Northwestern spring practice kicked off today... and ended 45 minutes early. That's great, because these student-athletes have classes and the "student-athlete experience" keeping them busy too, you see.
So now that I'm sure I've offended about half of our readership with that joke, let's take a look at what happened in practice and in the post-practice press conference. Keep in mind, this is the first practice of the spring. Position battles aren't even won in the entirety of spring practice, so you certainly can't take a lot from the first day. However, there were some good notes about where everyone stands heading into the new year.
- Trevor Siemian took first team reps, which is no surprise. Pat Fitzgerald reiterated that Siemian would be the starter if they played today, and there's no indication that's going to change. However, the bigger news is that Zack Oliver was taking second team reps ahead of Matt Alviti. That's not exactly shocking, but those fans expecting Alviti to compete for the starting job should know that he first has to beat out Oliver for the backup role.
- Siemian noted that there will be less option in this offense, which again, is no surprise. Northwestern has some very good running backs, so it will be interesting to see the run-pass ratio next season. I asked Siemian if the offense would look like the offenses since he's been at NU, or if it would look more like the Kafka or Bacher years. He refused to speculate, but I would guess one of the latter two. We'll see.
- The offensive line situation is very fluid, according to Fitz. He said that first team reps could change practice-by-practice or even rep-by-rep. The biggest battles were expected to be at guard, but today showed that the starters at tackle anything but set. Last year's right tackle starter, Paul Jorgensen, took first team reps, but Eric Olson replaced Jack Konopka on first team. The guards and center on the first team — Matt Frazier, Brandon Vitabile and Geoff Mogus — were the same as the starters at the end of last season. This is by no means settled, but the tackle situation looks a bit less clear than we expected.
- The top three receivers are pretty clearly Christian Jones, Tony Jones and Cameron Dickerson. That's a pretty strong group. Miles Shuler also showed off his speed and should contribute.
- We got to see redshirt freshman safeties Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro in action together today. It will be interesting to see how much those guys play.
- Parrker Westphal was just running offensive plays today to help out the defense. He's got a ways to go before we start talking about serious playing time, which is understandable. However, he'll have a step up on the rest of his class.
- NU was indoors today, because it was 0 degrees outside. Fitz said the team was indoors for the first nine practices last year. Considering how cold it's been, that could easily happen again.