The statuses of Venric Mark and Kain Colter haven’t formally changed since coach Pat Fitzgerald first addressed them on Monday: they are questionable for Saturday’s home opener against Syracuse. Whether Fitzgerald actually plans to play one or either, or whether he’s simply trying to give the impression his dinged up offensive stars will be active so as to force Syracuse coach Scott Shafer to prepare for schemes and formations he may not even deploy, is unknown. Earlier this week, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported Colter does, indeed, plan to play Saturday. Both Colter and Mark took limited reps in practice.
Resting injured players before conference play is a prudent move, but if Fitzgerald plans to hold his guys out (or limit their playing time) before the Oct. 5 Ohio State game, consecutive contests against Western Michigan and Maine, with a bye week nestled before OSU, provide ample opportunity to do so. (Even then, Colter and Mark could have reached 100 percent by next week). If Colter and Mark can play, I suspect they will. Which, duh. There are opportunities for precautionary sit-downs on the horizon; Northwestern just needs to get past a beatable, but not dismissible, nonconference opponent first.
The rest of Thursday’s injury report doesn’t bring a whole lot of new information to our attention. First, cornerback Daniel Jones will miss the remainder of the reason – you knew that already. True freshman cornerback Matthew Harris, who was injured on the opening play of Saturday’s game while trying to run through blockers on a kick return, looks to have gotten past his rocky, injury-afflicted college football indoctrination, and should become an important part of Northwestern’s cornerback depth going forward. With Jones missing the rest of the year, Harris has an opportunity to seize a large chunk of playing time at the No. 2 cornerback spot; he certainly showed starter’s potential during training camp.
Now we get to the light-hearted part of this release: Ariguzo, Proby and Hampton, as you might recall, were three of the players prominently involved in the second half injury-faking allegations Cal coach Sonny Dykes, not to mention a legion of irked Golden Bears fans, leveled – whether implicitly or outright – at Northwestern in the wake of Saturday’s 44-30 win. Maybe those three guys are really injured…or maybe Fitzgerald is trying to make emphatically clear that his players would never, ever fake injuries by having them listed on the next week’s injury report. The situation is totally up to your interpretation, of course.
Another notable development on this week's report, one Sippin On’ Purple's Rodger Sherman brought to my attention, is the absence of Kyle Prater, Mike McHugh and Eric Olson – all of whom were ruled out last week. Olson being back gives NU some needed tackle depth, which is always a nice thing to have on a young offensive line still trying to find its feet and assimilate three new starters. Prater’s seeming tumble on the wide receiver depth chart has been remarkable – the former five-star and No. 1-ranked receiver is not even listed on this week’s two-deep, with no injury explanation explaining his absence. McHugh didn’t crack the depth chart, either, but I am more optimistic about his chances to contribute not only in 2013, but in future seasons; McHugh is a big, fast, explosive target who could morph into a dangerous weapon in NU’s passing game.