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Northwestern football fall camp position battles: Offensive guard

Thanks to an awesome season last year and a lot of returning starters, most of Northwestern 2013 football depth chart is already set. Some spots aren't. Let's talk about those!

(That's Brian Mulroe hoisting Venric, which is why the pic is relevant)
(That's Brian Mulroe hoisting Venric, which is why the pic is relevant)

Northwestern's fall football camp has started! This is mainly important, because it means football is coming, but it is also very important because this is where Northwestern will decide who will play football for their team in 2013. Although many positions are decided, some are not, and every practice is important for deciding who will play these positions.

If you do not literally shell money out of your own pocket to receive minutiae from every single day of practice, you will completely fail to understand who will be important for Northwestern in 2013- wait what's that

"I like playing a lot of guys in the opener," Fitzgerald said... "I don't want to sit there and say ‘You're the one and here we go for the rest of the year.' You want to reward those guys if they're close. So I don't think I'll ever put a deadline on it. I just think if it separates, the reps and the competition will take care of itself."

oh really

"You can ask me every day about the offensive line and I'm going to give you a really vague answer because I really don't care," Fitzgerald said. "I've got to watch the tape and we've got to make an analysis of where guys were at on a specific day based on what we were doing and more importantly how consistent were they over time and then we'll put different combinations out there just to kind of see who's jelling. You're going to see a lot of different combinations."

oh so it's like

"If [there is] a definite separation [between Smith and Ellis], you'll probably see one guy play more than the other," Fitzgerald said. "If it's close, we'll rotate them, keep them fresh and away we go."

You should follow all the people reporting from training camp and they're doing really awesome work -- and I'll have a post rounding up their stuff later today, if and when I get around to it -- and don't get me wrong: I like to get caught up in the ups and downs of who's doing well and who isn't as much as anybody, because, dammit, 24 DAYS TIL FOOTBALL, but the primary importance of camp, especially in the early days, is to get everybody on the same page physically and mentally more than it is to DECIDE WHO WILL PLAY FOREVER.

That said: when you look at Northwestern's 2013 football depth chart, the majority of the Wildcats' position roles are set, some are up for grabs. Some of them will be done by committee, some will be done by one guy. We might find out who the leaders are quickly, we might end up getting an "OR" on the first official depth chart of the year, we might have two guys essentially neck-and-neck.

This is the first in a series of posts about the jobs that are up for grabs, the guys who (in my eyes) will be fighting, and what I think could happen at each. The links are to the player profiles that I have been writing all summer long, except in cases where I have not yet reached their countdown number.

Offensive guard (Both!)

Dramatis personae

The situation

"Y'all know me, still the same OG"

-- Dr. Dre

Except Northwestern will not have the same OG! In fact, they will have neither OG! There are TWO spots here open!

Northwestern graduated both Brian Mulroe, who could've gone to the NFL but ended up taking a job at Aon, and Neal Deiters, who started last year at the left and right guard spots respectively. Adam DePietro started at the right guard spot in spring ball when Frazier was hurt. Their backups were Mogus and Frazier. Park was projected to be Brandon Vitabile's backup center, but that's not a job that's going to need a lot of backing up hopefully, so it's alright for him to freelance at other spots. Hayden Baker's also on the roster, and although he was all-state in high school, he's a walk-on.

Northwestern tends to pick one starter for each guard spot, but tends to allow backups to get in the game pretty regularly, to spell the starters and get some experience for the newbies. So whoever earns the job -- and it will likely be somebody rather than an "OR" situation, don't expect the other guys not to be in the mix.

What we see happening

We have Mogus and Frazier projected starting at the spots where they backed up last year, because we're boring and like moving people up one peg. In my profile posts I also said that while I expected DePietro to compete, I figured he would see time swinging between the two guard spots with Baker in more of an emergency-type role, but it seems the Cats are interested in playing Park at guard with the road blocked at center, so I'd expect him and DePietro to each earn a backup role.

Reading material

Callie Counselor's profile of the offensive line battle at Inside NU:

Assuming Frazier's injury from spring is no longer an issue, those four will battle for the two positions for at least the next two weeks.

Practice report:

Important social media updates

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