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August 23, 2011

Game day atmosphere at NU practice

EVANSTON--It was Tuesday morning at the Northwestern indoor practice facility, but if you closed your eyes, you would swear it was the afternoon of Sept. 3 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

As quarterback Kain Colter walked up to the line of scrimmage, the Boston College fight song was blaring from the speakers overhead. His first-team offense was backed up on its own one-yard line against the first-team defense, and emotions were running high.

This wasn't exactly game day, but it was awfully close.

"It was the first time we got the music going out there, and got the crowd simulation," said Colter, the sophomore quarterback who was running with the first team in the scrimmage at the end of Tuesday morning's two-hour and 15-minute session. "You have to use your 'big boy voice' when things get loud like that so the line can hear you. It felt good. It got the adrenaline pumping."

The defense's adrenaline was pumping, too. Colter tried a quarterback sneak on first down and was stuffed by the defensive tackle tandem of Jack DiNardo and Niko Mafuli. On second down, running back Jacob Schmidt slammed into the middle of the line and eked out a couple yards.

It was now third-and-7 from the 4. The defensive sideline, sensing blood in the water, started whooping it up, adding to the din. On the pivotal play, Colter calmly dropped back and fired a strike down the right sideline to Demetrius Fields, who caught the ball in stride and put his foot down at the 19-yard line before being pushed out of bounds by Jeravin Matthews.

Fifteen-yard gain. First down.

Suddenly, the atmosphere was much quieter.

That's exactly the type of play that Colter wants to make more of this season.

"I feel like that's the thing I've been working on this camp," said the 6-foot, 190-pounder from Cherry Creek (Colo.). "On third down our offense is either going to fail or keep going."

To prove his point, the very next play turned into a big one for the Wildcat offense.

Colter hit Mike Trumpy, who was running an out pattern in the right flat. The sophomore running back turned it upfield just inside the sideline, and here came Matthews, with a full head of steam. The two met shoulder-to-shoulder, sending an echoing cannon shot throughout the big, metal cavern.

Trumpy, who has about 30 pounds on Matthews, won this battle. Matthews wound up on his back and Trumpy ran right over him and down the sideline for a touchdown. The offensive players ran onto the field to celebrate.

Matthews, though, had nothing to be ashamed of.

"We all end up on the wrong side of those once in a while," said safety Brian Peters.

After practice, the media was focused on the status of Dan Persa, the quarterback who is supposed to be taking reps with the first team instead of Colter. Coach Pat Fitzgerald, who called Colter his "No. 1B," and not No. 2, gave no hints at who will start against Boston College, or even when he will make the decision about who will start at Boston College.

"I'm not telling you anything," he said with a smile.


WildcatReport interviewed Colter, Peters and Fitzgerald after practice. Look for much more to come.



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