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Now that he's starting, Dwight White hopes experience is greatest teacher

EVANSTON, Ill. — Dwight White had never seen himself on game film.

“[Watching film] was really interesting because I’ve never actually seen myself in a game,” White said. “So, of course, that was a little different: getting to critique myself, evaluate myself, hearing my coaches give me some feedback. That was a good experience for me.”

Did he like what was on the tape?

“As you all saw, I gave up a big play,” White said of the 52-yard touchdown pass he was beat on in the third quarter of Northwestern’s win over Cal. “I think I needed that. And my coach agrees that I did need that to help me grow as a person and as a player. I think everything that happened in that game, good and bad, was good for me and I think I adjusted well in the fourth quarter.”

The redshirt freshman corner back came in for Daniel Jones who injured himself on a play right before halftime. Monday, Jones was ruled out for the remainder of the season meaning White will be Northwestern’s starting corner opposite Nick VanHoose for the foreseeable future.

“[Jones] is a teammate I worked with every day,” White said. “But knowing that this is my time and that I have to step up for my team, I was in shock for a second, but I just had to clear my mind and focus on helping my team win.”

Defensive backs coach Jerry Brown already planned for White to play in the team’s nickel and dime packages as an extra defensive back covering slot receivers against Cal, but after Jones’ injury, Brown knew he could trust White’s preparation heading into week one.

“Our guys are experienced enough, now, to know that they need to be ready and he was here last year and last year we had a lot of corners go down and were kind of rolling them through. He understood that he had to be ready. Plus, he was a part of the game plan anyway, so it wasn’t just like he wasn’t going to play. He was prepared to play. He wasn’t prepared to play 60-some plays, but he was prepared to play,” Brown said.

Both Brown and White know that Syracuse will pick on the young corner a lot in Saturday’s home opener. They both accept the reality that White’s inexperience could play into the hands of veteran opponents.

“Yeah [White will be picked on],” Brown said. “He’s the newbie. I’d do the same thing.”

As he begins his preparation for Syracuse, White said that the toughest part about playing Cal was their speed. After experiencing his first collegiate game, White expects the game to slow down for him as he becomes more acclimated to playing with the first team defense.

But as far as individual things to work on, his coach had a short list.

“No,” Brown said in response to question about if there are things he will work with White to improve this week. “Just being a football player. I’m not going to treat him any different than what I’ve been treating him. The only difference now is that he’s going to start the ball game.”