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NU Football Practice Notes: Sept. 24

Notes and quotes from Pat Fitzgerald after Northwestern's Tuesday practice:

- Fitz on why mostly freshmen and underclassmen practiced, and only a few varsity guys, including Mark and Harris: "Most of our young guys here are in minicamp, so just the way that we practice and the things that we do, they’ve got to pay a little better attention to detail. They haven’t been a heavy focus for five weeks, so obviously they’ve digressed a bit in the scout field.

"We do minicamp practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the varsity lifts and gets a good workout in and really good film prep. That’s why I like where the bye fell, it gives us a chance to refocus and reenergize the young guys. Hopefully they’ll practice better as we move forward the rest of the year."

- On Venric Mark: "He’s been going all along. He’s day-to-day, and he’s had different participation in practice based on how he feels. But I’ve just been encouraged with the way that he’s worked and his attitude. Hopefully he’ll get back on the field here soon."

- On watching games this weekend: "I’ll be a fan, I’m going to tailgate. We’re going to have some friends over at the house and watch some football, probably start watching Gameday in the morning and watch the BTN show, have some folks over, watch some games."

- On playing Northern Illinois next year: "Excited for the challenge. I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Carey and the job that they’ve done there being back-to-back MAC champions. I think we’ve made it pretty obvious that we want to have a challenging nonconference schedule, and we needed a game for next year. It makes a lot of sense I think for both squads, should be a lot of fun."

- On whether scheduling philosophy changes w/ CFB playoff SOS criteria: "I think you have to have a strength of schedule to be in the conversation for the postseason to get the championship opportunities and that’s what we aspire to be – a championship level program. You gotta have your schedule in place. You never know, you can never predict what’s going to happen in those years, but at the same time I think we’ve made it pretty clear that we want to play games that make sense, games against academic comparables, against teams that regionally make sense, things of that nature. So it should be a great challenge for us."

- On noncom scheduling strategy: "You’ve seen us play Syracuse, Boston College in the past – teams on the East Coast. We’re doing a lot of [recruiting] work in New Jersey and Maryland, Pennsylvania – things of that nature that we’ve had great success in over the years. Played Duke and Rice over the years, and this year with Cal. So, there’s no question we want to play seven home football games is a priority, we want the opportunity to play academic comparables, we want to play recruiting competition, and we want to play games that regionally make sense."

- Warren Long had some nice runs in practice today after looking good in limited action against Maine (he had a punt block against the Black Bears that he wasn't credited with). Jayme Taylor also had some nice catches, though he still has his redshirt and there's no indication he'll lose it.