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Northwestern Practice Notes: Sept. 10

Northwestern had an early practice on Tuesday because of the heat — it was still pretty miserable out in the morning — as it preps for Western Michigan. Practice wasn't too eventful, but here are a few notes.

- Pat Fitzgerald on the redshirt freshmen: "I thought the offseason was very positive for that group, collectively, and I think we're improving there. We're not where we need to be. I'm not going to mention names, but the guys know who they are. The great things about games is the eye in the sky doesn't lie, and some guys have got to play better if they want to continue to be in the roles they're in. If they want to continue to be in the rotation, they need to play better." It's tough to figure out who he's hinting at here. No redshirt freshman or true sophomore is playing too far below their potential at this point in their career.

- Offensive coordinator Mick McCall said that even with Venric Mark out, the offense stays relatively the same as it would if Mark was in the game. One difference, though, is that the lateral running game "obviously" suffers a little bit.

- Speaking of Mark, he didn't practice today. He's still day-to-day.

- Mike Trumpy and Treyvon Green — both listed as co-starters, along with Mark — both got a lot of reps with the ones in practice, but true freshman Warren Long was also in the mix. Fitz said Long is a "flight deck" guy who could lose his redshirt at some point this season. No word on that for now, though.

- I don't like talking about the best performers because people take way too much from each individual practice. 1) We talkin about practice, and 2) I don't believe the first team offense and defense even saw action against each other today. It was mostly scout team stuff. However, Kyle Prater did have a nice catch, which got me thinking back to the last game. He had three catches and was targeted a few more times. Now he's listed by himself as a backup on the depth chart. It will be interesting to see if his role increases.

- The coaches seemed to be having the defense focus on one receiver on the scout team offense. Maybe Corey Davis, a Western Michigan freshman who leads the team with 16 catches for 212 yards? That would be the best guess. The Broncos might be a bad team, but their passing offense is halfway decent.

- McCall said that they knew Syracuse would blitz a lot — 65 percent of the time, he expected — and he loved that they gameplanned that way.