Cats kick off Kenosha

KENOSHA, Wis. -- Northwestern arrived at UW-Parkside in Kenosha, Wis., on Saturday evening, Aug. 15, following a two-a-day practice in Evanston. After an off day in Kenosha Sunday, the Wildcats opened practice Monday morning with the first of two sessions scheduled for the day. Here is your Official Practice Report:
THE WEATHER: A front brought heavy showers through the area overnight and lowered temperatures into the low 70's for Monday morning. The skies remained overcast with a few sprinkles here and there, making for a very comfortable opening practice.
THE PRACTICE: The Wildcats went 19 periods Monday morning on the wet natural grass fields at Parkside, marking NU's first practice on the surface after beginning the pre-season on Northwestern's FieldTurf practice field. Many Wildcats went with longer studs in their cleats and the emphasis was on footwork throughout the session.
Here are some highlights from the practice:
Junior linebacker Quentin Davie (St. Louis, Mo./Cardinal Ritter), who put in tremendous off-season work to increase his size and strength, was a monster during running back/superback blocking drills. On back-to-back plays, Davie punished a pair of NU's bigger superbacks to reach the quarterback.
Junior wide receiver Carl Fisher (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) made a nice leaping catch going across the middle during 7-on-7 drills and held onto the ball after being absolutely leveled by a big hit from safety Brian Peters (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central).
A few plays later, Peters stepped in front of a pass to make a pick and head untouched into the end zone.
The defensive line had a physical round with "Big Blue," a mat used in full-go tackling drills. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald turned his hat backwards and stuck his nose right in the middle of the drill, which featured plenty of hitting and energetic competition, complete with a mini-Samoan dance from Niko Mafuli (Florissant, Mo./Saint Louis University High) prior to his final rep.
JESKE FORCED TO RETIRE: NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald also announced that senior linebacker Chris Jeske (Yorkville, Ill./Joliet Catholic) has retired from playing college football. Jeske, who was tabbed the Illinois Player of the Year by the Chicago Sun-Times, has battled back and knee injuries throughout his career. "Chris had to do a very difficult thing and be honest with himself," said Fitzgerald. "Fortunately, he is going to continue to be a part of our program for the remainder of the year." Jeske will serve as a student coach for the defense this season.
QUOTABLE: While participating in a post-practice interview, sophomore defensive end Vince Browne (Lisbon, Ohio/David Anderson) told a reporter: "Our competition is at a very high level. Where there's no competition, people tend to get complacent, but we have great competition here and that is what helped us to improve so much last year."
NEXT UP: Northwestern hits the field later this afternoon for its second session of the day beginning at 4:45 p.m.