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April 2011 Archives

Northwestern news and notes

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After a week off here's an entry to catch up on what went on at Northwestern last week:

 Wildcats junior forward John Shurna declared for the NBA draft, but did not hire an agent. Shurna has until May 8 to change his mind and go back to school for his senior season.

Shurna struggled in the second half of the season with a sprained left ankle and then a concussion. He averaged 16.6 points per game, but had averaged 23 points in the season's first 10 games before suffering the ankle sprain Dec. 23.

Also on the men's basketball beat, assistant Mitch Henderson took the Princeton head coaching job. Henderson had been at NU for 11 seasons and graduated from Princeton in 1998.

In football news, coach Pat Fitzgerald released his preseason depth chart with some notable moves on the offensive side.

There was no real surprise at tailback with Mike Trumpy tabbed atop the chart with Jacob Schmidt and Adonis Smith listed as an OR, seemingly solving the running game issues the Wildcats had at this time last year. But at quarterback, Dan Persa sits atop the chart with the backups listed as Kain Colter or Trevor Siemian or Evan Watkins. Persa has said he will be cleared to work out at full strength by late May or early June.

The first game time for the 2011 season was announced. The NU-Army game in West Point, N.Y. on Sept. 17 will start at 2:30 central time and will be televised on CBS Sports Network. It will be the first time since 1988 that the two teams have met.

And athletic director Jim Phillips pulled off another scheduling coup, landing Stanford for a four-game series starting Sept. 14, 2019 in Evanston. Two weeks ago Phillips inked a two-game series with Notre Dame starting in 2014.

The two schools haven't met since 1994 when they played to a 41-41 tie. 

Northwestern walk-on Tyris Jones breaks out

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Northwestern running back Tyris Jones was a walk-on, biding his time until this spring. It seemed like Jones is really getting a chance to play, as evidenced in the NU spring game at Ryan Field on Saturday. Jones rushed for 30 yards on six carries. Offensive coordinator Mick McCall liked what he saw.

"Tyris has been a really good addition to what we do in the backfield. He is a downhill runner and can block as a fullback and brings that toughness and an attitude which is nice," McCall said. "He's always been around, but he gets more opportunity. He was a walk-on linebacker and we moved him over to running back. He's going to have a role, let's put it that way."

Other tidbits gleaned from Saturday's spring game:

* Quarterback Kain Colter has played well despite his arm strength being at only 80 percent, the freshman said after Saturday's spring game. Colter had surgery on his right shoulder his senior year of high school after he tore his labrum and right bicep tendon. He said he promises his arm strength will be at 100 percent in time for training camp.

* Coach Pat Fitzgerald said that if the Wildcats played Boston College today (their season opener is at BC on Sept. 3), running back Mike Trumpy would start. That said, the Wildcats have a lot of other options in the backfield, too, so Trumpy would share reps with others like Adonis Smith and Tyris Jones.

Fitzgerald also said that running back Jacob Schmidt should be cleared to play on Sunday. Schmidt has been out with an ankle injury since the Michigan State game on Oct. 23.

Northwestern vs. Notre Dame in 2014

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The Big Announcement that Northwestern fans have been waiting 12 hours for finally came on ESPN2's "Mike & Mike in the Morning." NU had tweeted on Wednesday night that a "special announcement" was forthcoming, and that news is that NU and Notre Dame will renew their college football rivalry with a home-and-home series beginning in 2014.

So that second open date on the NU schedule no longer remains a mystery.

NU will play in South Bend, Ind. on Nov. 15, 2014. Notre Dame comes to Evanston in 2018.

The two first played each other in 1889.

Fitzgerald not ready to name a No. 1 quarterback

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Saturday morning Northwestern's football team practiced outside for the first time since spring practice started on March 7. The Wildcats held a scrimmage that actually wasn't without drama. Superback Brett Nagel suffered a serious injury to his left arm late in the scrimmage. He was taken off the field on a golf cart and an air cast was placed on the arm. Long snapper Pat Hickey is banged up, as is receiver Jeremy Ebert and superback Drake Dunsmore.

But aside from Nagel's injury, coach Pat Fitzgerald was happy with his team's overall performance and thought the defense started fast and the offense responded well.

Quarterbacks Evan Watkins, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian also played with a bit more confidence.

"I thought they were fine. They are a work in progress," Fitzgerald said. "I want to see more leadership out of them and I thought I saw it coming on, but its hard. We tried to make the reps even today. It's hard to get some momentum going. They are where we thought they'd be."

Fitzgerald downplayed rumors from the players as to whether or not he would name a No. 1 quarterback before spring football ends April 16 with the annual scrimmage at Ryan Field at noon.

"That's why they're called players and I'm called the coach," Fitzgerald said. "Maybe someone will separate themselves, but that has not happened yet."

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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