After Pat Fitzgerald’s morning press conference, we were able to see Northwestern on the field for the first time in 2016 training camp. The team wore shoulder pads but no other pads; quarterbacks wore non-contact jerseys (as per usual) and the tackling at all other positions was essentially wrapping up and hugging the ballcarriers.
Here’s what stood out:
- Watching practice were offensive lineman Ian Park, true freshman running back Jeremy Larkin, defensive back Parrker Westphal and defensive tackle Jordan Thompson. Larkin is recovering from offseason surgery, and neither Thompson nor Westphal’s issues are considered serious.
- Absent from practice were linebacker Simba Short, kicker Mason Weissenhofer and superback/linebacker Tom Hruby. NCAA rules only allow 105 players to attend training camp.
- The first-team offensive line featured (from left to right) Blake Hance, Connor Mahoney, Brad North, Shane Mertz and Eric Olson.
- First team wide receivers for the first drive of 11-on-11 were Andrew Scanlan, Austin Carr, Marcus McShepard and Solomon Vault. Charlie Fessler and Flynn Nagel also saw action with the first-teamers.
- Warren Long, working with the ones, ran over true freshman Brian Bullock. Welcome to college football, Brian.
- Marcus McShepard beat his man deep on a couple of occasions on 11-on-11. Thorson overthrew him on one but hit him down the left sideline for a long touchdown. The cornerback-turned-wide receiver’s speed was on display in one-on-one drills, too, when he beat Keith Watkins on a double move.
- John Moten got reps ahead of Auston Anderson in the first session 11-on-11, but they split reps in the second 11-on-11 session.
- The second team offensive line featured (from left to right) Ben Oxley, Andrew Otterman, J.B. Butler, Jared Thomas and Sam Coverdale.
- It was somewhat difficult to determine who really stood out on defense, as lots of veterans—including defensive tackles Tyler Lancaster and C.J. Robbins—did not see action in 11-on-11. Thus, the “first team” was a mix of true first-teamers and backups.
- With lots of older guys sitting out, we saw a lot of younger guys getting significant reps. Defensive lineman Jake Saunders, cornerback Roderick Campbell and defensive end Tommy Carnifax got some action with the second-stringers. With the veteran tackles out, Alex Miller ran with the first team.
- Xavier Washington had an impressive move, beating Mertz to the inside and flushing Thorson from the pocket. He likely would have had a sack, and some fellow defenders mobbed him after the play.
- In one-on-ones Matt Harris stood out, and Trae Williams had a nice knock away from true freshman walk-on Parker Oliver.
- After the first round of 11-on-11, the defense headed over to the sideline to hydrate, but Matthew Harris yelled at them to huddle up and proceeded to let his teammates have it, telling them they gave up too many big plays and needed to step it up (and using some NSFW vocabulary along the way).
- There was not much on the special teams front from practice, but Matt Harris, Flynn Nagel, Austin Carr and Macan Wilson fielded punts from a JUGS machine.