions and swapping and interbreeding between ones and twos, so I decided - wisely, probably - not to make any changes to my best guess Northwestern football depth chart. I would've had to watch way more practices than just 45 minutes of the one televised one to do that. We'll keep an eye on stuff through fall ball and keep that page updated when NU actually releases two-deeps.
- The player that stood out the most to me was Malin Jones. He and Stephen Buckley split the majority of the carries, and Jones seemed the more dynamic of the two. He's 6'0, 205, and has some moves!
- Tough to note any defensive standouts in an environment like that - especially with the quarterback not live - but I liked what I saw from Ifeadi Odenigbo and Chance Carter up front. Just purely throwing names out there.
- Trevor Siemian seemed a little off, but there were so many times in 2012 that we saw him come in and be spot on - Syracuse and Michigan stand out - that it doesn't bother me. Unless he regresses a bunch, of course.
- BTN tried their darndest to turn a practice into a decent display of television, but it was a lost effort. It can't be done. Dan Persa was in the booth with Dave Eanet, and it was his first time announcing anything, so he gets a pass.
- It's really nice that they did it at Lakeside Field. Super-pretty and a good image for the program. However, in one scrimmage situation, Dan Persa noted that Northwestern was "going for it" instead of kicking the long field goal, which... well, there were no uprights for them to kick at. Actually playing football there would be terrible without a real stadium since the wind would just destroy anybody's passing game.
- I'm sure someone pointed this out more officially somewhere, but it appears Jordan Perkins - the running back who was committed to Stanford at one point - is officially a defensive back.
- Fun moment: a pass is thrown incomplete to someone wearing No. 31, so Eanet fumbles for a few seconds and informs us its backup punter Chris Gradone, and sort of moves on while clearly confused that Northwestern just threw a pass to its backup punter. But No. 31 remains on the field, and continues splitting out for passes. Later, Eanet informs us that No. 31 is in fact, Matt Micucci, which clears up the confusion for a second... until you look at the roster and see he's listed as a punter/placekicker as well. Later zoom-ins confirmed that's who it was - he's 5'11 and apparently played quarterback in high school, so that makes more sense. Dude actually made a nice catch along the sidelines.
- "Highlights": Treyvon Green hit an unidentified defender with a spin move. Fun sequence later: Christian Salem (backup quarterback) fumbles the snap, kicks it, tries diving on it, it pops out, linebacker Jaylen Prater picks it up, random defensive players come sprinting on the field, but Tim Hanrahan keeps chasing Prater and skies to bring him down with an extremely unconventional tackle. I giggled.
- The actual highlight was the annual crapshow that is Northwestern football players doing dizzy bats and eating hot dogs. It's a lot more enjoyable when it's been filmed by like five cameras with zoom-ins of people shoving hot dogs down their faces and in-depth coverage of which guys wearing football uniforms are wildly stumbling while holding softball bats.
The race ended up coming down to Shane Mertz, the 6'8 backup offensive tackle who appeared to finish first, but there was a dispute and Pat Fitzgerald forced him to enter a one-on-one hot dog eating spring with another backup offensive tackle, Kenton Playko, which is pictured up there. Mertz trailed at first but was the more methodical eater, and got the win in an event we'll forever remember, by which I mean I wish I had never written this sentence.
So that's that! Thoughts if you also watched that? Or attended or something?